I was a participant in Saturday’s “Justice 4 Jamar” coalition march. The coalition organization that brought me there, a group that formed a large percentage of the marchers, was Redeemer Lutheran Church of north Minneapolis. Redeemer gathered Lutheran clergy members and lay people from across the Twin Cities, including the bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod and the former national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We started the morning with wonderfully positive prayer and song, and then marched to the Fourth Precinct site, where every single one of the invited speakers and performers presented messages calling for justice, unity and peace. Out of about 300 or so people, the number of those who vented angry words, cussing out the police, was actually a tiny, tiny percentage of the total: literally, about five or six people. I hope the Star Tribune’s future coverage of the ongoing story of the Black Lives Matter group, and the Justice 4 Jamar Coalition, will include more substantial coverage that paints a fuller, more accurate picture of this remarkable movement.
Tim Fisher, Minneapolis
JAMAR CLARK CASE
‘Comply now, contest later’ is the safest course in a conflict
Upon reading U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s Dec. 11 commentary about the investigation into the shooting of Jamar Clark proceeding to a grand jury (“No more business as usual, please”) and the Dec. 21 counterpoint by Richard Greelis, a former law enforcement officer (“The search for justice — and truth”), I thought both authors missed the point.
First of all, not every police officer is bad. In fact, they are human beings serving the interest of the law, while risking their lives in the process. Sure, they have powerful means in their hands, but that is to protect themselves and to intimidate the bad minds. After all, they are justice ambassadors on the streets, in one way or another.
The majority of these men and women know what they are doing. I was pulled over twice this year. I was driving a black car with black-tinted windows. Both times, the officers released me knowing that humanity has nothing to do with power, color or race. If I had come across as rude and unruly, the likelihood is that I would have met the matching attitude.
Eric Broyles, who co-wrote the book “Encounters with Police: A Black Man’s Guide to Survival” with his friend Adrian Jackson, a police officer, said in an interview on NPR that “since you don’t know whether you are getting a true professional or a bad — a rogue — cop,” the best option is to walk away with a bruised ego rather than a bruised face. The best choice is to “comply now, contest later.”
Abdiqani Farah, Minneapolis
The writer is founder of the Straighter, a research and Somali community-relations firm.
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The grand jury system is flawed — a prosecutor can indict a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, or not. I propose that we have a special prosecutor who is a licensed attorney and is voted into office every four years, just like a county sheriff and a county attorney. This elected special prosecutor would handle all cases such as the Jamar Clark shooting statewide.
We also could pass a law stating that the present county public defender system must provide legal representation for all charged or indicted public officials against the charge made. The former makes the indictment process more fair and just, and the latter would give them a taste of the purported “fair administration of justice” that the poor and indigent receive in Minnesota.
Craig T. Seifert, Minneapolis
The writer is a paralegal and is an advocate for the ability to represent oneself in legal proceedings.
Commentator wants more from the Fed than it is tasked to give
It would appear that a civics lesson is in order for Harold Meyerson, given his Dec. 19 commentary “Fed is forgetting who has the power (hint: not workers).” The objectives of monetary policy conducted by the Fed are statutorily defined: maximum employment, price stability and moderate long-term interest rates. In deciding to raise interest rates, wage growth is but one of many secondary factors the Fed considers in assessing whether the performance of the economy warrants an interest-rate increase.
Further, inequality and the role of “power” distribution in the U.S. economy, including the decline of unions and unionization of workers, are matters far outside of the Fed’s purview and, in fact, the Fed was deliberately structured so as to insulate itself from such normative political debate. Meyerson should direct his populist angst at members of Congress and the president, as they actually have the power and statutory authority to pass and implement measures to provide for increased investments in education, job training and the like that can help alleviate inequality and get people in jobs where U.S. companies are truly competitive in today’s global economy.
John Grimes, Hopkins
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Archdiocese is still enjoying special treatment under the law
Last week, the Ramsey County attorney’s office and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis made an “unprecedented” agreement for an oversight committee of two priests, 10 lay members and an ombudsman to monitor the archdiocese’s reporting of suspected child-abuse cases (“Church, county settle civil clergy sex abuse case,” Dec. 19). This agreement will last for three years, with the church appearing in court every six months for status updates in order for the county to drop a civil suit against the church.
I don’t understand why the church and county need to spend thousands of dollars to monitor that the archdiocese follow the state-mandated reporting law for abuse of minors.
The law (Statute 626.556) is simple:
“Subd. 3. Persons mandated to report; persons voluntarily reporting. (a) A person who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused … shall immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report … if the person is:
(1) a professional or professional’s delegate who is engaged in the practice of the healing arts, social services, hospital administration, psychological or psychiatric treatment …
(2) employed as a member of the clergy …”
Why is it so difficult for the archdiocese just to follow a simple law?
Stan Johnson, Minneapolis
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There is nothing in the agreement that “settles” the civil case against the archdiocese in St. Paul, nothing noted here that makes it easier for the child — nothing that makes it less likely that child sexual abuse will happen or that, when it does, a child will know what to do. A change in what children are taught about her/his right not to be misused and/or abused, how to protect themselves, and what to do when s/he is, especially language for what is or has happened, will be what will cut into the statistics. This agreement shouldn’t also be all about adults.
Diane Adair, St. Louis Park