I have read some of the responses to the freeway protests (Readers Write, July 14). I realize many motorists were inconvenienced by the disruption. However, I don’t think it is comparable to the anger and frustration of our sisters and brothers who are harassed for “driving while black.” They, too, may be late for appointments, work or worse.
Avis Allmaras, St. Paul
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Protest in America is more important than voting. Voters elect politicians to make and change laws. Some are effective; at this time, most aren’t, due to partisan bickering. We as citizens are told that we vote for many reasons — patriotism, desire to change an unfair system. The amount of money spent on getting the vote is staggering in itself. My point: Spend all that money, go stand in the rain on a cold November morning early — for all that do we get a full measure of results?
This country was built from protests, and most weren’t peaceful. Protest became war against England. The Whiskey Rebellion was protest over taxes; many died. The Civil War encompassed states’ rights and slavery. The civil rights movement and the Vietnam War protests weren’t all peaceful. I saw families tear-gassed on the National Mall in Washington on July 4, 1970 — it’s certainly not peaceful when little children are trying to find their parents crying in the gas. Along with Walter Cronkite, the people were sick and tired of the killing in Vietnam. Not to mention the workers’ struggle for fair working conditions and better pay as a long bitter protest that is far from over.
Innocent people are being killed by our police. Nothing new here, but people are fed up burying innocent victims of racism and poor training. If some folks are late for work, so be it.
Jim Goudy, Austin, Minn.
Two commentaries on candor had their own issues with it
I was reading through the July 14 commentary “We can’t avoid talking about bad behavior,” and all of it read like a personal justification for profiling based upon appearance. Oddly, to help make his point about “black gangsterism,” the author spent an entire paragraph referencing Bill Cosby. He also dismissed and completely downgraded the many sexual assaults Cosby has been charged in connection with and accused of, referring to them in incredibly sanitized language as “his fall from grace” or “had issues of his own,” but never as “rape.”
Here’s a reality check for you — Philando Castile had dreadlocks and sometimes dressed in a way that would have made Cosby want to say something. However, Castile was adored by the school system he worked for, by the kids he worked for, by everyone he met. He never hurt anyone. But Cosby, wearing sweaters and fitting pants? Perhaps profiling by appearance doesn’t work after all. Perhaps the author should read his own words.
Patrick DeBonville, Minneapolis
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Attempting to make a point, Rep Keith Ellison has turned back the clock to 1935 to commend Gov. Mark Dayton for saying the shooting of Philando Castile was a racist act by a suburban Twin Cities police officer who would not have shot him if he were white (“Thank goodness for the governor’s candor,” July 14). To support his premise that Minneapolis has always been racist, Ellison points to a city map of 1935 as evidence that the city was “planned and zoned to be segregated — with north Minneapolis labeled a ‘Negro Slum.’ ” First of all, assuming the map is valid, and there is some question about that, it is not a planning and zoning map; it is an “election map” showing where voters reside. Second, the area is not designated “Negro Slum”; it is designated as “Negro Section (largest in the city).” The area marked “Slum” is actually to the north of that section, and it was heavily Jewish. Both of my grandparents lived in that section.
As for commending Dayton for suggesting that the police are racist, I suggest that the congressman use his position as a representative of all of the people in his district to lessen the racial tension now prevailing rather than inflame it with these comments by the governor, who has been criticized for making them by commentators around the country. Although Dayton is not trained in the law, certainly he knows it is wrong to condemn the officer involved in the shooting before all of the facts surrounding the shooting are known.
Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park
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Whatever happened to the sorrow and compassion the general public once felt for a police officer who, in the line of duty, had to shoot someone?
Cheryl Messing, Forest Lake
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A young man is dead, a mother has lost her son and a cop’s life is changed forever by an event everyone would change if they could. Imagine if the police officer who shot Philando Castile — Jeronimo Yanez — and Castile’s mother could sit in the same room, just to hear each other and hopefully come to an understanding of each other’s situation. Imagine an opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation, something that certainly will not happen in the court system. This situation would, no doubt, be difficult, awkward, angry and tear-filled, but it also could lead beyond the us/them conundrum we find ourselves in. What I am describing is known as restorative justice, though in this case it might be more accurate to call it participatory justice, where those closest to the unfortunate event meet face to face outside of a courtroom with no lawyers.
The traditional justice system will play itself out, and my pessimistic side says the missing minutes before Diamond Reynolds started recording will not show anything definitive. Nothing anyone says will change the situation for Philando Castile; however, we can try to change things for those close to the situation. When we are ready to move beyond fear, anger and hatred, I hope we can consider creating situations where both sides can hear each other: cops who are asked to do dangerous things, and people who are vulnerable because of the color of their skin.
Dennis L. Dietzel, Roseville
Seems it’s an offer you can’t refuse even if you try
I had a tooth pulled the other day. The dentist gave me a prescription for 30 opioid painkillers. I said I’d rather just have four. He convinced me that I might need 20. I actually took only one, and I think a couple of Advils would have sufficed.
Fighting opioid addiction with education, prevention and treating incarcerated addicts is all fine — and expensive. But how about starting at the source? The medical community has to own up to its role in this epidemic of addiction.
Mary Alice Divine, White Bear Lake
THE 2016 CAMPAIGN
It’s not (ahem) as if you’re choosing your best friend
I would love to go 24 hours without hearing or saying the word “like.” Many folks today seem unable to navigate a simple English sentence without throwing in at least one “like,” as in “I’m, like, really tired today.” C’mon folks, either you’re tired or you’re not. Which is it?
The word also comes up frequently when the topic turns to politics: “I just don’t like Hillary, or Donald.” That reaction is often based on a gut-level reaction to appearance or style rather than to substance, as in “I don’t like Hillary — she has a weird laugh.” The task of choosing the next president should not be a popularity contest. We’re electing the leader of the free world, not Miss Congeniality. Let’s not make it a contest of whom we’d rather have a beer and a hot dog with on a summer afternoon.
By most accounts, Lyndon Johnson could be boorish, pushy and crass, maybe not what we’d desire in a neighbor or a friend. Yet he gave this country the Civil Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Public Broadcasting Act and much more. Probably all political candidates are flawed. Neither Clinton nor Trump was born in a manger. But let’s evaluate candidates based on their track record, their platform and their potential to deliver on their promises. That might give us a president we could really learn to like … oops, that darn word again!
Curt Oliver, Brooklyn Park