The Minneapolis City Council has only itself to blame for its 2020 charter rewrite going down in flames (“No vote on Mpls. police this fall,” front page, Aug. 6).
When you start off by pledging to abolish/end police without offering even a sketch of what will replace it, then have your council president go on CNN only to respond to the you-had-to-know-it-was-coming question of “What if, in the middle of the night, my home is broken into? Who do I call [if there are no police]?” by saying “I know that comes from a place of privilege ...” — well, where did you think this was headed? The main thing that held the council’s efforts back is they couldn’t put forward a rigorous, detailed plan. Had they done so, this would’ve been on the 2020 ballot.
But to craft such a plan, it takes hours and hours of difficult reading and researching of complex issues — something the council has avoided in favor of histrionic sloganeering. By now (early August), the council should’ve had a lengthy report available to the public, downloadable from its website. In it, they could’ve laid out a data-rich plan that cited rigorous studies and scholarship.
It wouldn’t have had to be the final plan but rather a coherent, viable prototype that could be altered as community discussions and research continued over the months ahead. This would’ve shown that the council really did have legitimate ideas — not just chic, radical-sounding slogans. Instead we got two months of political and intellectual amateur hour further embarrassing our city.
Leif Erik Bergerud, Minneapolis
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Unsurprisingly, the Minneapolis Charter Commission voted to further “study” the proposed charter amendment, which would allow for a restructuring of the city’s approach to public safety, thereby killing off voters’ opportunity to vote on it in 2020. Normally, I would say: Get to the polls in November, and vote the bums out! But it turns out we can’t do that either — no city resident voted for these people to begin with. But wait! Here’s an idea! Why don’t we either ditch the Charter Commission, or at least make it an elected body? Well, that would require ... a charter amendment. Which would run through the Charter Commission. Which would likely “study” it into oblivion, as well. Great.
Phil Duran, Minneapolis
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If the City Council had stepped out with a reasonable statement about changing the city’s public safety structure in the first place rather than those “defund, dismantle” comments, people might have been more willing to have some faith in the change process.
My neighborhood and my circle of friends and acquaintances is quite diverse. I’ve also attended a number of community meetings devoted to discussions about new visions for public safety. I can honestly say that I’ve heard no one say they want policing to remain as is. I’ve also heard no one, especially here in north Minneapolis, say they want no police department.
That the council, at this late date, sent a memo clarifying that there would be some type of police agency included in the plan was too little, too late. That should have been part of the original vision so that community members would have felt there was some realistic thought that went into it. Instead we were left with a vacuum of information into which the worst case scenarios were feared — social workers responding to break-ins, carjackings viewed as traffic issues, etc.
Change in policing can and should happen, even without a vote this year, but at this point the council members will not be given carte blanche to remake it in their flawed image.
Jeanne Torma, Minneapolis
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How do we want our city to be remembered? Minneapolis is a vibrant place, filled with diverse communities and incredible people, but with the Charter Commission’s 10-5 vote this week, it has chosen the fable of whitewashed, bike-friendly, Minnesota-nice fantasy its members live in. A stifling majority of our city’s population not only supports but actively voiced its desire to be able to vote this year to take public safety into community hands. The Charter Commission has chosen to close its ears to the will of the city, turning its back on Minneapolis by leaving the amendment off the ballot, in the hopes that the city will forget the atrocities that the Minneapolis Police Department has visited on its communities. This is cowardly and flies in the face of anyone’s idea of accountability. As a lifelong Minnesotan, and someone who values this place and these people very much, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around this selfish move the Charter Commission has made. Unelected officials deciding to silence a city ready for change just because it is convenient for them is horrible and illustrates how flawed and broken the accountability of the systems that are supposed to work for the people, not against them, are.
Even though the Charter Commission tried to block our democratic voice, we, the people of Minneapolis, will keep fighting for the collective vision of public safety we know is possible.
Eli Radtke, Minneapolis
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This is perfect: Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender, the woman who believes Minneapolis does not need a police force, filed a police report after her house was vandalized (“Mpls. City Council leader says her home was vandalized,” Aug. 5). Why would she contact a department she feels is superfluous? Doesn’t make sense.
Louise Burton, Minneapolis
City and police need that position
As a former public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, I strongly disagree with the city’s decision to do away with that position.
Trust between officers and the PIO is paramount. Officers are not inclined to share information with anyone who is not trained to know what is public and what is confidential information. They could compromise or ruin a case. Also, putting a non-police person in the middle of incidents in Minneapolis, in sometimes dangerous situations, makes no sense to me. In fact, after I left the department, the city tried that and information from police incidents came from city government. It didn’t work and eventually, the PIO role was brought back to the Police Department.
I was proud to be a member of the MPD. I think John Elder, whom I have never met, has become a sacrificial lamb in Minneapolis. The information he put out following the tragic death of George Floyd was incorrect. But it is probably what he was told.
We live in the age of body cameras and cellphones. So instead of getting rid of Elder and his position, the mayor and City Council should be looking at ways to improve the flow of information between the police, the neighborhoods, the activists and the politicians. Removing the PIO from the MPD will only exacerbate the situation.
Penny A. Parrish, Stafford, Va.
Stifle your sneeze, please!
I am appalled that Republican legislators would back a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order requiring people to wear a mask when mingling with others unless doing so would endanger their personal health (“Alliance sues to vote barefaced,” front page, Aug. 5). What a waste of taxpayer and party donor dollars!
Anyone who wants to sing, shout, talk, cough or sneeze without a mask is still welcome to do so if they are well-separated from other folks. Masks are a minor annoyance and are proven to protect nearby people. As written many years ago:
“I sneezed a sneeze into the air
It fell to earth I know not where
But hard and cold were the looks of those
In whose vicinity I snoze.”
David Drummond, Bloomington
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