Our experience with school resource officers, especially in the Minneapolis schools, has been outstanding (“Cops play a key role keeping schools safe,” editorial, June 13).
What we have seen is these police officers in the schools do get to know the students. Their presence deters crime. More important, these officers do a superb job in steering students who do cause a problem into diversion programs offered by my office or the Minneapolis Police Department. The result: Fewer students sent to the juvenile court system.
The number of Minneapolis public school students referred to this office has dropped dramatically since 2006-07. In that year, 919 school crimes were referred to the Hennepin County attorney’s office, 409 of them for disorderly conduct. In the just-completed school year, those numbers were 148 crimes referred and 17 for disorderly conduct.
Two things changed in that time that caused those numbers to plummet. First, my office worked with the schools to address minor misbehavior within the schools instead of relying on prosecution in court and, second, the Minneapolis Police Department took over the school resource officers’ contract, with a focus on establishing positive relationships with students.
The resource officers are de-escalating incidents in the schools, and we are all working on diverting problem children into other programs, rather than the harsher juvenile court system.
Mike Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney
Getting at the deeper causes of hatred that manifests violently
Once again, American violence targeting lesbians and gays documents its ugly presence in media all around the world. Fortunately, the Star Tribune’s coverage seems fair and balanced, with a touching and personal photograph on the very first page, and thoughtful commentary on following pages. Yet once again, Donald Trump, Fox News and others feel empowered to lay blame on the entire Muslim faith. There are millions of peace-loving Muslims in the world. Fortunately, their voices and cries of outrage are increasingly being heard.
The cause of the crazed carnage in Orlando is not faith-based. It’s caused by angry, violent people who use religion to sprinkle holy water on their twisted prejudices and by their need for power, and by gun-worshiping societies that delude themselves into the belief that more bullets can solve more of our problems. I prefer to think of “faith” as the ground of one’s character, and not our subscription to any single religious dogma or language.
Few faith traditions have histories free of horrific violence. St. Olaf used the sword to behead and disembowel pagans, and is even reported to have stuffed snakes down the throats of pagan unbelievers. St. Thomas More was notoriously eager to barbecue Protestants. The list goes on. Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others, including nonbelievers, need to seek forgiveness for the past, and to search for that brotherhood and sisterhood that humbly and mercifully unites us all.
Curt Oliver, Brooklyn Park
• • •
In response to the tragic deaths in Orlando, Trump has reiterated his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” My husband and I recently traveled to Turkey, a country that is 98 percent Muslim. The people we spoke with there, without exception, had contempt for Donald Trump. Turkey over the years has been an important ally for the U.S. in the Middle East. We have key military bases there. Trump’s ignorant rhetoric has antagonized and insulted many in the Muslim world who have been, and should be, our allies.
A friend from Turkey who is Muslim recently came to visit us in Minnesota. Besides his spending a lot of money here, the U.S. has been a beacon of freedom for him and others like him. He is gay, but totally closeted at home. Here he can live openly and freely. Trump would shut the door to him and our other friends and allies in the Muslim world.
Trump’s knowledge of foreign-policy issues is virtually nonexistent. His proposals are simplistic. His reckless ideas would cause us to lose respect with both Muslims and non-Muslims alike and would not make the U.S. a safer place, but more isolated and more at risk.
Rick Groger, Minneapolis
• • •
Testimonies are emerging that Omar Mateen repeatedly patronized the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and utilized dating apps like Grindr. It’s early to draw conclusions regarding the reason for these habits, but the simplest explanation is not the least likely: that Omar Mateen was a gay man.
If this is the case:
We’re looking at an exhibition of not only rage and hatred but of internalized oppression and homophobia. Discussions of this tragedy have focused on what Mateen may have learned from global organizations, but American culture itself teaches its children to loath and fear themselves. We’ve seen the repercussions countless times.
Our society builds us rigid boxes into which we must cram our unwieldy identities. Terrified to accept themselves and unable to reject their box, many react violently. This usually manifests as suicide, but Mateen’s fear became rage against the community he was mortified to join.
If we’re to blame radical, hateful establishments like ISIL, we must extend that blame to radical, hateful establishments like Moral Majority; like evangelical churches preaching intolerance; like state legislatures making radical, hateful laws, and like school bullies who stuff queer kids into lockers and teachers who look away.
Mateen’s victims had painstakingly achieved what he couldn’t: self-acceptance and love within a supportive community. For his own weaknesses and self-loathing, he punished those who’d already suffered under institutions of education, health care and government. For the travesty at Pulse, I blame the monster of Omar Mateen, and I blame our culture of hatred and repression that transfigures individuals into monsters.
Bess Boever, Minneapolis
A different suburban perspective on transit: We are not islands
In response to “Enough Minneapolis-centric goals” (Readers Write, June 11), I would like to state a suburban viewpoint. Light rail has been proposed around, but not in, the city of Edina. As a member of the Edina City Council, I support this plan for a number of reasons. Economically, the suburbs of Minneapolis benefit from a vibrant and/or healthy inner city. Edina has many residents who work downtown. Yes, the light-rail system hub is in Minneapolis. Our family rides light rail to Twins and Gophers games. The proposed Southwest line travels through multiple suburbs and would offer those residents a car-free ride. Edina is bisected by two highways — Hwy. 100 and Crosstown Hwy. 62. Between construction on 100 and traffic on 62, it is difficult to even travel in our city. I will wish the Southwest line was done when Hwy. 169 closes completely north of 62 for a year. All of those cars will need to find other routes.
As a state, we are late to mass transit planning. We need the hub and spokes before we can think about lateral lines. As to who should pay, let me give you a few examples. I walk Lake Harriet several times a week. My taxes do not pay Minneapolis park costs. Residents from all over town shop the Minneapolis side of France Avenue at 50th Street, but park in Edina ramps. As a city, we pay into local government aid, but get back none. It goes to communities with higher needs.
All of these things that happen across community lines are part of the fabric of our very successful state. Now is not the time to put up financial cost walls. The Southwest line will benefit Eden Prairie, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and all of us. Minneapolis is not parochial; the rest of us are if we do not see a greater good in all transit decisions.
Ann Swenson, Edina