It is time to ask ourselves, “What does our police department do?” Make a list, look at each function and ask: 1) Is it worth doing? 2) Who could do it better than the police? I think once we lay it out, we’ll find that police officers are the wrong people to be doing many of their assigned jobs. They aren’t trained social workers; they aren’t EMTs; most are not crime-solvers; and they are demonstrably bad at preventing crime. They are an armed force deployed to intimidate, not protect and serve.
They cannot operate effectively in a diverse culture because they have a racist culture of their own. The problem with the police force is not a few bad apples, but a culture that is rotten to the core. And even good cops, of whom there are plenty, get dragged down to the level of what we saw displayed in the George Floyd arrest.
The Minneapolis City Council has it right (“A vow to abolish the MPD,” front page, June 8). Time to begin systematically dismembering this monstrous, ineffective structure and reassigning work to more competent and cost-effective people.
Robert Veitch, Richfield
• • •
The reckless and ill-planned decision by the young and naive Minneapolis City Council to support disbanding the Minneapolis Police Department has major repercussions that our radical city government never realized.
It was obvious after watching TV interviews with Council Members Lisa Bender and Jeremiah Ellison that neither had a clue what this new paradigm will look like and how essential police and first responder services will be provided to the community.
They should have worked on a plan before making an announcement that only created panic in the community. All that they accomplished was to worsen an already demoralized police department. I predict more police officer departures and worsening crime rates and police response times in the city of Minneapolis.
The knee-jerk emotional reaction has also sent shock waves through the business community. Good luck trying to entice business conventions to our Minneapolis Convention Center, business investment or revitalization, or tourism to a city that does not appear safe or stable. Get ready for a mass exodus of businesses and residents to the suburbs as crime and police services worsen too.
The City Council should recognize that it represents far more constituents than those yelling the loudest at a protest. Someone needs to be the adult in the room and recognize the broad impact of this decision.
Corby Pelto, Minneapolis
• • •
Words matter. If protesters persist in using the terms “abolish” the police or “defund” the police, they’ll walk right into the tiger trap of the president and succeed in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Better to call for a “re-envisioning” or “reimagining” of the Police Department and commit to creating a sensible strategy for accomplishing it that involves all participants — oppressed minorities, police, experts in social and criminal reform, psychologists, elected officials, concerned citizens, etc. Don’t lose a tight match by kicking the ball in your own goal.
James Peterson, Minneapolis
• • •
As a former president of the Minneapolis City Council who served during the protests that took place in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, I am familiar with the role city officials must play in dealing with the issues that are arising today in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Yes, reforms are necessary, but abolishing the police would be counterproductive. What I would like to have done is not less police presence, but more.
We should require members of the police force to live in the city. That was the law until the police successfully lobbied to have the requirement removed by the Legislature. I believe that if a person is employed by the city and draws their income from the city, paid for by taxes on city residents, then they should share that responsibility.
I also believe that having a cop in the neighborhood, even just as a resident, automatically increases police protection for the whole neighborhood. It means a lot fewer burglaries, because burglars case their targets before they strike, and they don’t care to mess around when they know a cop is a few steps away. It means a 24-hours-a-day cop presence, not just an 8-hour shift. It means the cops get to know the neighborhood and the neighborhood gets to know the cops. And you will see them in church. Or in the mosque. They will be part of your life. And you will be part of theirs.
Dan Cohen, Minneapolis
Friendly advice: Don’t skewer allies
I’m an old, ex-hippie, progressive white guy. I’ve been demonstrating for peace and civil rights since the early ’60s. I’ve been spat upon, punched out and forcefully arrested. I will not waste my quota of words on President Donald Trump or his minions. Instead, I would like to address the leader of the demonstration who treated Mayor Jacob Frey so despicably (“Protesters march to defund Mpls. police,” June 7).
You just damaged this movement as disastrously as the fringe idiots who looted and burned. Time and again I’ve watched wonderful impulses get hijacked by mic-drunk extremists who witlessly make a mockery of a righteous cause.
Demanding a “yes or no” on-the-spot answer to gutting the police force from your movement’s best ally and highest-ranking official, and then enforcing your compelled answer by appealing to an assembled mob, is gutless and imbecilic. Or maybe you understand this rhetoric better: It’s counterproductive and counterrevolutionary.
“Leaders” like you unerringly seek out the politician most in tune with their agenda and then shove him into an abyss with infantile screams for not just the unreasonable but for the utterly impossible. What does humiliating Frey get you? And how on earth are you one whit better in that regard than Donald Trump?
Or do you just want to re-elect him? This cockamamie “defund the police” ultimatum will succeed in doing just that. It may even push us one step closer to civil war. Give your mic to somebody else. Climb down off your soap box and wise up before you hurt the good people fighting to achieve peace and justice.
Dennis J. Reardon, Bloomington, Ind.
Local shops take the gutless route: Shunning Holy Land
Several years ago, the owner of Holy Land Brand Inc.’s daughter posted some racist and anti-Jewish musings on social media. Rather than seeing this as an opportunity for healing and education, the “language police” have decided that only punishment will do (“Holy Land deli loses business over racist posts,” June 6). The good folks of Lunds & Byerlys, Seward Co-op, etc., fearing the wrath of their customers and members, have decided that CEO Majdi Wadi’s products must be banished from their shelves. In today’s political climate, he is persona non grata.
Is this the world we want to live in? Is everyone beyond forgiveness? I don’t like the language and sentiments that were posted — I happen to be Jewish myself. The reaction, however, is cowardly and hysterical. It is not virtue that is driving this boycott; it is passivity and fear. It is easier to shun people than to talk with them, so what is easy is being done.
I live in northeast Minneapolis and see Holy Land as an asset to the neighborhood. It is my hope that the business will continue to thrive despite this setback.
Charlie Meyers, Minneapolis
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.