Wayne Nealis’ March 9 commentary (“Mall of America goes to court”) was wonderfully written. It is too bad that he apparently has no experience with nonviolent direct-action protest. His call for amnesty for the Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mall of America in December ignores the purpose of this method of protest — that is, demanding a response, from those in power, to a situation that can no longer be ignored. If the protesters truly believe that injustices have been done, they should want to be punished and preferably sent to jail to bring attention to their cause. Perhaps even incur mistreatment by the police.
What Nealis is suggesting is the easy way out. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers wanted to be arrested to bring attention to the cause. I was amused to read Nealis’ praise for the “courage and determination of the organizers in the face of threats and intimidation.” I didn’t see any police dogs, fire hoses or riots sticks that were standard in Birmingham and Selma.
I believe that you can protest anywhere you want. Just be prepared for and accept the consequences of your actions.
Jimmy McCormack, St. Paul
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Urging the Bloomington city attorney to withdraw charges she filed after the Mall of America demonstration, a group of clergy cited the cause protesters had advocated of equal justice for people of all incomes or ethnicities, but the city attorney told them to appeal to the Legislature.
So let’s see a law to assure that developments built with the support of public funding, such as the Mall of America, be declared inherently public spaces — not exclusively private ones as the MOA, its tenants and city attorney all claim.
Louis Stanley Schoen, St. Louis Park
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I have never been a great fan of the Mall of America; I get a headache after about 20 minutes there. However, I am a parent, and my 11-year-old son loves the Lego store and the Nickelodeon Universe. So, it has been my practice to take a deep breath and a couple of Tylenols, and take him to the MOA on a regular basis.
I am proud to report that my son has a strong sense of social justice and a firm moral center. And, bless him, he knows that the lives of young black men are more important than the Lego store. Given the news that the owners of the MOA, in collusion with the Bloomington city attorney, have relentlessly pursued the organizers of the Dec. 20 peaceful demonstration, he is at peace with the fact that we will no longer be shopping or playing at the MOA.
I hope the mall’s owners step back from this tone-deaf public-relations disaster and apologize to the organizers of the demonstration, as well as to the community at large. I hope they can find the moral center of my 11-year-old.
M.J. Gilbert, Minneapolis
Know its challenges, successes, and stop grandstanding
A March 10 letter writer, a non-Minneapolis resident in favor of state Senate Minority Leader David Hann’s suggestion to break the Minneapolis School District into six chunks, says that if she were a parent in the district or even a taxpayer in the city, she’d be furious about the sub-50-percent graduation rate. I am a parent and a taxpayer in this fine city, and I love living here! We have wonderful parks and natural amenities, good schools and a rich cultural life. I find it frustrating how uninformed she is about our graduation rates.
Our graduation rates are on the rise. The district as a whole went from 54 percent to 59 percent this year. Washburn High, where my kids go, went from 64 percent to 79 percent. I volunteer there and see rock-star teachers all over the place. Some of the kids I work with have incredible challenges, such as poverty, disrupted family lives or more, and may not graduate. One student’s troubles are so overwhelming that he isn’t coming to school. If he came to school, he’d get help. How could you blame the district for a student’s failure to graduate when he is not in school?
This shooting from the hip about a city the backers of Hann’s bill don’t represent and know very little about has got to end. As the writer aptly said: The outcome ultimately affects the whole community. We have to stop this divisive political grandstanding and work together to make better lives for all of the children in this state.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
Safety should come first in our sensitive setting
A March 10 letter suggests that the co-location of freight and light rail in the Kenilworth corridor is safe. Andrew Selden, the letter writer, is president of the Minnesota Association of Rail Passengers, which certainly explains his rather cavalier attitude toward safety in my neighborhood.
Before co-location, our small Twin Cities & Western Railroad operated exclusively in the corridor. Since co-location, massive engines belonging to BNSF and the Canadian Pacific pull exceptionally long trains through the corridor day and night. Some of the trains are so long they need “pusher” engines on the back. On March 3, the 11:10 a.m. Canadian Pacific pulled 70 tank cars as it rumbled across our old wooden bridge.
Can Selden assure this neighborhood that a tank car going off the bridge at 10 miles per hour, landing on the embankment below, wouldn’t explode? Such a catastrophe would certainly destroy my home and my neighborhood. And what about the light-rail trains passing every few minutes? Surely, there’s a great chance they’d be caught in any conflagration. The idea of co-location, as well as transporting hazardous material through the corridor, must be revisited.
Jerry Van Amerongen, Minneapolis
IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS
The cost of overstepping a role
So 47 senators just told Iran not to trust us in negotiations (“GOP tries to undercut Iran deal,” March 9), thereby assisting the hard-liners in Iran, who also do not want to see a peaceful settlement. Have we gone through the looking glass? And what happens when we want to initiate a trade agreement involving some of the same allies who are working with us on the Iran negotiations? They’re going to get dizzy trying to figure out whether to trust us.
Cathy Murphy, St. Louis Park