A viable, ethical and just police department for all is an equity issue. I do not support the proposed charter amendment to eliminate the Minneapolis Police Department, which should be deeply reformed instead. I support the kind of intelligent reform that Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo have already embarked upon but not an expensive, disruptive, divisive and unclear process as the City Council has proposed (“Meaningful change in Mpls. policing,” editorial, July 2). Our city has been through the wringer, the most difficult year in recent memory. This current idea will only further unsettle and divide us as a city at a time when unity is needed more than ever.
I have traveled extensively in countries where police departments are corrupt, dysfunctional and essentially nonexistent. In one three-week period in Mexico and Honduras, I was robbed twice, once at gunpoint. This lack of safety and security in places like Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico is one of the main factors driving people (quite reasonably) to seek refuge in the United States. I have heard countless stories about the lack of safety and security in these places from my students, friends and neighbors. In these places, the richest and/or most powerful people have access to private security guards (like our own City Council members Andrea Jenkins, Alondra Cano and Phillipe Cunningham), the somewhat less privileged buy their own guns and install electronic security systems, and the poorest are left at the mercy of organized (and not-so-organized) criminals. This is not the future I envision and hope for in the city that I have lived in for 30 years. Minneapolis can do so much better than this.
John Strand, Minneapolis
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Regarding the City Council’s proposals to reform or disband our dysfunctional MPD — or to revise the city charter to achieve those ends — I think the city’s leadership instead should investigate what has worked in other cities and other countries and look at how those successes could be applied here.
I have a relative in Norway who asked me why the police in America have so little training. I learned that in Norway, getting into the police academy is very competitive, and as a result, only good prospects are admitted in the first place. Training in the academy lasts three years — one year in the classroom, one year on the streets with mentors, and another year in the classroom. Police are required to have 40 to 80 hours of continuing education each year. Here, future police are required to have two years of post-high school education and then several months of training, including on the streets with a mentor. (Ironically, Derek Chauvin, who is now charged with the murder of George Floyd, was acting as a mentor, despite a reported history of many prior complaints.) A better-functioning police academy could go a long way toward producing a better, kinder and more effective Police Department.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, we should be interested in what has worked elsewhere and be willing to learn from others. Disbanding or defunding the MPD or revising the city charter are all a bridge too far.
Signe Dysken, Minneapolis
Get those images out of schools
On June 10, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) issued a statement on the tragic killing of George Floyd. In part, it said that the MSHSL has “the opportunity and responsibility to support our students by listening, learning, advocating and leading.” I agree. As such, the MSHSL should ban the use of all Confederate imagery (rebel soldier mascots, flags, etc.) by member schools because such imagery symbolizes racism and white supremacy. No students should have to face this offensive imagery — at their school district or another — while participating in MSHSL activities.
If the MSHSL does not ban the use of these images, how can it honestly say the following in its June 10 statement: that it affirms “our shared humanity”? That it is working “to make dignity, respect, equity, fairness and justice the values that our students carry with them as they form their futures”? That “dignity and respect for all are nonnegotiable”? That “embracing diversity best serves all students and school communities”? That it has “a clear focus on equity, inclusion and respect”? That “through our activities and athletics, we can promote healing, build unity and work toward the elimination of racism and discrimination”? And finally, that “through our words and actions, we must honor and embrace our diversity and move forward together toward a world that is fair, equitable and just”?
It’s time for the MSHSL to turn words into deeds and ban the use of Confederate imagery by member schools.
Brett Gaul, Marshall, Minn.
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With complete sincerity I say “cheers” to Mississippi on its decision to remove the “stars and bars” from its state flag, which has been there for more than 100 years (“Mississippi moves to rid state flag of rebel emblem,” June 29). This act shows the profound impact George Floyd’s death has had upon our nation. Not with the intent to diminish the significance of their act, the fact that they will replace the insignia with “In God We Trust” was a bit of a letdown. Will it take another 100 years to get “God” off our money and our flags? Why should these promote a specific theological belief? I thought we, as citizens, had the right to believe or not to believe.
Roger Grimm, Maple Grove
REBUILDING LAKE STREET
It transformed, and will do so again
Regarding the discussion about whether or not the city of Minneapolis has done “nothing” to clean up Hennepin Avenue: Turn the focus to Lake Street (“Yes, Minneapolis government is dysfunctional,” June 26). Forty years ago I was taking the bus to temp jobs on Lake Street where I used a manual typewriter with five sheets of carbon paper to type invoices. Lake Street was a run-down, sad place then. Fast-forward to early 2020. Invoices are done on computers and Lake Street has become an extraordinarily vibrant place of diverse cultures and businesses, with colorful murals reflecting the community adorning buildings. The memory of that transformation will not fade.
Now, though many of those Lake Street businesses are damaged or rubble, I have great faith they will be rejuvenated and the community revitalized, and I expect the support of our City Council and leaders will again help Lake Street transform itself. Like Hennepin Avenue, Lake Street is a work in progress.
Diane Erdmann, Minneapolis
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I am almost 13 and have lived in Longfellow my whole life. Minneapolis means everything to me. I realize that the past few months have been hard for the city with COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd leading to protests and riots. Like I said, Lake Street and Minneapolis mean everything to me, and I don’t want to just see Lake Street be torn down and rebuilt with condos and new buildings. I know that a lot of the buildings have already collapsed because of fires. But buildings like the Minnehaha Liquors aren’t completely collapsed. I feel like it would show the strength and power of Minneapolis if we kept buildings like Minnehaha Liquors how they are, rebuilt the floors, made it safe to be in and turned it into a memorial and museum about Minneapolis and civil rights. But I am not suggesting that we make this a memorial of George Floyd, because I don’t want his name to go down in history as someone who started riots.
I don’t know where to start with this project considering I am only 13 years old and have little education on how to start something like this, so I came to the Star Tribune. Thank you for your time.
Olive Gilman, Minneapolis
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