I must take a few exceptions to the March 1 commentary discouraging the deployment of the National Guard in Minneapolis during the trial of Derek Chauvin.
First, yes, there was uncalled-for behavior by both Minneapolis police and Guard units after the death of George Floyd in police custody. Hopefully our state and local leaders have plans for controlling these kinds of less-than-useful acts in the future, and if they don't, they won't deserve re-election.
Second, with no National Guard, it follows there will be no Plan B if crowds get out of control. We saw what can happen, in May 2020, when there is a delay getting the Guard on the street — E. Lake Street was mostly destroyed. Once crowd behavior crosses that violent threshold, it is almost impossible to turn back, and we all know there is a legal and moral difference between lawful assembly and rioting.
We also know who the possible rioters are: Antifa, fascists/racists, and locals infuriated by police lawlessness. Living in the 21st century means there are cameras everywhere. Using technology to identify rioters, as well as well-planned crowd control, seem like the most prudent ways to insure the safety of citizens.
Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis
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I feel much safer knowing that the Minnesota National Guard is being called on to help keep the peace during the Chauvin trial. If Minneapolis wants to get back to being perceived as a safe place to be, what happened during the riots last year cannot be repeated. I am in support of peaceful protests, but unfortunately there are factions that may infiltrate and cause bodily injury and property damage not intended by the protesters.
Judy Foley, Lino Lakes
A well-run inoculation site, but all those people in one place …
Jim Walsh's article on the difficulties some seniors were having scheduling their COVID-19 vaccinations was published on the same day I was scheduled, along with several hundred other seniors, to receive the first of two inoculations at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Those numbers will amount to thousands there over the coming weeks.
I had no special connections, but was just selected at random from the state's over-65 pool in the online lottery signup, after waiting about a month. I considered myself fortunate, but then I have faithfully observed the masking limitations and social isolation recommended by the state Department of Health (DOH) for the past 12 months. In that time I have only left the house to buy groceries and pick up a takeout meal once or twice a week. I have been extremely careful.
So I was disappointed — to say it kindly — to find that the same DOH that has chastised us to follow their social distancing guidelines for the past year was on this morning compelling a segment of the population most vulnerable to the lethal effects of COVID-19 — none of whom have been inoculated, or we wouldn't have been there — to congregate. We were funneled through entryways together, all masked; stood in lines together, though usually 6 feet apart; and waited for 15 minutes post-inoculation observation areas together, again at least 6 feet apart.
This was a well-organized event in a large space, capable of processing a lot of people fairly quickly, but I could not fail to appreciate that there hundreds of vulnerable uninoculated people in that hall, often standing still, while breathing the same air with little more protection than a mask, some worn incorrectly. And all those hundreds/thousands have to repeat it again in a month.
This event, while welcome, should be decentralized, particularly for vulnerable populations. It's a little more difficult to organize that but much safer, particularly given the consequences for mistakes.
Patrick Hill, St. Paul
FOSSIL FUELS AND CLIMATE
A wide needle to thread, yes but the spot we pick matters
As a Feb. 16 editorial ("When weather attacks") concluded, a huge chasm exists between those who'd freeze fossil fuel infrastructure today and those who are climate change skeptics. And, yes, between the extremes lies a wide needle to thread. I propose that where we thread the wide needle is of major consequence.
John Holdren, a Harvard professor of environmental science and policy, divides our climate response options among the categories of mitigation, adaptation and suffering. We choose how the needle is threaded. Holdren explained that uncertainty does not lie with the changing climate — it lies with societal choices.
Today our environment has warmed 1.15 degrees Celsius relative to the mid-19th century. The warmest recorded decade was 2011-2020. In 2020, NASA reported $95 billion in U.S. damages from just 22 weather and climate events that exceeded a billion dollars. Global Reinsurer Munich Re reported a worldwide damage expense of $210 billion the same year. Contained within those losses is much more than money. The events translate to unimaginable human suffering. So, the question I pose is: Are we ready to experience a warming of 1.5 or 2.0 degrees Celsius or more?
Assuming the answer is no, mitigation becomes the clear choice. Adaptation is the ever increasing cost of failure to mitigate, and suffering is the guaranteed return on inaction. We cannot flip a switch, and yet we are on the clock. There is no justification for a build-out of additional unneeded and destructive fossil fuel infrastructure. And yes, that includes the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline.
Jerry Striegel, St. Paul
$15 MINIMUM WAGE
The moral imperative
The Star Tribune reports that food shelf usage doubled during the Great Recession and has not subsided since. While I am grateful for the food drives that support our neighbors in need, I cannot reconcile widespread hunger with the refusal of members of our U.S. Congress to deny these same neighbors a minimum wage of $15 an hour. St. Augustine taught that "charity is no substitute for justice withheld." Let justice include a living wage.
Julie Madden, Minneapolis
About that golden Trump
It's interesting that the conservative Republicans at the CPAC conference over the weekend created for themselves a golden statue of Donald Trump. I wonder if any of them are familiar with the scriptural story of the golden calf that the Israelites made for themselves after escaping slavery in Egypt (see Chapter 32 in the Book of Exodus). Because the Israelites did this while their leader, Moses, was up on Mount Sinai receiving the law from the Lord God, they lost favor with God and spent the rest of their lives in the wilderness. Only their children and grandchildren were eventually allowed to enter the promised land.
Makes one wonder how long the conservatives will continue to worship the golden Trump and wander in the wilderness — and the impact on the GOP?