The shooting and death of Philando Castile was a case of negligence on the part of police officer Jeronimo Yanez (“Officer Yanez found not guilty in fatal shooting of Philando Castile,” StarTribune.com, June 16). Yanez was the one in charge during the unfortunate encounter — he had the position of authority, the power and the gun in his hand. It began with the misguided decision to stop an innocent man’s car. It ended with actions affected by fear and misunderstanding. Actions that he may not have been able to consciously control. There are reasons for negligence, often complex and multifactorial — bias, fear, stress, fatigue, uncertainty, prejudice, lack of knowledge and training. Systemic issues are factors as well. However consciously unintended, negligence can cause great harm and in this case led to Castile’s wrongful death. Manslaughter was the appropriate charge. It is my wish that officer Yanez would have the character and courage to recognize his mistakes, plead guilty and ask for forgiveness — a more favorable outcome to this tragic event.
Michael Manning, Chanhassen
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Fear and racism led directly to Castile’s death. Yanez said that he was afraid for his life during the traffic stop at which he killed Castile. As a police officer, managing fear should be part of his job. So should identifying racism and its effects: Systemic racism says black men are especially dangerous, and the corresponding treatment by police, including disproportionate numbers of traffic stops, is well-documented.
Being afraid and being affected by racism does not make Yanez some kind of monster; it makes him like a lot of us. But we have got to hold ourselves individually and collectively responsible for how we act toward each other, and today we have failed.
Carolyn Schueller, Brooklyn Center
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I was born in Minnesota and have lived here for all of my 86 years of life except for my U.S. Army service. It is so obvious to me that when President Lyndon Johnson signed the civil-rights legislation, it must not have included Minnesota. I believe that the only way a black person can get justice here is if the jury is all black. Yanez pumped seven bullets into a car that he stopped for a having a rear light out — a car that Philando Castile, his girlfriend and her daughter were in — and it took him five seconds to make that decision. And in court, Castile’s family got justice? No way!
Alan Stone, Minnetonka
The Trump haters want to excuse themselves; they can’t
Steve Sack’s June 15 cartoon, in which he showed two options — a bullet and a vote — in response to the shooting Wednesday directed at congressional Republicans, was correct with an exception.
The election was held last November, and Donald Trump was elected president.
That is how our system of government works.
We have been doing this every four years for more than 200 years.
If the voters are on the right side in the cartoon, then the not-my-president crowd, the never-Trumpers, the impeachers, the beheaders, the rioters and the vicious media must be on the side of the bullet.
Bruce Granger, West Concord, Minn.
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I continue to marvel at the selective memory of people like a June 16 letter writer when they express outrage at the current level of vitriol aimed at President Donald Trump as if this is something new. For eight years, celebrities (such as Trump and Ted Nugent), news outlets and commentators (think Fox News and Breitbart, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh), and plenty of “average citizens” spewed hatred toward President Barack Obama and his family, including statements aimed at inciting violence and lying about everything from Obama’s place of birth to his policies. One could take the June 16 letter, substitute references from the left to the right and Democrats to Republicans, and exactly capture what happened between 2008 and 2016. Funny how different these things feel when the shoe is on the other foot.
Cyndy Crist, St. Paul
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Regarding “Congress, facing threats, wants tighter security” (June 16), it seems members fail to identify an obvious strategy. While it is apparent that uniformed police contained the carnage at the ballpark in Alexandria, Va., their presence did not prevent the shooting in the first place. Simply increasing police presence is not a long-term solution to gun violence. Further, allowing more people to carry guns in order to “defend themselves” defies logic. Witnesses to the baseball shooting recount difficulty in distinguishing between friendly and non-friendly fire. Putting more guns onto that playing field would only add to the confusion and make law enforcement’s job more difficult. Note also that the shooter bought his guns legally. Yet again we have demonstrated that our current background check system is incapable of separating emotionally disturbed people from their guns. If you want more security from gun violence, start with restricting such wide access to guns.
Fred Beier, Edina
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When discussing the need for gun control, a popular counterargument cites the Second Amendment and the perceived role guns serve in defending our personal freedoms from government overreach. The concern, it’s argued, is that without guns there would be nothing to stop a tyrannical government from curtailing such basic rights as free speech and religious expression.
This argument came to the forefront last August during the 2016 campaign. During a rally, then-candidate Trump claimed his opponent would leverage a potential Supreme Court pick to “abolish” the Second Amendment, suggesting “Second Amendment people” could do something to stop her.
On Wednesday, a man with a history of domestic violence and a social-media history of anti-government paranoia took that argument to heart and opened fire on a group of elected officials at a Virginia baseball diamond.
Therein lies the problem with this argument against common-sense gun legislation. One can claim lax gun laws are needed to “protect us from tyranny,” but what happens once the wrong people decide they’re the ones who get to define “tyrannical”?
Andrew Welter, Eagan
Thirteen Republicans senators are currently meeting in secret to demolish the American health care system, and there’s been barely a peep from the media about it. Last month, Republicans in the House — including Erik Paulsen, Jason Lewis and Tom Emmer of Minnesota — hastily passed a bill that would strip health insurance away from 23 million Americans and pass the savings to the wealthy. Now, a tiny group of Republican senators is writing its own version of the bill. Can we please get some aggressive coverage of this plan that will reshape one-sixth of the economy and drastically change our health insurance?
Chris Evans, Maple Grove
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Regarding the assertion of the June 14 editorial that GOP senators from the Midwest shouldn’t aid in gutting Medicaid: While it is “sadly unclear” where some Republican senators stand on Medicaid, at least four Republican senators have made it clear. Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are on record as saying they will not support gutting Medicaid. Regardless of how the other Republican senators vote, those four plus the Democrats should be enough to make sure Medicaid is protected.
Vic Presutti, Dayton, Ohio