Merriam-Webster defines terrorism to be “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” The people who shot five protesters on Monday night in Minneapolis did so to threaten those protesting at the Fourth Precinct, to make them fearful of continuing the protest. Call the attackers what they really are — terrorists — rather than understating their actions by referring to them as “counter-demonstrators,” as was done in some news coverage.

Jackson Melius, St. Paul

• • •

I was not in Minneapolis last week. I was in Syracuse, N.Y., looking into law schools. As I was returning, I saw a notification on my phone that there had been a shooting and that Black Lives Matter was now involved. Those in the local BLM movement had been waiting for an event like this. They knew that it was a matter of time. It came sooner rather than later. The community is now watching and knows that this is a real movement.

I grew up in Minneapolis. I am a graduate of North High School. I am aware, as a mixed woman, what both sides are saying. My white colleagues and friends whisper their thoughts to me as if I am a safe person to express the frustration that they feel with BLM. I don’t need to tell you what is being said, as I am sure many readers are thinking and saying the same things. What I want to ask is: “Who would make a better victim?”

One major point of the movement is to address aggressive policing. The police would not have been at the scene of the Jamar Clark shooting on Nov. 15 had there not been a disturbance. While I do not condone what the perpetrator was said to have done, those actions are not the point. One action does not deserve another. When the police are called, under the assumption to stop an already violent or tense situation, it should not be met with the possibility of more violence or death.

Reading news boards and hearing reactions to the protest have been disappointing, but the reactions highlight the misunderstandings or the willingness to remain ignorant to the larger issues at play. I have heard things such as that blacks are uneducated, poor and violent. We are none of those things, and we are not deaf to the things that are being said and implied. Those negative thoughts lead to negative actions that result in bias in the workplace, housing and, yes, policing.

I could give the facts; however, facts don’t matter. We should not have to prove that we are worthy of better jobs, to have safe communities, to have equal educational opportunities and to not live in fear of the police.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Just do what you’re told, and there will be no problem.” Too often these interactions start with aggression. Policing needs to begin with humanity. We need to see that our communities exist because of one another. You want the North Side community contained and under guard so it does not affect you. What can this community really do that would be agreeable? Wait? Play by what rules of acceptability and respectability? Or just go away?

Gina Iliev, St. Paul

 

JAMAR CLARK SHOOTING

Video should be released. That it hasn’t is shameful all around.

It’s been a week since the shooting of Jamar Clark, and the city is still impassioned by supporters of the Minneapolis Police Department and by those who believe witnesses who claim that Clark was shot “execution-style” in the head. There is video that is being examined from multiple sources by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, in a typical investigation of a shooting of this nature, but in the meantime there is a substantial rift occurring in police-community relations.

Frankly, city and law enforcement management have been severely mishandling the situation. The video will reveal whether the shooting was justified or if it was an abuse of police power and, therefore, a murder. Whether the judgment is revealed when it should have been five days ago, or in another week or longer, the findings will be the same. But each day of the delay creates distrust of law enforcement and justified dissension.

It is not the mayor’s call, but shame on her for not exercising management authority and skills to expedite the findings. Shame on Gov. Mark Dayton for not using his influence to get the videos made available to the public. Shame on the BCA for the callous disregard of community relations by its foot-dragging in the matter. Shame on those in the community who react in violent ways of protest. Shame on Clark for his undisputed assault and for interfering with paramedics doing their jobs. And finally, shame on the Police Department, which does not require personal body cameras to be a required part of the uniform so that issues like this never have to occur.

Police officers should deserve the public’s respect, but the way this situation has been handled, is it any wonder why that respect can be challenged?

David Berger, Minneapolis

• • •

Gov. Dayton is at it again (“Dayton: Clark video inconclusive,” Nov. 24). When everyone in authority says to wait for the conclusions of the video, he tells all. What part of “wait” does he not understand?

Ellen Jacobson, Savage

• • •

The NAACP is a valuable organization and deserves all the respect it gets. At the same time, I question the logic of statements made by its Minneapolis president, Nekima Levy-Pounds. In response to the governor’s observation that the ambulance tape shows nothing that would confirm any point of view about the Clark killing, she wrote on Facebook that his observation “reinforces the public’s need to see the videotape for themselves and to draw their own conclusions.” She explained that he is “not a trained expert in this field.” Logic says that if his inexpert opinion is not valuable, neither would be inexpert opinions from the public.

Levy-Pounds added that the governor’s observation “calls into question the veracity of statements from witnesses.” No, it doesn’t. Dayton has basically stated that the video itself is neutral. He made no comment at all about witnesses. And I can’t agree with her assumption that his statement might deter other witnesses from coming forward. On the contrary, it might encourage new witnesses to step up, because now they can be confident that at least this video would not make their testimony superfluous.

Jim Bartos, Brooklyn Park

 

ASSISTED SUICIDE

Opponent would place another burden on those who suffer

While Aaron Kheriaty used a study to make the claim that assisted-suicide laws increased nonassisted-suicide rates in Washington and Oregon between 1990 and 2013 (“Assisted or not, suicide can be contagious,” Nov. 24), it should be noted that a significant proportion of those nonassisted suicides involved chronic or terminal illness, especially in those older than 65. And while the authors of the study claim to have controlled for demographic and socioeconomic factors, can any study take into account the individual people who lost their homes, their jobs and their life savings during those years?

I agree with the writer that we need to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to become. Do we want to be a society that respects terminally ill patients’ right to choose to end their prolonged and excruciating pain in a dignified manner? And one that works to prevent poverty, unemployment, homelessness, psychosis and depression, thus lowering the suicide rate among those who see no hope?

Terminally ill patients do not make a decision to have a dignified death based on whether it might influence the choice of some unknown person somewhere, nor should they be asked to. Instead, they should have their privacy and autonomy respected, and their last days relieved of the fear of a slow and painful death.

Mary Alice Divine, White Bear Lake