North Minneapolis is a “war zone” the same way ketchup is spicy. Last year, the city saw 49 murders. Fifteen occurred on the North Side. Since 2011, 470,000 people have lost their lives in Syria. So while Mickey Cook’s hyperbolic lead sentence in her April 21 commentary “Open your eyes to our North Side nightmare” may garner page views, it fails to reflect reality. Minneapolis doesn’t even compare with the more violent U.S. cities. Baltimore and Chicago had roughly 10 times more homicides than Minneapolis last year.

Yes, there is litter, loud music and gunshots. A Zillow map of Minneapolis homes listed for less than $160,000 could easily be confused with Minneapolis Police Department shot maps. But in this tight housing market, first-time home buyers have incentives to move north. And if we want to clean up the community, we have to stop scaring away potential homeowners with uninformed opinions and sensational stories.

Last year, my wife and I bought a move-in-ready, 1920s Arts and Crafts bungalow at the low end of our budget, in the Jordan neighborhood. Our property taxes run about $700 a year, and we took advantage of state and community-sponsored programs that paid $10,000 toward our down payment and lowered our interest rate by 33 percent.

Unlike Cook, we ride our bikes and walk our dog, because we know that violent crime is rarely random. Regardless of geography, it is almost always among acquaintances and committed in reaction to a feeling of vulnerability or disrespect. NoMi isn’t a war zone; it’s an affordable community that yearns for confident, responsible residents.

Roman Merino Franco, Minneapolis

• • •

In 2003, as a young single mother and a Target corporate employee, I bought my first home. I found a beautiful Craftsman home so spacious and elegant with a room for both my children. I had become a single mom in 1995 due to a still-unsolved killing. This was my dream to have a big home that I could afford to raise my children in. The first night in my home, as the sirens went off and my alarm sounded, I cried. What had I done? What had I done to my children? Thinking back, I remember how the real estate agent would only show me the home in the Jordan area of north Minneapolis in the early morning, even when I said both times that after work was better.

My first visit to a north Minneapolis school, there was no toilet paper in the bathroom and no paper towels, and the lot was filled with trash. I was so happy when I found out I could send my children to the Wayzata School District. I could send them to school away from here, but sadly I couldn’t keep the neighborhood from infecting them and our lives.

Bullets became like the mosquitoes in the small town we came from. Picking up trash in my yard when I came home from work became as normal as brushing my teeth. Seeing dead bodies and memorials was barely even noticeable. Calls from my child, at my office, that she happened upon a burglar in my house became a chance to get new electronics. Screaming, gunfire, trash, Level Three sex offenders on my corner are what became of my dream. Around me are tarps still left from the tornado many years ago, and housing project after housing project after they tore down the ones on Hwy. 55. Concentration of poverty and projects still thrive in this area, and just because they put up a brick facade, they are still a project.

I have become this black woman who dislikes people, police, judges, the mayor — they don’t care about my dreams. They care about plastic bags and bike paths. They listen to Black Lives Matter and a few neighborhood boards who want bike paths.

Please stop pretending that African-Americans don’t want to feel safe, don’t want crime controlled. We do! It’s not a race issue, and the only ones who object are criminals or family of criminals. Police officers, please do your job! I have my North Vent page where I can gather with like-minded people, and if not for that, I would lose my mind. I did have a dream. #DOSOMETHING

Dana Fisher, Minneapolis


There’s no cause for the fear and alarm opponents are raising

A recent letter writer certainly has a low opinion of Minnesota’s cisgender men (those born male whose gender identity is also male). Now that Target has adopted a fair and sensible restroom policy, she believes cisgender men will flock to the stores for the express purpose of pretending to be transgender women so that they can menace and assault women in restrooms.

I simply do not see that happening (and if it ever does, there are laws to address it); nor do I see why transgender women should be punished for the potential bad behavior of cisgender men. (The bathroom bill also targets trans men, of course, but bill proponents are clearly pitching it as a way to “protect” women and girls.)

As for me, I’ll continue to do my business — in both senses of the word — at Target, my only fear being the same one I’ve always had: that I will go into the store to buy a couple of items, and come out with $300 worth of stuff.

Anne Hamre, Roseville

• • •

I have news for the reader who says she will no longer shop at Target because of its gender-inclusive policy (letters, April 21): You have been sharing the women’s restroom with transgender women for years and, even if you boycott Target, you will continue to share restrooms and fitting rooms with transgender women. Seriously, you cannot tell by appearances. So, unless you are going to require birth certificates for entrance into these facilities, so-called bathroom laws are unenforceable.

My advice to the reader: Relax. Transgender people are not perverts; they are not sexual predators. They are simply people who, just like you and me, need and want to use the bathrooms and fitting rooms safely.

Joyce Denn, Woodbury

• • •

What seems to be missing from the school restroom issue (aside from the politically incorrect but foundational question of the origin and natural history of transgender) is the rights of the nontransgender members of the population. If restrooms are to be made available, why not let it be the small, single stall “either/or” restrooms that are often seen in public places?

Ross S. Olson, Richfield


Those underlying ‘myths’ are, in fact, why it’s in the courts

So “tenure is not a four-letter word”! (“Teacher tenure: Here’s what you need to know,” Opinion Exchange, April 20.) The highly educated Prof. Mark Paige is educating us Minnesota idiots about the myths of tenure. He explains that (1) tenure is not lifetime employment, (2) not at all does it prohibit school administrators from doing their jobs and (3) the courts shouldn’t be involved in education policy.

Who is he kidding? The Minnesota Legislature passed a bipartisan bill in 2012 to change tenure for exactly these reasons. But Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill to pay back the teachers union for its support. If the people of Minnesota want tenure change and their elected legislators can’t accomplish it, then using the courts is the only other option. It’s too bad that our governor chose to support the teachers union rather than our children!

Oh, and by the way, Prof. Paige, I had to consult my dictionary for two words that you used in the last paragraph of your article — tangential and Pyrrhic. Maybe if my teachers hadn’t been tenured, I would have a better vocabulary!

Don Haberman, Orono


Loved one, nothing compares 2 U

Upon opening the April 21 issue of the Star Tribune, I was taken aback by the short item on Page A2 naming Jennifer Aniston as the “world’s most beautiful woman.”

Clearly, there has been some mistake. By any definition of the word beauty, my friend (and wife of 26 years), Emily, is without a doubt the world’s most beautiful woman. Hands down. No contest. Sorry, Jen.

Kent Aldrich, St. Paul