Most reports on this week's "Treaty People Gathering" in northern Minnesota ("Line 3 opponents turn up the heat," front page, June 8) mention that activists resisting the Enbridge pipeline are trying to protect wetlands and drinking water for Indigenous people and rural communities. This is all true. But why aren't we talking about the imminent threat to water downstream? Right now Enbridge is preparing to drill underneath the Mississippi River. If you live in Minneapolis, St. Paul or St. Cloud — not to mention New Orleans or other cities downstream — then the water in your pipes comes from the Mississippi, for you and 18 million other Americans.
Enbridge keeps saying that it can safely pump high-pressure tar sands oil underneath our lakes and rivers, but then, it always says that. It said it could protect the water in Grand Rapids, before spilling 1.7 million gallons of oil into the Prairie River. It said that in Michigan before spilling 1.1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. It has exhausted the public trust.
Line 3 needs a social license to operate. This week, that social license has been revoked.
Sarah Heller, Minneapolis
In northern Minnesota we are witnessing a familiar story. Tribal communities and their allies are actively opposing the construction of the Line 3 oil pipeline, and the state is deploying forces to remove peaceful protesters.
The land where the Line 3 pipeline is being constructed is governed by our nation's treaties with sovereign tribal nations. Treaties made between these nations are binding upon all of us as residents of the United States. Honoring these treaties is not optional. They are enshrined in statute. Yet, time and again, elected officials and agencies responsible for upholding the law have ignored our treaties and granted permits that violate them.
Excuses have been made for this failure. And each failure has further eroded the relationships defined by our treaties and any trust that might have been nurtured by honoring them.
Every breach of the law has sullied our collective honor.
Every violation on our part has resulted in economic and ecological consequences for tribal communities. And when tribal communities courageously organize and protest violations as they are today at Line 3, they are arrested for trespass. They are treated as the criminals by those who have failed to uphold the law.
The original Line 3 pipeline would never have been constructed if the treaties had been honored. The replacement pipe must not be built for the same reason.
Only by breaking this pattern of violating our treaties can we begin to make amends for decades of failure and forge an honorable relationship with tribal communities. We owe this to ourselves and our children. Elected leaders who swear an oath to uphold the law cannot in good conscience do otherwise.
Marita Bujold, St. Paul
GEORGE FLOYD SQUARE
Want equality? Reopen the area.
Sometimes a front-end loader is a tool of equality ("City wants to gentrify George Floyd Square," Opinion Exchange, June 9). Equality means everyone has access to city streets and the businesses that depend on peaceful interactions. Corporations are entities that unite individuals around a common mission to generate wealth for the owners and increase commercial activity for the community. And yes, many small businesses are corporations. Gentrification is the idea that residents can have nice things like coffee shops, markets, boulevard gardens, safety from violence and the confidence that neighbors share common values. Communication is what happens between people who are interested in supporting successful outcomes and building trust using values-grounded dialogue and active listening. Garbage pickup is a weekly event that clears away the mess left from the previous week's shortcomings to achieve the recognition that we are flawed human beings operating in an imperfect and unjust world.
The good news is that we made these problems ourselves and we have the power to fix them.
George Hutchinson, Minneapolis
As an old white guy who lives in the neighborhood, I'll be happy when I can drive down 38th Street again. As someone who remembers the "race riots" of the past, I don't see any significant change in tactics through the years: Just throw enough money at a problem and it will go away. We continue to ignore the elephant in the room that isn't going away: trust. White people can trust the Minneapolis Police Department to keep troubles out of their neighborhoods and only seem to care about that. There are many law-abiding people who know who is doing the carjacking and shooting and are afraid to speak up. How can minorities trust police who:
- Look different from them?
- Feel that the neighborhoods they work in are too horrible to live in themselves?
- Approach them with their hands on their guns?
- Stop them on pretenses to seemingly find out how they can harass them?
- Have officers who have used excessive force and insulted them or their acquaintances retained on the force with no consequences?
- Are paid so little that they moonlight other jobs to live the financial life they desire?
- Are not held to higher standards of behavior than the average citizen?
I would suggest that we don't need more police, we need better peace officers. You can't develop trust without getting to know someone. It's extremely hard to get to know a cop who comes in from the suburbs every day, heavily armed, and who only leaves their car when other officers are around or to go home at the end of the day. Let's get rid of our occupying military force and replace it with caring peace officers who are paid a better wage.
Carl Berdie, Minneapolis
RIGHT TO CARRY
More guns, more gun suicides
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Minnesota argues that 18-year-old Minnesotans should be permitted to carry handguns in public because U.S. citizens who are 18 are considered adults "for almost all purposes" ("Three young Minnesotans sue for right to carry handguns in public," June 9). This may be true, but there are two notable exceptions — alcohol and tobacco, both because of the threat of self-harm. A policy change that would let individuals as young as 18 carry handguns in public can be expected to result in higher levels of teen and young adult suicide. An analysis of changes in gun laws in Missouri that was published in JAMA Open in 2020 found that lowering the concealed carry minimum legal age to 19 years was associated with increased firearm suicide rates by one-third in adolescents aged 14 to 18 years and by 7.2% in young adults aged 19 to 24 years.
The preponderance of the evidence is clear: More guns means more deaths, both from self-harm and harm to others. This country and this state are in the midst of a gun violence epidemic. We don't need to exacerbate it by loosening our permit-to-carry laws.
Thomas Erling Kottke, St. Paul
A Woodbury dad thought he would save his son by rushing to the rescue with his gun and firing shots at people who were allegedly harassing his son and another teen ("Stepdad charged with starting gunfire that killed Woodbury teen at grad party," June 8). Those people returned fire, and his son was shot and killed. Once again, the firearm purchased to protect was the cause of actions that brought unnecessary death. The tired irony of this familiar story belies the National Rifle Association slogan, "Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Guns change an argument into a war. War kills people, often indiscriminately.
We are on a pace to have a record number of gun homicides this year. Does anyone really believe that more guns is the answer?
Robert Veitch, Richfield
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