Open letter to the peaceful protesters who have brought a message of justice and needed police reform in light of George Floyd’s death: The time and energy you have spent demonstrating is to be commended. But now the real work to bring justice and change must begin.
Marching in the street is an immediate sugar high compared to the sometimes excruciatingly slow process of effecting real and lasting change. Now you must lobby your local, state and national representatives: Call, write and meet with them. Tell your story. Put a face to it so they see the pain you have experienced. Explain in detail the changes you wish to see. Attend local meetings and state legislative hearings. Support representatives who share your values. Organize your community, your family, friends and neighbors, to join you in the effort. And do the most powerful thing of all: Vote! Yes, be loud, peacefully march and protest, but don’t stop there — make your voice heard long after the street demonstrations end.
Steve Millikan, Minneapolis
That’s what faith really looks like
Thank you, Star Tribune, for the beautiful front-page image on Wednesday of black clergy marching in silence. I was gratified that this was the image we saw above the fold this morning, rather than the photo op the president tried to create for his own political purposes.
The dignity and courage of these real faith leaders in our local communities is the image we need in these times and is a reflection of true faith instead of craven political pandering.
The Rev. Pamela Fickenscher, Northfield, Minn.
Can’t trust their information, either
Any investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department must extend to the department’s public information office, which, at this point, appears to have engaged in covering up police misconduct.
Virtually everything about the initial news release was false: The police did not respond to a “forgery in progress.” The videos of the incident show no indication that George Floyd “physically resisted officers.” The officers did not “note” that Floyd was “suffering medical distress”; rather, they caused it. More than a week later, the police chief cannot explain it and does not know the original source of the information in the news release (“Misinformation in Floyd death troubling,” June 3).
We have come to expect spin, but we shouldn’t be lied to. Until the “public information” function of the MPD is fully addressed and reformed if necessary, we can’t trust what the department says and must continue to rely on a relentless free press and citizens with cellphone cameras.
Carolyn Wolski, St. Paul
• • •
According to Richard Greelis’ commentary, the actions that lead to Floyd’s death “certainly do not represent the Minneapolis police” (“Most protesters don’t loot, most cops don’t kill,” Opinion Exchange, May 30). So, at least one of the cops present should have conducted himself in a manner that does represent the Minneapolis police.
But Greelis says Derek Chauvin didn’t. So, one of them is bad. OK.
But also, he says the other three didn’t. Huh.
It’s a shame that the sole four bad eggs out of 800 officers all happened to be in the same place at the same time.
Ben George, Roseville
• • •
Since the 1980s and the colorful reformer Tony Bouza, Minneapolis has had six police chiefs and five mayors. All attempted to improve police-community relations. All failed. Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey hope to make things better, too, and they too will fail. MPD is broken beyond fixing.
But there is a solution: Disband MPD and contract with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department for policing services.
Sure, the sheriff will need to hire a lot of Minneapolis cops. But that’s part of the benefit: They will need to be hired. Bad eggs can be identified and left behind. The toxic police union will go away. So will the financial bill for police misconduct. That price tag, since 2007, has been at least $40 million, and several times the per-capita liability of the rest of Minnesota.
Cities contract with other cities and sheriffs’ departments for police coverage all the time. Usually it’s a smaller city contracting with a larger one. But there is no reason Minneapolis can’t scrap a remarkably dysfunctional department and start over. There will be a new sheriff in town, and things can only get better.
David Therkelsen, Minneapolis
Michelle would thrive. Others, too.
With respect to Hank Shea’s opinion piece, “A democracy in crisis needs Michelle Obama,” I agree that Obama would make a terrific vice president. The Obamas undoubtedly will go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, first couple this country has had to this point.
I do not believe, however, that she is the only person who can heal the nation. Indeed, it pains me that Joe Biden has committed to picking a woman as his running mate and is being pressured to choose a black woman. This means that whoever he picks will be viewed through the lens of having been chosen from an artificially narrowed field. I would love to have him pick a black woman because she is the most qualified to help him lead the country out of all possible contenders.
That woman does not have to be Obama, who, as terrific as she is, has served and continues to serve this country in ways of her choosing. She has repeatedly said she is not interested in the job. Consider Keisha Lance Bottoms, the mayor of Atlanta. Consider Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C. Both are intelligent and articulate black women who are doing an outstanding job of leading their cities in this time of crisis. These are just two that come to mind.
Michelle Obama is not the only black woman in this nation capable of the job of vice president. It is myopic and demeans others to say so.
Elissa Mautner, Minneapolis
We’re still processing — together
My wife’s niece (who said I could share this story) has two sons. The 10-year-old has a neurological disorder that prevents him from processing what he experiences and has left him nonverbal, even though he can sense events around him and respond with simple signing. His older brother turned 13 a few days ago, in the midst of our pain and protest, unrest and violence.
Their mother took them to see some of the destruction on East Lake Street, only a few blocks from their home. The younger one knew what he saw was not good, and over and over again he signed, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” As they walked with the younger one’s repeated lament, the older one often held his brother’s hand tightly.
It is unfair that a boy of 10 cannot process and verbalize what he experiences. It is also unfair that a boy of 13 is forced to process such prejudice, terror and destruction as we have had these days. Yet, for all who watched on Lake Street, these two young brothers gave an alternative: a vision of caring and shared love and security, an image of hope.
Paul Rogers, Minneapolis
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