Well, here we go again. It’s Wednesday morning as I write, and yet another interstate shutdown by protesters. I am all for exercising one’s right to protest. I did a bit of it myself in my younger days. However, the protesters’ efforts are misguided — disrupting commerce, blocking traffic and creating a potentially dangerous situation, not to mention causing people to be late for work, business and medical appointments, etc.
This particular type of protest only creates animosity and apathy for the cause. It would be better for protesters to direct their efforts toward community leaders and others who are in the position to make change.
Maybe local and state governments should consider legislation increasing the criminal penalties for such actions. The legal repercussions for these infractions generally result in a slap on the wrist. Something has to change.
Robert Nelson, Brooklyn Park
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With regard to working to get charges dropped against the rioters in Saturday’s Interstate 94 protest, the ACLU should heed the words of the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.:
Your right to wave your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.
For the benefit of those who may not understand the reference, it means that the right of Black Lives Matters to protest ends when that action directly interferes with the rights of others to pursue their own interests, such as the right to not be assaulted or the right to drive down a public thoroughfare unimpeded.
Gordon Stewart, Blaine
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My co-worker arrived at work two hours late this morning, and she was very upset. Not because she was so late — we cover for each other in our office. She was upset having overheard one side of a conversation in the vehicle next to her. A man was in tears — on the phone, begging to keep his job, saying that he really, really was stuck in traffic and simply could not arrive on time because of it. There were two little car seats in the back of the van.
I understand that people want to be heard, acknowledged, validated. If blocking a freeway healed the aching hearts in our community (and Baton Rouge and Dallas and all over the country), it would be worth the disruption. But it doesn’t. I hope this man’s story has a happy ending. Sigh.
Laura Perdue, St. Paul
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Why, oh, why is it that people of power and privilege continue to scold those seeking equal justice for tactics and timetables they find uncomfortable? The Star Tribune Editorial Board (“Charges send tough, needed message,” July 13, referring to the response to Saturday’s I-94 protest) lectures protesters that “real change” will come “over time.” How much time? This nation promised equality more than 200 years ago! By my count, that’s enough time to wait for others to decide that your rights as an American will be equal, in every way, to their own. Not just moving from the back of the bus to any seat you choose, but the right to be allowed to drive home and not be stopped by law enforcement because you have a “wide-set nose” (“Audio: He looks like ‘our suspect,’ ” July 12).
More than half a century ago, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was admonished for encouraging protests that caused discomfort and disruption. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King had had enough of those repeatedly who stated that they agreed “with the goal you seek, but not your methods of direct action.” And here we are, another several generations later, and some ask others to wait, just a little longer, and don’t get in my face with your need for the rights we have enjoyed for a lifetime.
Todd Embury, Ramsey
Doing ‘something of impact’ involves many styles, activities
Omar Alansari-Kreger’s June 13 commentary (“Do something of impact with your white privilege) is exactly the kind of divisive rhetoric we must condemn if we are to engage in constructive, meaningful dialogue. Right from the start, he wagers that all white people are guilty. Specifically, white advocates who protest and affirm Black Lives Matter’s mission but do not actually move into north Minneapolis and engage in community development are guilty of hypocrisy. I think he needs to realize the unrealistic standard he is setting. Not everyone is meant for entrepreneurship, community activism or politics; people have different skill sets and gifts.
To illustrate the foolishness of this task, I must ask why more black people don’t move out of black neighborhoods? Public schools provide IB classes, and Pell Grants and loans are available for inexpensive community colleges. I understand the cyclical nature of poverty and systemic racism, but there is a cultural aspect here. There’s a reason Roland G. Fryer, a black economist at Harvard, has condemned the ostracization faced by bright minority students for “acting white” simply by entering a path to success. According to Fryer’s research, “[t]he experience of black and white students diverges as GPAs climb above 3.5. As the GPAs of black students increase beyond this level, they tend to have fewer and fewer friends.” I won’t preach at a community I am not part of, but it is too simplistic to blame those with “white privilege” for all the ills of the black community.
Sam Carlen, St. Paul
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Regarding Alansari-Kreger’s commentary about mixing with the heart of the demographics that whites profess to care about: AARP sponsors a tutoring program for K-3 children in the heart of such challenged communities. Is there a better place to put one’s time and efforts? I have just completed the vetting process and can testify to its rigor. These folks are serious about helping children who start out behind and need some help and attention to catch up.
There are also homeless shelters that could not survive without volunteers, where many of the citizens being served are members of the working poor and others suffer from mental illness. Some have to get up at 4:30 to take two or three buses to a job in the suburbs. Volunteering at a shelter offers a good opportunity to really listen and begin to know about their lives. Each of them has a mountain to climb.
Mary McLeod, St. Paul
BETSY HODGES AND BOB KROLL
Union head sullied himself; mayor didn’t need to pin the tail
Considering his position as the head of the police union, Minneapolis Police Officers Federation President Bob Kroll has a penchant for putting his foot in his mouth with his continual inappropriate remarks, and his latest ones concerning the drawing power of the Minnesota Lynx are exhibit No. 1. He does not need anyone to point out his lack of character or finesse, as he does a fine job of that by himself.
Mayor Betsy Hodges, however, didn’t waste time getting into the gutter with him. Her own remarks concerning his were crude, crass and divisive, and probably to many of us, they bordered on obscene. She has embarrassed and failed the city by creating an even greater sense of separation between the police and citizens. What was she thinking?
She owes us all an apology.
John H. Cook, Minneapolis