Wouldn't a good place to start showing we're serious about eliminating gun violence be with disarming the police?
Nancy B. Miller, Minneapolis
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The front-page headline in Monday's paper about the officer-involved shooting in Brooklyn Center was misleading and inflammatory, something we certainly don't need in the current environment ("Brooklyn Center police shoot man during traffic stop"). The takeaway from the headline is that cops are now shooting people for traffic violations. It is not until the fifth paragraph of the article that one learns that the police were reacting to an outstanding warrant for the driver and were attempting to arrest him for this warrant, which was pre-existing and had nothing to do with the alleged traffic violation. Whether or not the police reaction to the driver's attempt to leave was appropriate or not is unknown at this time. What is known is that the shooting was not because of a possible traffic violation. Fix the headline!
Richard Hall, Plymouth
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One aspect of leadership is to be responsible with your actions and words. Evidently Gov. Tim Walz doesn't subscribe to this principle with his tweet about the Daunte Wright incident, writing that "Gwen and I are praying for Daunte Wright's family as our state mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement." Implicit in this is that law enforcement is already culpable of an overreach of deadly force. He didn't ask for calm, he made a declaratory statement about the Brooklyn Center incident.
This while the Derek Chauvin trial is ongoing with a tenuous calm in Minneapolis. This is not leadership!
It is pandering to a subset of voters who are already highly critical of law enforcement. Walz lowered himself to the gutter world of social media and raw politics. Contrast this with Katie Wright, Daunte's mother, who asked that the protesters remain calm when she was at the scene on Sunday.
And sadly, we have another night of looting in the Uptown/Lake Street area — which is still attempting to recover from last year's complete breakdown of order.
When will voters begin to support leaders who display a skill set that brings a calm, steady demeanor to volatile situations? There is much work to do.
Joe Polunc, Waconia
Not new, and still pernicious
I was pleased and encouraged to read Minnesota Rep. Cedrick Frazier's opinion piece on white supremacy and learn of the bill he introduced in the House, HF 593 ("We must outlaw extremism in law enforcement," Opinion Exchange, April 9). This bill would prohibit police officers from "affiliating with, supporting, or advocating for white supremacist groups ... ." The Legislature should do what it can to make sure those who protect and serve us can't be affiliated with white supremacy groups. It is shocking to know off-duty military and law enforcement officers participated with white supremacists in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol.
White supremacy groups have infiltrated law enforcement before in Minnesota. In the 1920s, there were Ku Klux Klan chapters in 87 cities with as many as 30,000 members. The Minnesota Historical Society published an article in the Minnesota History Journal on the KKK in Minnesota that's available online. One of the authors has also published a book. In that, it was noted the KKK often targeted police officers and Protestant minsters for recruitment.
All this reminds me of the saying attributed to Mark Twain: "History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes."
Wallace Wadd, Woodbury
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It is quite unbelievable that Rep. Frazier, who is trained as an attorney, could draft a piece of legislation that is so blatantly unconstitutional. The goal of eliminating extremism in law enforcement is certainly an admirable one, that most would likely support. Unfortunately this bill goes way beyond that and criminalizes "religious bigotry" and "inflammatory speech." Rep. Frazier even goes so far as to state that "this is not the time for 'whataboutisms' and 'both sides' arguments," effectively shutting down any debate about the issue. Instead of working to better relations among all races, Rep. Frazier's bill will unfortunately create more divisions.
Patrick J. Sheahan, Stillwater
GEORGIA VOTING LAW
A partial list of its flaws
Defenders of the new Georgia voting law focus on the so-called benefits but never mention the following:
1. The law mandates at least one drop box per county. But it also limits additional drop boxes to either one per 100,000 registered voters or one per advance voting location, depending on which is fewer.
2. The drop boxes won't be available in the last four days of an election, when drop boxes become particularly useful because of potential postage delays that could cause the ballot to arrive late to elections offices. (Translation: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.)
3. The law also states that the General Assembly will select the chair of the State Elections Board, rather than the board being chaired by the Georgia secretary of state.
4. And, under the new law, if a majority of the five-member State Elections Board decides that a county's elections officials have been doing their job poorly, the board can suspend those officials and replace them with one person the board has hand-picked to serve as a temporary superintendent, with the same powers the officials had. (Translation: Removing local control of elections in favor of a single person selected by the State Elections Board; what could go wrong?)
Any thinking adult (and the Supreme Court) can figure what they are doing here!
James Halvorson, Farmington
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I disagree with the recent letter writer who insists that Georgia's ban on handing out refreshments to voters standing in long lines is an honorable effort to prevent the influence of votes. I believe anyone standing in a long line for hours to vote is a highly determined individual who will be uneasily swayed from their predetermined ballot decision. Perhaps if Georgia instead provided more accessible voting stations the ban would be unnecessary. My response to the writer is of course to convince him that Georgia's new voter law isn't designed to fix unsubstantiated voter fraud but to enact voter suppression of nonwhites. Failing that, I'm certain I'll win him over with a free bottle of water and a bag of chips.
Steven Mark, Minnetonka
More of this group's rich history
Thanks are due to Ahmed Tharwat for his informative commentary about Arab American Heritage Month ("An Arab American's guide to Arab Americans," Opinion Exchange, April 10). Just a few additions:
The first immigrants arrived in the late 19th century, and most of them were illiterate, as Mr. Tharwat states. But there were numerous literary figures among them, ones who shaped Arabic writing and thought in the 20th century. Kahlil Gibran, author of "The Prophet," arrived in Boston as a child; Ameen Rihani admired Emerson, imitated Whitman in his verse, and wrote the first English novel by an Arab in the United States. Khalil Sakakini left a diary describing the hard conditions of immigrants in 1907, while assisting a Columbia University professor in editing Syriac and Arabic manuscripts.
There were other, little known writers as well. One described his journey into gold-rich Alaska and the Klondike in the 1890s; and a "Syrian soldier" wrote about the American-Spanish war in Cuba, while praising Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. The Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali Pasha toured the United States in 1912 and wrote movingly about the plight of the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco, and of the Native Americans in Alaska. Alas, he had only one sentence about Minnesota!
Mr. Tharwat describes the difficulty many Arabs find in distinguishing "B" from "P." In the first Arabic book published in the United States, the "Stranger in the West" poem (New York, 1895), Mikhail Rustum included similar humorous anecdotes. A 1909 edition of this book is available at Wilson Library, University of Minnesota.
NABIL MATAR, Minneapolis
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