Nyob zoo, marhaba, selamat datang, namaste, salaam, hola, jambo, ni hao, hi!

These are just a few of the greetings heard in the halls of LEAP High School every day.

What does closing LEAP — originally and currently intended for new-to-the-country immigrant and refugee high schoolers — say to our city and state, from here in the capital, about how we feel about and welcome immigrants and refugees? ("SPPS proposes closing 5 schools," Oct. 12.)

Most of the students at LEAP are here because of hardships in their countries of origin — war, economic hardship, gang threats and violence, etc. Most, if not all, have experienced some degree of trauma, either in their country of origin or as a result of relocation to a place where the language and culture are new, often hostile, to immigrants due to the most recent years of political dissonance.

As a teacher at LEAP for the last seven years of my career, I can tell you some of what I saw working there. Students arriving from other schools, and other English-language programs at the mainstream high schools, are often traumatized by that experience itself. Being in a huge building of mostly native-English-speaking students does not lend itself to taking the risks required when you are learning a new language as an older teen. At LEAP, everyone is learning English (as a second, third, fourth or more language), so that fear and embarrassment is spread equally around. The students can relate to each other on that level, in spite of the many differences in background, and they go boldly from there, supporting each other in myriad ways.

St. Paul Public Schools has a program that works in LEAP High School. It is not a big program, but it is effective. It gives students and their families a place to land, to reorganize their lives, to consider their futures from a safe, supportive environment that gives them a shot at a successful future, which serves not only them, but all of us. I would even suggest that instead of closing the program, SPPS would more aggressively advertise it as a reason for folks to join the SPPS family.

Sandy Lucas, St. Paul


Should be punished, not pardoned

Drew Hamre says that Julian Assange should not be prosecuted for espionage based on the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press ("Assange should be freed," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 14).

The First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press .... ." That does not give the press carte blanche to commit crimes simply because they are the press. A reporter can't murder someone and claim immunity from prosecution based on freedom of the press. Neither can a publisher steal and publish classified information.

Assange is accused of helping Chelsea Manning steal classified information from the U.S. government and publishing that information. Those would be crimes regardless of whether he is considered a publisher.

Hamre tries to weaken the indictment against Assange by pointing out that it was written during the Trump administration. His crimes were committed during the Obama administration, and that administration intended to prosecute Assange and attempted to have him extradited to the U.S. That is why Assange has been in hiding since 2010. He committed serious crimes and should be tried in court, not pardoned by President Joe Biden.

James Brandt, New Brighton


Kudos to Hamre, whose commentary nicely summarized the lack of any valid U.S. legal case against Julian Assange.

As Joe Lauria argued in his exhaustive five-part July 2021 review of the Assange case at Consortium News, Assange is really being prosecuted for sedition, under a theory promoted by proto-fascist Woodrow Wilson a century ago. After three years of imprisoning American citizens for exercising their rights of free speech in opposing World War I, Congress repealed the Sedition Act after the Supreme Court failed to strike it down.

Lauria quoted Justice Hugo Black in the Pentagon papers case: "The word 'security' is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. ... The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government."

The 10-year legal farce needs to end.

William Beyer, St. Louis Park


What the Editorial Board said

I want to reinforce a point made by the Star Tribune Editorial Board in its Oct. 11 endorsement in the Minneapolis City Council Third Ward race ("Michael Rainville for downtown"). As a business leader for Graco, a Northeast fluid-handling business with nearly 100 years of history in Minneapolis and almost 1,000 employees, we have tried to engage with Council Member Steve Fletcher as we have with all council members representing the Third Ward over the years. As the editorial stated, we wish that the incumbent would have embraced his responsibility to businesses more fully. Without regard to one's politics, we do expect our civic leaders to engage with all constituents in pursuit of creating a more vibrant, safe and thriving ward. We saw no such efforts from the incumbent. We all have a stake in making this city better and working together with our elected representatives is one of the best ways to achieve this goal. We might not always agree on specific issues, but we need dialogue to move forward.

David Ahlers, Minneapolis


I would like to share my support for our current Council Member Steve Fletcher. Steve's leadership is grounded in both what his constituency wants and what our city needs, in terms of public safety and more. The role of a City Council member is not to maintain the status quo but to lead with a vision where everyone in our city is safe with access to housing, transit and the resources we need to thrive, not just survive. Steve has that vision and has implemented pieces of it: the Office of Violence Prevention, expanding mental health responders, making East Broadway a safer street and adding protections for renters, to name just a few examples. With a second term, I believe Fletcher will continue to lead our city forward for all who live here.

Amity Foster, Minneapolis


Guess what? We're still here

The print version of the article "Which Indigenous tribes first called Minnesota home?" ended with the following sentence: "In addition to the Dakota and Ojibwe, members of the Ho-Chunk, Cheyenne, Ioway, Cree and Assiniboine tribes once called Minnesota home." I have news for the writer: We still call Minnesota home. I'm a resident of Chaska, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and have lived in Minnesota for more than 60 years. It is my home.

Libby Fairchild, Chaska

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