As a Black woman, I am exhausted by the continued violence on Black people and bodies on multiple fronts. Given the current circumstances of what is happening in Minneapolis and across the nation, we see how white Americans are more valued than others. According to Dominique Thomas in the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, the "structural devaluing of Black lives leaves them vulnerable to racist physical violence. This can occur at the hands of law enforcement officers, but also citizens." The relevance to Thomas' quote is the current type of physical violence that Black communities are experiencing, which is police brutality. As we have a high-profile case that has brought public awareness to this issue, more and more cases of unarmed Black people being killed by the police are being reported at an alarming rate, which is impacting the psychological and physical health of Black people.
Black people are tired of pressing on, hoping that better days are ahead when physical violence is being inflicted on us and our community. Black people cannot continue to live in psychological distress and frankly should not have and/or be required to.
Aster Zenebe, Minneapolis
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I'm not defending the actions of former officer Kim Potter. A 26-year veteran tasked with training new officers allegedly mistaking her service weapon for her Taser is mind-boggling and inexcusable. That said, some recent letters cannot go unchallenged.
Some unequivocally stated that Daunte Wright was unarmed, insinuating the cops should have known. When you're forced to react to combative, resisting suspects in real time, you don't have the luxury of the Monday-morning quarterbacks, who always have the answers after the fact. Police react in the moment, and considering Wright was being arrested for a warrant related to gun possession, any logical and reasonable person would assume he was armed.
Another letter said "it is a fact that more people of color end up killed by police." Not every year. And twice as many whites are shot and killed by police on average than Blacks. In 2020, 457 white people were shot and killed by police vs. 243 Black people, according to the Washington Post's database. Yes, Blacks comprise only roughly 13% of the overall population, but they commit a much higher percentage of all major violent crime.
Other articles have downplayed Wright's actions, saying he appeared to "pull away." The video doesn't lie. He violently ripped away from officer control and attempted to flee. An officer could easily have been hit or dragged had he sped away.
The eye-opening documentary "The Social Dilemma" documents how tech companies have eschewed fact for profit. It lays out how more people now believe lies than the truth, because they treat the trash on their social media feeds, gathered though data harvesting and tailored to their specific beliefs by their clicks and "likes," as fact. They gobble it up, because it affirms their views. They don't understand that everything in their feed is that way by design, truth and accuracy be darned.
This deception has never been more apparent than in the letters from readers.
John Morgan, Burnsville
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Why unfairly deny police shooting victims a chance for their story to be heard and short-circuit some empathy?
Forbidding scrutiny of Wright's behavior is unfair and counterproductive. It not only leads people to judge the situation without giving a chance for Wright's side of the story to be told, it short-circuits the type of empathy required to move people to action. Sympathy is, "I feel bad for you." It moves people to pity and token gestures. Empathy is, "It could have been me," and moves people to action.
Why did the shooting happen? The scrutiny has been on the officer. Most understand her perspective. She allegedly made a tragic mistake. We all make mistakes. However, without getting a chance to hear Wright's perspective, many say, "I cannot relate to him. I would have obeyed the officer."
Let's imagine the situation from Wright's perspective. Every parent who has ever raised a kid can relate to the possibility of them panicking and doing something stupid. Wright gets pulled over. His fear and adrenaline elevate, as they would for all of us. Then he finds out he is being arrested, immediately. How would you feel about the prospect of being thrown into jail? How far would you go to get out; how much would you pay? Fearful of the prospect of being locked up in there, the kid panics. He makes a break for it, a bad decision.
That is what 20-year-old kids do. We like to think our child would never panic and do something stupid. In the back of our minds, we know otherwise.
Wright's bad decision in no way absolves the officers. They are trained professionals, and Kim Potter had been doing the job for a while. They should have hardly been surprised that a kid might try to make a run for it.
The Taser is a side issue. How does one explain the officers' seemingly over-the-top, hypervigilant response to a fairly routine encounter? If it had nothing to do with Wright's race, they need to explain it.
Dan Conlin, Maple Grove
Neighbors, not conquerors
In the Star Tribune's efforts to report the news, help me understand the choice of wording in the Monday front-page headline "Guard tightens grip on metro."
"Guard tightens grip" seems pejorative and implies something insidious, like the National Guard is somehow not following the directive of the governor. This wording completely detracts from the Guard's objective to proactively avoid a repeat of the violence, arson, vandalism and looting we experienced last year.
That headline is misleading and implies the Guard is somehow part of the problem. Instead, these are members of our own community with their own families who are protecting us and our businesses. Let's not forget that.
Steve Quigley, Eagan
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I have a message for the Minneapolis City Council ("Council: No more tear gas, rubber bullets for police," April 17). The Twin Cities is home to many police departments. Minneapolis has one, as does St. Paul, as do Bloomington, Edina, Plymouth, etc., etc., etc. You know what all police departments have in common (and city councils, for that matter)? They all want above-average police officers in their departments. Does the City Council really think that its political grandstanding is going to help Minneapolis attract and/or retain the above-average police officers it so needs? Just keep it up and you will get what you deserve.
Jack Kohler, Plymouth
Don't give control to the mob
Both April 17 letters criticizing John Kass' column ("Not what we need right now," Readers Write) ignored his main point, which is that we're all endangered when public officials are fired or fear being personally attacked when they stand up for the due process of law ("The whole world is watching Minnesota," Opinion Exchange, April 15).
In the news conference following the Daunte Wright shooting, the Brooklyn Center police chief did the right thing — he immediately made police body-camera video available. The city manager also did the right thing, saying that an investigation would be conducted and that the officer who shot Wright had a right to due process. The bad behavior came later from a council member who said the city manager was doing a "great job" — but voted to fire him anyway because she "didn't want repercussions at a personal level."
In other words, she was afraid — and she let fear, not respect for due process, dictate her vote and the city manager's fate.
I often disagree vehemently with Kass, but he's telling us an important truth when he says we're all in danger when we let fear of the mob dictate public-policy decisions.
Steven Schild, Winona
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