Like most people in Minneapolis, I care deeply about both safety and justice, about livability and racial disparities. That’s why I am moving forward with an effort to repeal two rarely used, poorly written, antiquated laws that prohibit spitting on sidewalks and lurking with criminal intentions (“Banish bias, but keep downtown livable,” editorial, March 23).

These laws do little, if anything, to improve safety or livability. Instead, they appear to do lasting damage both to individuals and to the safety and livability of our city, because they serve to criminalize people in poverty. These laws brand people as criminals, pushing them deeper into a cycle of poverty and away from the educational, housing and job opportunities they need most. The revolving door of arresting and processing people for these petty offenses takes resources from more effective community-oriented policing strategies.

The reality is that most of us care about both public safety and eradicating racial and economic disparities in our criminal-justice system. These are not opposing ideals. To treat them as such does a disservice to ourselves and the future residents of our city. By making our criminal-justice system more just, compassionate and solutions-oriented, we will also make our city safer and more livable for everyone.

Cam Gordon, Minneapolis

The writer is a member of the Minneapolis City Council, representing the Second Ward.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

These efforts are discrimination against gays. Otherwise …

First, “religious freedom” is the whopper of oxymorons. Second, the First Amendment, the one that says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” pretty much covers the subject matter already. Third, we have the civil-rights laws that are supposed to protect citizens from discrimination for merely being female, old, black, handicapped or homosexual. So why is the recent uproar over Indiana and apparently another 20 states’ laws restricted to only discrimination against gay citizens? I don’t see a restriction in the acts that limits discrimination to any one protected class. I see these acts as a license to discriminate against any and all protected classes. If my religious interpretation finds blacks to be less than human, or women less than equal or cripples offensive to my sight, these acts say that I can deny them service with impunity. Welcome to an expansion of Hobby Lobby. You can keep your civil-rights laws in place, but my complete defense will be religious freedom’s exercise — so says the Supreme Court. Here ends the lesson.

James W. Kerr, Minneapolis

 

CONCERT VENUES

Mixed reviews on commentary panning new SPCO quarters

Thank you, Margot Fortunato Galt, for your observations on the aesthetic sterility of the new Ordway concert hall (“I’m not feeling the SPCO’s new music box,” April 1). Some carpet on the bare cement floor (the acousticians prefer cement), a little woodwork and a few light fixtures on the white walls could soften the starkness of it all.

I would like to ask SPCO Board President Bruce Coppock how he would deal with the acoustics of Royal Albert Hall in London or the Musikverein in Vienna. I am not aware of any plans to take up the carpet, remove light fixtures or paint the walls white in either of these venues.

Lee Javorski, Lino Lakes

• • •

We found the visual and the acoustical experience at the new concert hall to be outstanding.

I was a violinist, and although I only performed throughout high school and college, I know how important acoustics are for the musicians and the conductor, and I have paid attention to the professionals who have made that known.

Kyu-Young Kim, the principal second violinist, stopped to talk with us at the performance we attended. (What a gentleman — he did not know us.) He was ecstatic. The room is delightful. We found the curved ceiling and textured walls to be of outstanding design. The only drawback was the square room — but we dismissed that thought immediately because we realized the constraints of the property. What respect we had for the architect and the contractor. And what joy we felt as we told Kim: You deserve this room!

Paula Roth, Edina

 

NICOLLET MALL

We can strive for the full experience without losing retail

I agree with some of the ideas about Nicollet Mall recently expressed from contributors to the Star Tribune. The current artistic designs to upgrade the pedestrian experience on the mall should not distract us from restoring the retail component of Nicollet Avenue. However, this does not mean that we should not implement the current plan to upgrade Nicollet, including the office, residential, retail and green-space projects planned for the north end of the mall. We should do both, because they reinforce each other. The artistic green space will enhance the experience for shoppers.

John Crosby, Minneapolis