The Minneapolis City Council has approved the George Floyd settlement during jury selection for Derek Chauvin's trial ("Record $27M for Floyd family," front page, March 13). Why? Why now? The council has put its finger on the scales of justice. Now, no matter what the jury does — whether it acquits or finds Chauvin guilty — more of the public will not accept its verdict. How does that promote police accountability? The council was wrong. It should have waited.
Karen R. Cole, Minneapolis
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Twenty-seven million dollars is a lot of loot for a city to part with. Instead some city belt-tightening will likely happen in some departments. Like most cities, such payouts strain budgets further than they already are. If there were to be any way to lessen the city's portion of the huge Floyd penalty, I would suggest this remedy in Minneapolis and all other cities that are forced to pay for police wrongdoing:
Police unions should be back-charged for half the amount of the city penalty assessments. If the unions don't ante up voluntarily, then the unions should be sued for the appropriate amount. If police unions truly believe in and support their members, this is what they should do when confronted with bad apples in their ranks.
Gerald Lance Johannsen, Carlsbad, Calif.
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In the past 15 years, Minneapolis has spent at least $71 million to settle officer misconduct claims or lawsuits. It seems to me that the cost of educating the police force on how to react or having a mental health expert riding along with policemen while responding to a call of a person acting strangely would be less costly than paying large settlements to families, and it would preserve the life of the person in trouble. Every person's life is special and should not be cut short by anyone.
Norman Holen, Richfield
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The timing of the City Council's civil settlement in the Floyd case is outrageous. Either members are trying to minimize the property destruction they have been so concerned about should Chauvin be acquitted or they are intentionally interfering in the criminal trial, trying to deprive Chauvin of a fair trial.
The settlement with the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond came after the conviction of Mohamed Noor. Now the city settles this lawsuit while the jury selection is going on. It's hard to think of anything the council could have done that could have impinged more on the ongoing trial. The council has demonstrated it has no idea what a fair trial is all about.
Chuck Turchick, Minneapolis
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When is justice achieved? Is justice achieved with a $27 million settlement? Will justice be achieved if Chauvin is convicted? Will justice be achieved if the other officers are convicted?
I would answer no. None of the preceding actions will prevent a similar atrocity from happening again. Justice will be achieved when we ask why Chauvin was still allowed to be a police officer on May 25, 2020, let alone a training officer that day, after having many citizen complaints against him and being involved in several police shooting incidents. We would then act by overhauling the discipline process to not tolerate any violent, disrespectful behavior. And then we would determine how many other Derek Chauvins are on the police force and we would act by removing their badges.
Then we would determine all the things we have police officers do, and we would act to develop new community-centered approaches that do not require an armed response.
And then we would determine which elected officials had the power to make these changes all along and chose not to, and we would vote them out of office.
Only after we take these steps will we get closer to justice.
Pete Gamades, Minneapolis
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As a taxpaying property owner living in Minneapolis, I've estimated my portion of the $27 million to the Floyd family, and it was money gladly given and much deserved. However, wouldn't it be nice if these types of expenses (coming directly or indirectly out of my taxes) could be lessened in the future through better policing practices, training and control over rogue cops? Whether or not the Minneapolis Police Department is so unsalvageable we need to get rid of it or just reform it, I'll leave to others. But one thing is for certain: The City Council, as one of the bosses of the Police Department, must get its act together.
Ron Korsh, Minneapolis
38TH AND CHICAGO
Violence dishonors Floyd's memory
It was heartbreaking to read how violent crime and lawlessness have devastated the Minneapolis community near 38th Street and Chicago Avenue ("A cry for help as violence plagues 38th and Chicago," front page, March 15). Vigilantes have shamefully used the name of George Floyd to cordon off the area from police and allow the neighborhood to sink into a state of dangerous anarchy. Floyd deserves a better memorial than this ungovernable brutality that is disgracefully hitting residents and businesses of color in the area the hardest.
Equally infuriating is the fecklessness shown by Minneapolis leaders who have allowed the public streets and businesses near George Floyd Square to be hijacked by criminals who, according to the Star Tribune story, have a list of demands the municipal government must meet before they cede back city territory they now claim as their own.
While officials in Minneapolis ponder these proposed terms, I have a humble suggestion for a counteroffer: nothing.
Instead, the intersection of 38th and Chicago should be opened to normal traffic — today. City Hall does not need anyone's permission to do that. For free societies to survive and equal rights to prevail, the rule of law must always be upheld. Activists can and should protest peacefully, but they cannot overtake Minneapolis thoroughfares or dictate terms to duly elected officeholders.
Also, city leaders should cease negotiating with the illegal occupation altogether. A government that cowardly bargains with lawlessness only incentivizes more of it. This devastated community deserves the restoration of order and security immediately, as well as the arrest of anyone who attempts to interfere with that.
Every single resident of the City of Lakes should feel safe and be able to work and rest in peace. The violent crime ravaging the 38th and Chicago neighborhood and raging throughout the city is a violation of that most critical compact Minneapolis must start keeping again. It can do that by cracking down on criminality instead of catering to it.
Andy Brehm, St. Paul
I pray for justice for my co-worker
To the world, George Floyd has become a symbol for every Black man who was ever killed unjustly by racist police. To me, he was a soft-spoken and kind man, whom I worked with at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, which shelters over 400 single adults experiencing homelessness every night. We called him Floyd, and he was indeed the "gentle giant" I have often heard him described as since his untimely death on Memorial Day in 2020 at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers.
They say it is hard to forget a kindness, and it must be true, because I will never forget how Floyd always asked me every time he saw me, whether I was coming or going, "Sis, are you good?" As one of Harbor Light's security guards, Floyd always made me feel protected and cared for.
He deserves justice. His life matters. It mattered to me. And I sincerely hope and pray his life matters to the jurors, who are being selected to ultimately weigh the evidence and reach what I hope will be a fair and just verdict against the officers.
Floyd believed in God, which he told me one day after we attended a training at work. "I'm a believer" were his exact words, so I know that he's good. I thank and appreciate him for always showing care and concern, not just to me, but also to every one of the residents and guests who entered the doors of the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center whenever he was on duty.
May God be pleased with the life he lived while he was on this earth, and may justice for George Floyd "roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream"!
Colnese Hendon, Minneapolis
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