I believe the Minneapolis City Council’s approach to reimagining policing in Minneapolis will not find the support it needs if it continues the way it began (“Proposal reduces police funding,” front page, Nov. 28). Most residents had not heard of its plan until it was on the news, presented as a plan to defund the police at a rally at Powderhorn Park. Many residents found this alarming. Some heard it as a promise. There was no clear plan presented. There was not thorough engagement with all residents. Next the council proposed an amendment to the city charter to prepare the way for further actions in the next year. Polls at the time showed that there was no majority support, and the proposed change did not get on the ballot for a vote.
Now council members want to make changes in the budget to support moving forward with a plan that has not been defined. Are you paying attention? What you have in mind — at least some of you — may or may not be a good way to improve policing in Minneapolis. However, you have not done the necessary work to demonstrate that either way to the public. Problem-solving requires: a clear definition of the problem, evidence-supported possible solutions, engagement with all stakeholders (so, all residents and the Minneapolis Police Department), planned implementation of changes and an evaluation of the results of changes made.
The council’s approach is especially confusing when Minneapolis is experiencing increased gun violence and other crime like carjackings. It does not feel transparent.
If you have done the work, show us. If not, please do so if you want to accomplish meaningful, needed change.
Joanne Lidicker, Minneapolis
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Thank you to the City Council, as this ensures my daughter will not be choosing to attend the University of Minnesota. Safety is job one as a parent, and your city is not trending the right way when it comes to safety. I’m sure these council members have an economic plan to make up for the lost revenue to your city and university.
David Ulferts, Omaha
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The Minneapolis city budget is coming up for approval. These times are full of change, anxiety, hope and fear. The pandemic has left us with a strained economy and dire survival needs. These include safety, housing, health, food, jobs and racial justice. The history of segregation and injustice in the city is well-documented and highlighted by the death of George Floyd.
I’d like to see the city do something radical that’s needed in these times: Prioritize the needs of those most hurt by historic injustice and the pandemic. This would mean health, mental health, housing, job training, etc. It also means safety, but I do not agree with our old habit of relying on the police for this. The police have proven time and again, regardless of leadership quality, that they are infused with racism and a mafia-like attitude. Of course there are good officers, but I’d like them to speak outside of the blue wall of silence. An example of this problem is that MPD Deputy Chief Art Knight said one phrase in a Star Tribune article about the “white boys” in the force, and he got demoted by the chief.
I am not willing to fund that, and would like to see a transition away from the MPD to neighborhood peacekeeping forces, mental health and support for those without homes, etc. There is a lot of work already in motion on this, and I’d like the council to support that.
Nance Kent, Minneapolis
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Just when it looked like 2020 might finally let us up off the boxing ring canvas, our City Council leaders ride to tragedy’s aid — promising to deliver unto us the coup de grace.
Their latest proposal wouldn’t even pass a high school civics class, it has so many holes. To begin: Why rob Peter to pay Paul? If we need $8 million to juice up social services, why not propose a new tax? If the revenue from it will make public safety better, what chance is there it’d be voted down? Zero. Instead, council members act as if the only way to obtain funding for auxiliary public safety agencies is pillaging the police budget. And they appear deeply naive about human nature, with a line of social-psychological interpretation that locates nearly all evil in the “system,” not the individual heart — an ideology perfect for officials too busy virtue signaling on social media to be bothered to reflect, read or deftly lead.
Soaked in a theologically loaded binary of good vs. evil, of purity vs. corruption, such an ideology is ironically the schematic linchpin of “defund police” policies touted by the vanguard of ostensibly secular progressive activists — in this case, our City Council, a council waging a war it cannot win because it doesn’t understand the nature of the enemy nor the dynamics of the people where the battles are. In this, it’s like the tragic logic of our post-9/11 foreign wars all over again, this time at a cultural level within America.
Leif Erik Bergerud, Minneapolis
Uniforms can be billboards
To the letter writer who decried the display of the words “end racism” on Gopher football uniforms as inappropriate political speech (“Uniforms are not billboards,” Readers Write, Nov. 30): Since when is a call to end racism in any way controversial or, for that matter, political? Are these letter writers suggesting that there is a countervailing political movement that wants to “support racism”? It seems to me that the message in question is no more controversial than displaying “end hunger.”
Perhaps the letter writers feel that a call to end racism implies that racism exists (which it does) and disagree with that implication. For them I have just two words: George Floyd.
William Tajibnapis, Minneapolis
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The Gopher football players who wore “end racism” on their uniforms at the Purdue game were criticized by one letter writer for being “inappropriate” when “they’re on the job” and another writer for expressing a “political opinion” in front of people who just want to watch football. It’s not news that many see college players as “19- and 20-year-olds who get free rides to college” and that therefore these young people should not be concerned with expressing opinions on “social issues.” I would like to hope that even football fans could see the players as young men getting an education that will affect their and society’s futures. Part of that education is understanding that racism is not just a social or political issue but the pervasive belief that some races are by nature superior to others and the discrimination based on such belief.
In this past year we have seen that movements by young people can make a difference and hopefully teach older generations that we must look honestly at our country’s history of laws and unwritten practices that have affected the economics, health and life expectancy of millions of our citizens. We don’t know what discussions these young men had before the words “end racism” were put on their backs, but I hope that critical thinking and free speech were mentioned as well as the realization that there would be people who would criticize their actions.
Nancy Johnston, Minneapolis
Another wrong turn for Uptown
The Star Tribune editorial “Uptown is in a reset cycle” (Nov. 28) discussing the problems damaging the long-term vibrancy of Uptown omitted a transportation blow from the Metropolitan Council. The selection of the Kenilworth route for the Southwest light rail project bypassed Uptown rather than going down Lyndale Avenue and across the Midtown railroad trench. The route favored commuters going into downtown in the morning and home at night rather than contributing to an urban transportation network. The Met Council ridership projections missed the explosion of residency construction that occurred in downtown and Uptown. The indisputably desirable goal of supporting walking, biking and bus-riding around an Uptown nidus was severely wounded.
The development that would have happened along Lyndale will be blocked for decades along the Kenilworth Trail.
Frank Rhame, Minneapolis
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