September 17 Letters to the Editor

Dear readers,

Last week we published a letter that alleged visitors to town had experienced poor practices during a traffic stop by Marfa police. After reviewing footage of the traffic stop, we’ve learned that the statements made in the letter misrepresented the incident.

After speaking with MPD, we asked them to further explain what happened and Police Chief Estevan Marquez has submitted a letter in this issue. We apologize for publishing something we did not first confirm as fact.

With that in mind, we are requesting letter writers to provide certain information with their submissions: 

  • Letters should be sent to, and must provide the writer’s full name, city of residence and an email or phone number, so that we may follow up and verify information as needed.
  • Your letters may be edited for clarity and brevity. While opinions of all kinds are welcome, when it comes to claims of fact, we strive to only publish what is verifiable. 
  • We have limited staff capacity to fact check unsubstantiated claims, so letters that include those may be held or remain unpublished if information is not easily verifiable.
  • We may reach out to ask questions and verify the identity of the sender. We do not run letters anonymously unless the sender is privately identified and has a reasonable claim to anonymity.

We reserve the right to hold or refrain from publishing a letter for any reason and we thank you for always sharing your letters with us.

Dear Editor,

Here is a special message for all local citizens:

Are you ready to express your views by voting in the 2020 election?

Please make sure you are registered.

Has your address changed?

Has your name changed?

You must have a current registration by October 5 in order to vote in the November 3 election.

I am a volunteer deputy registrar, and I will be at The Sentinel coffee shop picnic table this Friday, September 18 from 9 to 11 a.m.

I will be happy to help.

Pam Breithaupt

Fort Davis


Dear Editor,

As a former student of Sul Ross State University, I was dismayed that a very small group of student protesters, trying to capitalize on a larger movement elsewhere in the country and the world, had temporarily defaced the statute of the university’s namesake, “Sully” (Lawrence Sullivan Ross).

These student protesters are attempting to negate the life long achievements and service of L.S. Ross to the State of Texas solely because he served in the 6th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War.

From the Sul Ross University Alumni Association website, other websites, and historical biographies, the following facts about Ross’ service to the state includes:

Captain in the Texas Rangers

Sheriff of McClennan County

Helped establish the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, which still functions today

MASON (Masonic Lodge #1300 in College Station is named after L.S. Ross)

Member of the 1876 Texas Constitutional Convention

State senator 1881-1883

Two-term governor of Texas who championed public education and oversaw the construction of the new capitol building

Supported Prairie View A&M University. He halted numerous attempts to attack the funding for Prairie View and Texas A&M, insisting on full funding for education.

1891 became president of the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (Texas A&M). Prior to becoming president, Texas A&M was a troubled institution and was faced with closure. Under Ross’ leadership, Texas A&M flourished and gained respect as an institute of learning and he encouraged the enrollment of women.

L.S. Ross’ father, Shapley Prince Ross, is considered the founder of the City of Waco.

L.S. Ross’ life and career is one of the most researched and chronicled of Texans prior to 1900. Now, politically motivated and history revisionists are once again trying to attack this great citizen of Texas.

Of the recent protest, by the admission of one athlete student protester, he admitted he did not know who L.S. Ross was when he accepted an athletic scholarship, and nevertheless came to the university.

The statutes of Sullivan Lawrence Ross on the campuses of Sul Ross University and Texas A&M stand as the totality of this man’s life as a great citizen of Texas and as a champion of education.

The ignorance and the arrogance continues…

It would be well to remember that Sul Ross University was originally founded as a regional center of higher learning in West Texas for students to earn teaching certificates and junior college degrees. Early in its history, Sul Ross became the cultural and educational center for the mountainous, remote Big Bend region. It is advisable that Sul Ross University should consider refocusing its scholarship program for awarding to appreciative students and residents of West Texas.

In a 2019 quote by Texas Senator Brandon Creighton, “Our history is part of who we are and part of the story of Texas, but history is never just one person’s account. We’ve seen a trend across the nation and the world where controversial monuments are removed and destroyed … I fear that we’ll look back and regret that this was a period where deleting history was more important than learning from it.”

Kelly Crunk



Dear Editor,

People who want to see the local economy improve might consider that encouraging more consistent mask use could help that.

We believe that masks currently help us all be safer, so when we go into a business where masks aren’t worn by all, or are worn below the nose by customers, staff or clerks, we are likely to turn around and leave.

There are other would-be shoppers that say the same thing.

Pam Gaddis and Betty Gaddis Yndo



Dear Editor,

On October 22, 1962, I watched President Kennedy inform the nation that the Soviet Union had placed a number of nuclear missiles in Cuba, 90 miles from the U.S. that could have resulted in the annihilation of many of the major cities in the country. Did America panic? I didn’t and I knew no one who did. Why not? I suppose because I and most of America had confidence in the competent leadership of President Kennedy.

On the other hand, if Donald Trump had been president, he would have told no one because we might panic and then done nothing to remove the missiles. Why not? Well, maybe he wanted to build something in Moscow, or maybe he was afraid Khrushchev would get mad and bang his shoe on his desk at the United Nations. Or maybe the Russians had something embarrassing on the Trump family. Or maybe he just wouldn’t have had the courage it takes to actually be a leader.

So much for Trump’s utterly stupid claim that he lied to America about the coronavirus because he didn’t want to cause a panic.

The real issue now, though, is why he is still not telling the truth while 200,000 people die. If he just told people to wear a mask, it would save lives. But it seems he has this morbid desire to test his supporters’ loyalty. Or is it their gullibility? So, I’ll go ahead and say what a lot of people are thinking: if Trump’s supporters don’t believe they can get sick and possibly die, well, that’s their problem. Our problem with that attitude is that scores, if not thousands, of the rest of us can become infected because a few people believe Donald Trump. And that is a travesty.

Finally, as a “loser” and “sucker,” i.e. a four-year Vietnam-era veteran, I am absolutely appalled when I see a Veterans For Trump sign. How can he possibly deserve any support from veterans when he has no respect for us or what we did?

Fred Gossien



Dear Editor,

I am a proud Sul Ross Alumni. I wear my -SR- with pride. And I am aware of the association of Sul Ross, in name, to Lawrence Sullivan Ross. However, I do not look upon my school as an exclusive or divisive college. In fact, I see Sul Ross as the exact opposite of that. The campus has always been a mix of students and faculty, a place where all walks of life have received an equal education, a place that has brought people together from different backgrounds.

To the students calling to change the name, I ask them to pause and think about the opportunity before them. Our school is not Lawrence Sullivan Ross State University, and while the original intent may have been to honor this man, our school, Sul Ross State University has become its own identity, apart from the man.

This is the opportunity before us. To keep this name, Sul Ross, as our own, to claim it as our own, associate with the positive opportunities and experiences that have been provided to its very diverse students, and to ensure that future generations can hear the name Sul Ross, and not think of a man, but instead think of a college that has opened its doors to students of every ethnic, economic, political and social background.

Erasing or changing the name does not undo the history of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. But this is OUR school, our name, and his history is not ours. Sul Ross, and the -SR- belong to us. We can educate generations about this man, explain his contributions AND his faults, and then explain how our school rose above these faults to become known as a place of inclusion and diversity, a place where all are welcomed. Instead of trying to forget, or erase history, we have an opportunity to not only educate about the history, but also own, grow and create history. We can take the name Sul Ross and make it our beacon of diversity, our legacy.

Joanna Hill

El Paso


Dear Editor,

In response to the letter to the editor from Randy Jackson printed in the 09/10/2020 edition of The Big Bend Sentinel regarding the conduct of Marfa police officers during a traffic stop that occurred on Saturday, September 5, 2020, as chief of police, I, Estevan Marquez, received a forwarded email from the City of Mafa mayor containing the same letter printed in this week’s paper. The letter had been sent to the mayor and other local officials by Mr. Jackson on Tuesday, September 9, 2020. Upon receiving the email, I immediately contacted the officers and reviewed the body cameras associated with the traffic stop.

After review of the camera footage, I found that Mr. Jackson’s recount of the traffic stop was inaccurate. The referenced vehicle was not a car but in fact a red Dodge pickup truck. The officers initiated the traffic stop due to the vehicle traveling at 58-mph in a 40-mph zone. The recorded speed was 18-mph above the posted speed limit, rather than the “5-mph or so” which Mr. Jackson stated in the letter.

Mr. Jackson stated in his letter that the officers had opened and searched the trunk of the car, which was not accurate due to the vehicle being a pickup truck, which does not have a trunk. The bed of the truck was not searched, nor underneath the vehicle. Officer Carillo did check for the presence of both front and back license plates as is standard procedure.

The letter then states all occupants of the vehicle were required to stand outside of the vehicle and present identification. After careful review of the body cam footage, I was able to observe that at no time were the occupants of the vehicle asked to step out or taken outside of the vehicle. The officers did request the identification of the driver and another passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt.

The backseat passenger was issued a warning for no seatbelt. The driver was issued a citation for the excessive speed. Officers clearly explained the reason for the stop and citation. When questioned by the chief, both officers stated that at the time of the stop, due to the speed, dark window tint, and the fact that the traffic stop occurred at nighttime, both officers did not have prior knowledge of the race, ethnicity or gender of the driver or occupants.

No complaints of officer misconduct from the driver or occupants have been filed with the Marfa Police Department. This letter, as well as the video footage of the traffic stop, have been provided to The Big Bend Sentinel. The Marfa Police Department will take any complaints of officer misconduct very seriously, investigations will be conducted, and officers involved will be held accountable. Thank you.

Estevan Marquez

Marfa Police Chief


Dear Editor,

There is some backlash against the Black Lives Matter protests because there has been vandalism and looting occurring, but the vast majority have been completely peaceful. What many of us forget is that for a significant part of U.S. history, Black Lives did not matter. In our country today there are still obstacles for some Black people to get ahead compared to their white counterparts.

I applaud the Black Lives Matter protests while opposing the criminal activity that sometimes accompanies the protests. In many cases it is unclear who is doing that, and in more and more cases, the organizers of the protests are trying to stop the vandalism. Here in Alpine we had a very peaceful walk from the Civic Center down Holland Avenue and over to the Courthouse Park.

Roger J. Siglin



Dear Editor,


When the knock on the door isn’t Amazon delivering, we’re beyond the point of no return! Better not cross the line of whatever Great Leader and uncouth minions consider is “right.”

Why would we be any less susceptible when the president supports an extra-judicial killing by the U.S. Marshals of an Antifa supporter who killed a pro-Trump, right-wing counterprotester in Portland? Others among his supporters rationalize ruthlessness to advance their sense of “justice.” In Jim Crow South, Blacks were lynched with the same zeal.

What was the Inaugural oath? Evil’s harbinger is that Trump doesn’t care about Constitutional rule of law, due process or innocent-until-proven-guilty.

What do the rest of us believe? What is your core value as citizens of a Constitutional republic? We had a Revolution to establish sound principles as a step forward in the relationship between the governed and government.

It is well-past time to get our commitment to our values checked and updated. Sadly, the average American’s lack of knowledge and/or commitment to the basics make Trump’s authoritarianism possible.

Next comes the disappearances and rumors of torture. Roaming freely are the paramilitary Death Squads. Bodies in ditches are “fair notice.” That comes about when loving America that hard makes the Constitution disappear too!

Rev. Barry Abraham Zavah