The top letter on April 6 (“The NAACP and the Jamar Clark case”) was a perfect example of what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. criticized in liberals: denying the urgency of the problem of systemic racism in our country and urging black people to go slow. Nekima Levy-Pounds and the Minneapolis NAACP are pressing for simple justice for Jamar Clark, who died under horrible and very disputed circumstances. Sadly, it is easy for us white people to sit back and say, let’s move on and “raise awareness,” rather than pursue justice case by case. This is the formula for never getting to the root of the problem in our country that has deepened over 400 years. The Jamar Clark decision was so infused with racism that a trial is demanded by anyone with eyes to see. As a white person, I am committed to taking the blinders off, and am joining with the Minneapolis NAACP.
Nance Kent, Minneapolis
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I’m not usually a big Mike Freeman fan. But I have to say that his presentation on the Jamar Clark case is the most transparent cataloging of the elements taken into consideration before charging a crime that I have ever seen. There are areas he and I vehemently disagree on. But I find it incredibly courageous that he chose to forgo the secrecy of the grand jury to lay the facts, as he knows them, out in the open.
I will never support, or condemn, the decision he came to. Like most of those who have chosen to reach a conclusion and publish it on Facebook and other social media, I wasn’t there. What I do know unequivocally is that not every cop is innocent of racism and its manifestations. And not every black person who claims to be victimized by the police is an innocent victim. As long as we polarize the argument — with cops covering for cops in the name of the “thin blue line” and people of color covering for people of color because they share pigmentation — we will remain at a standstill.
Black folks are not responsible for mistrust of the police. Police are. And the police are not solely responsible for the disparities in race and their inherent impact on individual choice and communities of color. If we believe the only way to hold police accountable is for people to protest over questionable interactions, and the only way to protect communities and hold violators accountable is by an occupation-type police presence, we’re in real trouble. The Jamar Clarks are the touchstone. But until we move beyond the touchstone to the real issues, we’re just arguing about how deck chairs should be arranged on the Titanic.
Dan Cain, St. Louis Park
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In the tragic Clark case, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman laid out the evidence based on facts. It appears that some commentary and letter writers wish for more reliance on witness statements, even though there is a great deal of disagreement among witnesses. I am reminded of the movie “12 Angry Men,” in which, upon examination, witness testimonies were called into question. In the end, given discrepancies, the jury had to acquit because of reasonable doubt.
David Allan, Minnetonka
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In the aftermath of the Clark decision, it remains unclear which direction this will take race relations in the metro area. Some are fanning the flames, and others are trying to be levelheaded. However, real progress will not be made as other shooting incidents in Minneapolis receive little attention. Yes, I understand the microscope being used in the Clark matter, but where is the outrage for other gun incidents, including many in north Minneapolis? Where is Black Lives Matter? Do the lives only matter when law enforcement is involved? The uptick in violence is symptomatic of a much bigger problem than police officers.
It appears that Gov. Mark Dayton is going to shake down the Legislature for millions of dollars for the “disparities” he sees. Ah, yes, another airdrop of buckets of dollars to patch over a problem — never mind that it always ends in failure. Oh, everyone will feel good at the ribbon-cutting events and will smile for Page One. But once again, there will be no accountability and the money will soon be gone.
Instead, the solution is in your own neighbor, under each roof and with each person. Strong families, a commitment to education and, yes, a little attendance in church are the long-term solutions. Generations have been captivated with endless government programs. They have been denied their full potential. Breaking the reliance on free money is a difficult undertaking. The personal rewards are worth the time and effort to achieve them.
The solution is within each of us. The question is: Are you up for the challenge?
Joe Polunc, Cologne
In several areas of health care, nonprofits are at a disadvantage
Dr. Vacharee Peterson of Community Dental Care makes an important point about the inequity of Minnesota Department of Human Services reimbursement rates for clients whose dental care is paid by public subsidies (“Dentists see gaps in state funding,” April 6). Many recent articles have documented the increasing shortage of nonprofit providers of all forms of health care — dental, medical, mental health, etc. It is important for policymakers to investigate this issue further. Increasing business risks and potential liability coupled with inadequate Medical Assistance reimbursement rates undermine the capacity of nonprofit organizations to take the financial risks required to serve clients who frequently have the greatest needs.
David Wilmes, Roseville
The writer is a mental health manager and consultant.
Too little, too late, I guess for the hometown team
How do U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken feel about the corporate inversion scheme of Pfizer falling apart because the Treasury Department instituted new rules making it harder to dodge U.S. taxes by pretending to make a U.S. company an Irish corporation, which practice the president just called “one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there, fleeing the country just to get out of paying their taxes?” (“Report: Pfizer-Allergan deal is off,” April 6.) Our Minnesota senators let us down by supporting the very same scheme by Medtronic last year.
Gary A. Thompson, Tonka Bay
HWY. 100 PROJECT
Letter writer’s gratitude is either mistimed or truly generous
An April 4 letter writer praises construction overseers on Hwy. 100 for keeping traffic “moving beautifully” and “almost painlessly” during the project. What is she talking about? The traffic is moving along, because the construction hasn’t started for the season! As a daily user of Hwy. 100, I subscribe to MnDOT e-mail updates on the project. Lane closures begin April 10 in both directions. Let’s check in with the letter writer in a week and see what she has to say. Last summer was a nightmare.
Amy Close, Edina