I fervently hope for justice for George Floyd, too, but I'd like to prevail upon the demonstrators to stop blocking light rail and/or traffic ("Speakers, protesters urge justice, accountability," March 29). The trial has only just begun. There have already been numerous protests. We get the message. Yes, things need to change, we need to work to change laws and police procedures. But give us commuters a break already — at least until the trial is over. Do I have to fret for an entire month about whether I can get home or not?
It is already stressful for those of us who must commute every day to work. The bus schedule has been reduced because of COVID-19. We worry about catching it ourselves, and some commuters don't wear masks, particularly on the light rail. If I miss my rush-hour bus because of light-rail obstruction, I have to wait another hour and a half to take a bus home or spend $35 on a cab. I'm sure the protesters all have a car ride home. If the downtown situation looks unsafe, the cabs and Uber don't want to come either. The time of the riot, I was afraid I'd be stuck downtown all night.
There's already the stress of dealing with panhandlers, mentally unstable people and drunk people, worrying about increased crime in downtown Minneapolis and on the light rail and, for me, waiting every night across from Target where troublemakers are always hanging around the Target entrance. I've literally witnessed a fistfight there and loud arguments and just people who are extremely loud and attention-seeking. There need to be police cars around that intersection more often.
Trust me, most of us riding light rail aren't the privileged who are driving or working from home. Why do we have to pay the price here?
Stephanie Sarich, Minnetonka
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Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin's lawyer, is quoted in the paper having written that "Mr. Floyd could not breathe because he ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl ... ." Medically, this is not possible. An opioid overdose has an effect on the brain that suppresses the drive to breathe. A lethal dose of fentanyl would cause lethargy, no awareness of a need to breathe, and hence no struggle to breathe. People under the effects of excess narcotics simply do not care if they are breathing. This was clearly not the case with Mr. Floyd, who was begging to be allowed to breathe. This raises concerns for me, as a physician, that the defense may not be committed to presenting clear medical facts.
Susan Hasti, Minneapolis
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Like many, I've been feeling trepidation about the Chauvin trial. My anxiety eased somewhat when I read coverage of the opening statements in the Star Tribune and learned attorney Jerry Blackwell is helping lead the prosecution. It may be rare that someone says what I'd like to say — that I've had the good pleasure and honor of working with this attorney. Typically, not much about the legal field is uplifting, nor even sometimes completely honorable. But I can and want to make this statement: Mr. Blackwell is a wonderful man and an even better attorney. I see he's also working for the prosecution pro bono.
Best wishes on a fair and speedy trial, Minneapolis. And thank you, Mr. Blackwell, for sharing your time, talent and truth for the betterment of our public. Mr. Floyd's story is in your caring, capable hands.
M. Michele Maurer, Hopkins
On use of force, more questions
As a (retired) math teacher, I enjoy stories that rely heavily on math. A recent story about use-of-force incidents in Duluth is a case in point ("Duluth minorities call for equal treatment by police," March 27). In brief, the article says that the percentage of nonwhite suspects involved in use-of-force incidents is higher than the percentage of nonwhite people in the general population. For some, that shows discrimination and that's the end of the story. For others, it's the beginning.
These others wonder about other demographics. Is the percentage of male suspects involved in use-of-force incidents statistically equal to the percentage of males in the general population? If not, does this indicate a systemic bias against males? Do the percentages of suspects involved in use-of-force incidents match the percentages of people in the general population in age? in education? in income? If not, what does that mean?
If a student brought me this article and its conclusion, I'd ask three questions:
Is disproportionality proof of bias or evidence of bias? If disproportionality is proof of bias, does that criterion apply to all demographics? If disproportionality is evidence of bias, what else do you need to know to prove bias?
The question of bias is not a math question, for which I am grateful. Let me live in the numbers and let others draw conclusions.
Rolf Bolstad, Minneapolis
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The president of the Duluth branch of the NAACP accuses the Duluth police of racially biased policing because minorities are arrested and are involved in police use-of-force incidents at higher rates than are whites. She says that she expects that use of force and arrest rates to be proportional to the racial demographics of the region.
Her claims assume that the crime rates are exactly the same for all racial groups and therefore that any disparities in arrests and use of force is caused by racial biases in the police department.
Rather than simply assuming the cause of the disparities, we need to look into their causes. Are innocent minorities being arrested? If so, their conviction rates should be lower than the conviction rate for whites. Is that the case?
Simply assuming that the cause of every disparity is discrimination is not reasonable. We need to look closer to determine the root causes.
James Brandt, New Brighton
Stereotyped, but gaining recognition
We have all received the call — a random man asking, "What kind of massage do you do?" He does not want to give his e-mail address, he wants to pay in cash and he wants his massage today and maybe even tonight! I have learned to screen these calls in my 19-year career as a massage and shiatsu therapist. The recent shootings in Georgia served as a brutal reminder that lurking around the perimeter of the massage therapy profession are sex addicts, sex workers and human traffickers. Even though research is increasingly showing the efficacy of massage in treating pain and psychosomatic issues related to anxiety and depression, and while more doctors are referring clients to us, we remain on the fringes of the medical community and can still be conflated with prostitution.
With the COVID vaccine rollout, massage therapists were included with health care workers and were able to get our shot. This was a step in being recognized for our contribution to health care. In Minnesota, we are hard at work to get massage and shiatsu legislation passed so that we can be licensed and participate fully in the health care delivery system.
I am asking the reader to remember that massage is good medicine. I am asking my colleagues to advocate for our Asian American colleagues and to take a stance against human trafficking. I am asking everyone to support the massage and shiatsu bill to license this profession. And, a reminder: Draping is required for everyone!
April Fleck, Minneapolis
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