I’ve been listening and so far, this is one thing I’ve learned. There is no such thing as neutral when it comes to racism. I was raised a privileged white woman in an overwhelmingly white suburb of Minneapolis. I prided myself on “not seeing color,” yet I did not understand justice. I later learned about cultural competence. This was harder, and the humility taught me how to be an advocate. But I didn’t really do anything except feel a little smug. Last week, I learned about being anti-racist, which is to take action against racism. This comment from the executive director of Visit Greater St. Cloud about a Sauk Rapids, Minn., bar owner’s display of the Confederate flag: “I wouldn’t assume it’s intentional to hurt anybody. Our position is, we remain neutral,” is a perfect example of racism cloaked in ignorance (“Bar off, back on tourism website,” June 10). It is time to listen and learn how to be allies against systemic racism.
Barb Mager, West St. Paul
Crisis intervention training brings safety, empathy to the scene
Mindy Greiling’s June 8 commentary is heartbreaking (“Separating policing, mental health response isn’t easy”). Her disturbing description of a dangerous interaction with the police involving her and her mentally ill son is all too familiar. It raises a question — why wasn’t a crisis intervention team (CIT) officer at the scene?
The CIT concept has been around for more than 30 years, but like many progressive police initiatives, it’s taken root more in some jurisdictions than others. This is a pity, because the purpose of CIT is to provide a safer (including for the police), more effective way to deal with the mentally ill in crisis. What’s often missed in speaking about CIT is that the training also results in officers who are more able and willing to show empathy in all types of public interactions.
It’s the antithesis of what so tragically happened to George Floyd. He encountered officers either totally lacking in empathy (former officer Derek Chauvin) or with an insufficient level.
Andrew Rosenzweig, White Plains, N.Y.
The writer has served in several high-ranking law enforcement positions in major East Coast cities.
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Abolish the police? Why bother? (“New flash point: Police reform,” front page, June 9.) The profession has been so grotesquely and gleefully maligned that it’s a wonder anyone stays on the force, let alone joins it.
Through two whiplash weeks we have seen the police damned as much when they don’t as when they do. When the angels of anger torched Lake Street, but the police stood back — even sacrificed their station — to avoid creating any more George Floyds, where did the media fix its glare? Not on the rioters. It blamed the police, for showing exactly the restraint that everyone had accused them of not showing.
But when the cities did decide to stop the havoc, the police were then promptly denounced for enforcing curfew against marchers who used the word “peaceful” as a license to flaunt the curfew, protest trolls who know how to suffer for news cameras and shrill reporters describing tear gas as gravely as napalm in Vietnam.
And of course the wind farms of academia had to pitch in with the same old rap that racism centuries ago proves racism today. Culture isn’t fate except when it’s a handy brickbat.
So, did some tempers snap, as in Buffalo, N.Y.? How angry would you get if you were told that you must do your job — but can’t?
Angry enough to quit?
Charles Jolliffe, Edina
Georgia’s election issues are a glimpse into our future
During the Georgia primary election, there were problems with voting machines, thus creating long lines and wait times for voters (“ ‘Chaos in Georgia’: Is messy primary a November harbinger?,” StarTribune.com, June 10). I believe it will happen again. Why, after all the years that this nation has held elections, have we not figured out how to build and ensure the proper operation of these machines? I can order food from my phone, get a confirmation of the order and receive a pickup time within seconds. I get a “thank you” on my phone after I’ve picked up my order. It can be done! And why is voting such a politically divisive issue? It’s apparent that not everyone wants to: 1) Ensure that every eligible citizen has a good opportunity to vote; 2) squelch the attempts by some to deny the right to vote to certain others; 3) quiet the voices of those who spread false information about voting methods and fraud, and 4) prevent legislators and other public officials from tinkering with district boundaries in an attempt to get desired voting outcomes. The Constitution guarantees the right to vote to all eligible citizens. I’d like to hear our politicians talk more about protecting that right.
Loren W. Brabec, Braham, Minn.
Protesters should get tested, but their privacy is at risk
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has very wisely advised all Minnesotans who participated in recent large-group activities to be tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms (“Protesters should get a COVID-19 test,” editorial, June 8). Many people in our community have been exposed to higher risk of COVID-19 infection by engaging in protests, cleanups, vigils and distribution of food and basic supplies. However, in order for people get tested, they first need to feel safe doing so. Right now, many do not.
With executive order 20-34, Gov. Tim Walz directed MDH to share the addresses of all people considered contagious with COVID-19 with the Department of Public Safety (tinyurl.com/yavqdnaf). The goal of this order was to protect first responders and conserve personal protective equipment. However, this policy should now be revoked.
Though the right to protest is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, there is a long history in our country of retaliation by law enforcement against protesters. Minnesotans, especially those who have been protesting the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, are not wrong to mistrust the system. While the governor’s intentions may have been good, this order now poses a significant barrier to adequate and recommended medical care for Minnesotans and should be revoked.
Hannah Lichtsinn, M.D, Mendota Heights, Minn.
Who are the real criminals here?
This is absurd and reckless on multiple levels. Here we have law enforcement officers, sworn to uphold the law, destroying private property in the name of the state with no due process and on the wild speculation that the property may be use to commit a crime (“Tires slashed by officers in Mpls. unrest,” June 9).
When did we start destroying property and/or locking up folks over what may happen? Where does that end?
Looks like the destruction just created a massive case of eminent domain, maybe a class-action lawsuit to recover the value of all of this property.
Or is this just an illegal act of punishment by property damage perpetrated by the Minnesota law enforcement crowd on people who dared to show up to exercise their right to protest?
Here in northwestern Montana, we had armed citizens show up at peaceful protests to protect businesses and property. Maybe we should offer the armed members of the Montana militia to the good citizens of the Twin Cities to take on these thugs destroying private property?
Jim Cossitt, Kalispell, Mont.
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Tomorrow’s headline in the paper should read “Cops run amok in Kmart parking lot vandalizing automobiles.” It’s like they don’t care what they do, or even if they are being filmed in the act. Seriously, the police scare me more than the worst of the rioters.
Thom Jesberg, East Bethel, Minn.