In his June 16 commentary, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber advocates for comprehensive and long-overdue police reforms “within police departments nationwide” (“We need reform, but we also need police,” Opinion Exchange). Stauber also argues that it will be difficult to attract quality police recruits “if violence against law enforcement is tolerated and if we don’t recognize most of our police officers are of good character.”
Minnesota Statute Section 609.2231(c) makes it a felony to physically assault a police officer if the assault inflicts demonstrable bodily harm and the officer is effecting a lawful arrest or executing any other duty imposed by law. Thus, Minnesota law already provides enhanced penalties for citizens who assault police officers. But there is no similar enhanced criminal penalty for police officers who assault citizens — the “bad apples” on the police force are rewarded for their conduct with union protection and are typically reinstated. Given that police are entrusted with a special obligation to protect and serve, officers who violate that trust should be punished in the same way that citizens who assault police officers are punished. Perhaps it is time to make it a felony for a police officer to assault a citizen by using excessive force during an arrest.
Stauber also repeats the unprovable mantra that despite all of the documented cases of police misconduct across the country, the “overwhelming majority” of police officers serve their communities “with compassion and dedication.” If that statement is true, one must question why we need nationwide comprehensive police reform.
Terrance Newby, Roseville
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Mayor Jacob Frey’s commentary on June 18, “Worldwide change starts in Minneapolis,” has in his words a “common thread” that runs through diverging views. He claims “we must move forward with urgency the moment demands.”
I saw no forward movement of urgency on his part while 1,000 businesses were damaged or burned to the ground. I saw no urgency to quell rioters and looters. I saw no moves on his part whatsoever unless it was whining or crying. I saw no leadership, no decisive action except his forward movement to protect his job. Gov. Tim Walz called the city’s response an “abject failure” and removed authority from Frey’s hands by calling out the National Guard.
Frey states, “lawmakers should update state statutes” to remove arbitrators’ decisions. I believe they should be updated to remove politicians who fail their duties and obligations to uphold the law on both sides of this debate. That would include a weak mayor, council member or police chief who fails to protect the law-abiding public or each law-abiding individual or their livelihoods.
The current Minneapolis mayor and police chief seem incapable of meeting that standard whether on behalf of George Floyd or the citizens of Minneapolis. Please note that Minneapolis is well ahead of last year in shootings and is no longer safe under Frey’s lack of leadership.
Michelle Peterson, Plymouth
One Scalia was plenty, thanks
Noah Feldman (“Supreme Court ruling is a power play by Gorsuch,” Opinion Exchange, June 17) reflects on Justice Neil Gorsuch’s welcome opinion granting civil rights to all humans, noting, “it will mean liberals must treat Gorsuch as a serious justice, not just a Trump minion. This in turn will help Gorsuch’s bid to become the new Scalia.”
As a Harvard law professor, Feldman cannot have forgotten Scalia’s role in the law-free judicial coup of Bush v. Gore; Scalia’s stay disenfranchised Florida voters by stopping a recount in the 2000 presidential election.
Issued before written briefs had been submitted and before oral arguments had even been scheduled, the stay prompted attorney Vincent Bugliosi to write in the Nation, “It wouldn’t be because you had already made up your mind on what you were determined to do, come hell or high water, would it?”
Bugliosi footnoted the “pathetic” attempt at justification by Berkeley law professor John Yoo: “ ‘We should balance the short-term hit to the court’s legitimacy with whether … it was in the best interest of the country to end the electoral crisis.’ Translation: If an election is close, it’s better for the Supreme Court to pick the president, whether or not he won the election, than to have the dispute resolved in the manner prescribed by law.” Not much later, thanks to crooked Tony, we got Yoo’s legal opinions approving torture.
We didn’t need the old Scalia; the last thing we need is a new one.
William Beyer, St. Louis Park
Cheap, beautiful and now closing
What is only 1% of the city of Maplewood’s budget, brings joy to people of all ages and protects the environment with its educational programs? That would be the Maplewood Nature Center.
When I entered my doctoral program as a director of Wood Lake Nature Center, I decided to study the value of nature centers. I discovered that more than any other tax-supported facility, they served the highest variety of ages with over 76 different benefits and services. Nature centers also are an economic boost to real estate and the economy in general. I have traveled to Maplewood solely to visit this wonderful oasis. Nature centers serve schoolchildren who, now more than ever, need to get outdoors. Richard Louv (who wrote “The Last Child in the Woods”) tells us how children will have better attention spans and overall better mental health if they spend more time learning how to appreciate nature’s wonders. Adults also need places to de-stress, learn how to bird watch with the help of expert guides.
Maplewood has been on the brink of pulling the plug on this unique and needed facility and now is using the pandemic to put the last nail in the coffin of a facility that is relatively cheap to run. It is myopic and I feel sorry for the generations to come who will no longer enjoy the benefits of the hardworking naturalists who go out of their way to design programs and exhibits for their visitors.
Maplewood needs to be complimented for its support of Maplewood Nature Center over the years but called out for shutting down a place its residents and wildlife need now more than ever.
Karen Shragg, Bloomington
Wish I could mask up, but I can’t
Regarding the letter on June 18, “Would you risk these odds?”: I would love to wear a mask. I would feel much more comfortable wearing one. However, if I did wear one, I would go into a severe asthma attack within 30 to 60 seconds. That’s seconds, not minutes. I know, I’ve tried wearing one. I cannot breathe with anything covering my face. So I don’t (can’t) wear one even though I am also in the higher-risk demographic for COVID-19. If I have to go to the grocery store, I go as early as I can, go through as quickly as I can and do my best to distance myself from anyone else.
So please don’t judge a person who is not wearing a mask. Just like those with handicap stickers, one cannot always see a person’s handicap.
Patricia Wacek, Coon Rapids
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It’s impossible to follow the “Latest Advice: Close the lid, then flush” (June 17) in the article in the Star Tribune from the Washington Post about not spreading the coronavirus in restrooms. Public restrooms do not have lids to close. So, now what “advice” do experts have for us?
Barbara Nylen, Minneapolis
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