I want to thank Star Tribune reporters Brandon Stahl, Jennifer Bjorhus and MaryJo Webster and photographer Renée Jones Schneider for their world-changing investigative report “When rape is reported and nothing happens” (part of the special report “Denied Justice,” July 22 and July 26). And I want to thank the incredibly courageous women who agreed to share their stories, names and photos with the public to highlight the disastrous lack of police and legal response to the sexual-assault crimes they suffered. And I want to thank the political representatives for responding (though a little “Johnny-come-lately”) to the situation by beginning the process of improving police training and protocols for investigating rape and sexual assault. This is one more example of the role and value of a free press that investigates an issue, brings national expertise to review hundreds of case files, listens carefully to the survivors and reports on the shameful conditions that exist for a segment of our community. Our democracy cannot survive without a free and responsible press that challenges the status quo. Can we all agree to ban “fake news” from our vocabulary?
Catherine Jordan, Minneapolis
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The article “When rape is reported and nothing happens” was sickening. Literally.
If it’s true that it’s a lack of resources preventing investigations from being pursued, shame on the cities for not adequately funding them. On the other hand, it’s up to those police agencies to properly prioritize the resources they have. Other than homicide, there aren’t too many other crimes against people that so deserve investigators’ attention and follow-through.
Given a number of the examples, however, it seems more likely that some of these agencies continue to operate according to past precepts. Why didn’t she fight? What was she wearing? Why did she go to his room? Was she drinking? If the answers didn’t fit with the investigators’ picture of the perfect victim, she probably didn’t merit a thorough look into the circumstances of the reported crime.
In 2018, women are still ignored, disbelieved and treated as if they’re unimportant when reporting one of the most violent and humiliating events in their lives. The times, they’re not a-changin’. At least not for many rape victims. The situation is inexcusable.
Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis
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As I read the article about the courageous women who shared their stories, my heart ached and went out to them. I can empathize with them. Starting at the age of 10, I was assaulted and raped by someone in a position of authority for five long years. To this day there are those who refuse to believe that it ever happened. Again, I empathize with you, and want you to know that you are in my prayers. Your courage to share your stories speaks volumes about who you are and have become. Don’t lose hope. May God walk with you as you continue your journey of healing. The perpetrators who did this give men and all humanity a bad name.
James Hlavka, Blaine
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The victims were pictured and named and the incidents were described in this report. In addition to nothing happening for the victims, the July 22 article included no names of the detectives in the cases it examined. Very hard to arouse public indignation without names of the detectives who did nothing.
Mary Tambornino, Eden Prairie
The writer is a former member of the Hennepin County Board.
‘DENSITY IS DESTINY’
Advocates just aren’t getting the point of the resistance
I want to take issue with the comments of John Adams, a geographer at the University of Minnesota who was quoted in Steve Berg’s July 22 commentary “Density is Destiny.” Speaking about the public pushback on the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan, Prof. Adams said: “This really isn’t about density. It’s about a perceived threat to the social status that the middle-class home and its context represents.”
He got the “social status that the middle-class home … represents” part right, but what I am hearing from my neighbors in the Lynnhurst neighborhood is their disappointment with a plan that does not provide opportunity for people who are marginalized or struggling to achieve that part of the American dream. We know that homeownership is a fundamental step to building a family’s wealth, making so many other parts of the dream possible. Rather than have developers make all the choices that citizens will have to live with, why not also financially support residents who want to buy and rehab underperforming or abandoned properties, contributing their sweat equity and commitment to the city? We could have a program that combines job education and neighborhood stabilization, but it will take money. The leaf patterns on the new Nicollet Mall sidewalks are pretty, but I’d rather see boarded-up and rundown houses repaired and occupied by proud homeowners.
Kate Johnson, Minneapolis
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Overall, I’m a fan of urban density. It fits my personal aesthetic as well as my desire to protect the environment. However, Berg’s commentary backfired. Like some decisionmakers are perceived as being, Berg is disrespectful of anyone who questions the rash plan that Minneapolis has proposed for increasing density. According to Berg, people who question the plan are deniers, old and pathetic. Mostly old. They deserve to be ignored if they can’t ride bikes everywhere. Having made “a big investment in their home” does not merit consideration. I would have found factual information helpful. Derision and arrogance not so much.
Celeste Riley, Mendota Heights
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Berg’s article was an excellent analysis of how and why Minneapolis needs to grow through smart density. As a returning Minneapolis native, I learned a lot. However, I take issue with one particular point: He says that we shouldn’t “anger middle-class taxpayers” by trying to “inject social justice into the zoning code” and instead should invest in job training, education and social skills to address poverty rather than housing affordability. As a former teacher, credit counselor and public-policy graduate student, I have seen how a myopic investment in one issue — whether it’s education or economic empowerment — will be frustrated by other systemic barriers. Your ZIP code influences your employment options, health status, educational opportunity and the tactics the police use in your neighborhood. Housing is one of the many factors preserving social inequity. If the city is serious about addressing some of the worst racial gaps in the nation, then every decision our community makes needs to be “injected with social justice,” starting (but not ending) with zoning.
Marina Balleria, Minneapolis
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One source of anxiety about increased density that Berg did not mention is quality of construction. Here in St. Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood, we have many fourplexes — handsome, solid buildings just as sound and attractive as they were when built most of a century ago. They fit the neighborhood nicely.
But look at the fourplexes built, say, in the last 40 years. Most are ugly and already shabby by comparison. The same is true for many townhouses. Resisting the imposition of ugly, cheap-looking buildings is not the same as looking backward or resisting all change.
Paul Nelson, St. Paul