Like the minister's collar, "to protect and to serve" should be seen as a calling that does not get to be put on the shelf when the workday ends.

Off-duty Minneapolis police officers left their posts during Monday night's Minnesota Lynx game, leaving 7,613 fans less protected than they otherwise would have been ("Officers quit Lynx security over Black Lives stance," July 12). In the wake of Orlando and other recent events where citizens' lives have been threatened and the presence of law enforcement was needed in order to save lives, the off-duty officers' action, not the Lynx attendance, is what strikes me as truly "pathetic."

We live in a country in which freedom of speech and expression are fundamental rights, and in which our police are entrusted as the guardians of those rights. Thus, contrary to police union leader Lt. Bob Kroll's statements, it is not commendable behavior when police officers abandon their posts simply because they are offended by players who hold a critical news conference and wear controversial T-shirts. Our police are entrusted to protect all of our citizens, even those with whom they disagree.

That these officers walked out on their responsibilities to a WNBA audience that is predominantly women and composed of significant numbers of LGBT people only makes their act more questionable, especially in an environment of public discourse in which the question of whose lives matter is front and center.

It is not enough to wear a badge during the day; one must embody what that badge represents both on and off the beat. When police fail to do so, they lose the public trust.

The Rev. Adam Rao, St. Paul

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If off-duty police officers can be sent into fits of rage and storm off a contractual security job over merely seeing the words "Black Lives Matter" on Lynx players' shirts (which also bore the Dallas Police Department logo), why on Earth should these particular officers be permitted to carry guns when they're on duty? What if they have another temper tantrum while policing the streets? This incident speaks volumes about what short fuses they have, seeing enemies where none exist.

Stacey Burns, Minneapolis

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Kudos to those officers who work the Lynx games for making their own statement. Just like the Lynx players, they have an opinion of their own. The usual rush to judgment by the media and many others now includes professional athletes. The Lynx players should stick to basketball and use their personal off-time for social statements. By mixing the two, they are taking undue advantage of a platform afforded them, because of their profession and access to the media.

If I were to express my opinion by wearing a T-shirt while on the job, I would be reprimanded and disciplined. The Lynx players did this during the Jamar Clark situation, and after months of investigation, the results were no charges for the police involved. So, ladies, apparently you didn't learn a thing from that incident, and here we are again, rushing to judgment. Before you think that many people care about your opinion, check your attendance figures.

Ty Yasukawa, Burnsville

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The article describing off-duty officers' action and the commentary in the same issue written by Texas police officer Kristi Weil ("Are there really any sides on policing and race?") provide a stark juxtaposition of views on the current crisis in policing. Officer Weil, acknowledging this to be "a dark time in our nation," says "I choose to be light." Kroll, president of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, praises the officers' turning their backs on the Lynx and adds the insult that "the Lynx have such a pathetic draw." The Lynx, of course, are currently the finest professional sports team in Minnesota, but more important, in rejecting the Lynx's message that "Change starts with us, justice and accountability," Kroll chooses darkness.

John E. Valen, Walker, Minn.

• • •

I want to express my sincere thanks to the players and staff of our reigning champion Lynx for their courageous stand in the face of the most recent needless killings of African-American men by police. It is unfortunate, but not unexpected, that you were subsequently berated for your courage by someone who seems to have no personal belief in the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold. Don't let it get you down. Change never comes easily. You should all feel immensely proud for the stand you took.

Larry Weiss, Minneapolis

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg goes political and crosses a line

For years, the liberal left has wailed about the conservative bias on the Supreme Court and the alleged damage it does to labor unions, abortion-rights supporters and other bastions of left-wing thought.

What then are we to think about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's comments in a recent interview with Adam Liptak of the New York Times, in which she says of the potential addition of Judge Merrick Garland to the high court: "I'll be among five more often than among four"?

How does she know this? Does she know something about Garland that President Obama doesn't want us to know — namely, that this nominee is precisely the kind of threat to constitutional originalism that admirers of the late justice Antonin Scalia fear?

Everybody who cares about an ideology-proof Supreme Court should be disturbed by Ginsburg's politically biased comments, including those made against the prospect of a Trump presidency. So much for where she stands on objectivity under the law.

Mark D. Overholser, South St. Paul

Bernie's strong beginning

Those surprised that Bernie Sanders didn't get out of the presidential race earlier misunderstood his intentions for getting into the race in the first place: to force Democrats to publicly own their core values and proudly speak them. He has produced a long list of accomplishments that the "experts" said could not be done:

He ran an unabashedly progressive campaign.

He financed his campaign with small donations and no PAC money.

He drew larger crowds than any candidate in either party.

He brought in large numbers of young and new volunteers and gave them a loud and influential voice in the Democratic Party.

He pulled Hillary Clinton's policy positions leftward, and his delegates achieved — in Bernie's words — "the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party."

With his endorsement on Tuesday of Hillary Clinton, he showed his supporters that nothing is to be gained by abandoning the party and much is to be gained by taking it over. Whether this is the end of his revolution or the beginning is entirely dependent on whether his supporters take this important next step.

Bernie supporters like me now must take Bernie at his word: "Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president, and I am proud to stand with her here today."

George F. Greene, Brooklyn Park