Rather than point the finger, raise his fist and scream blame, Aribert Munzner, the 90-year-old artist who lost much of his work as a result of the recent riots and fires, is moving forward with his life with dignity, grace and humor (“Starting over at 90,” June 12).
These are the quiet heroes who lead and inspire by example.
Ursula Krawczyk, St. Paul
The City Council forgot something: To talk to those they claim to help
“Nothing about us without us.” With those five simple but powerful words, a group of African-American community leaders told the nine members of the Minneapolis City Council who are calling for defunding and even eliminating the Minneapolis police force to stop their “political grandstanding” and start talking with the people who will be most affected by this ridiculous suggestion (“Officers condemn Chauvin, salute chief,” front, June 12).
It is not a novel concept that the best way to solve a problem is to talk to those most in need of finding a solution to the problem. Apparently the City Council, led by President Lisa Bender, hasn’t learned that simple principle. And that’s a shame, because the African-American community leaders who spoke those words so forcefully on Thursday, while expressing their views on how to make something good out of the terrible killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, certainly know more about what it will take to improve relations with the police than do the politicians, celebrities and other publicity seekers who unfortunately garner most of the media’s attention.
Ronald Haskvitz, Golden Valley
Property damage is not public safety
Which category did my friend, neighbor and former colleague, reporter Chris Serres of the Star Tribune, fall into? Was he driving recklessly? Were there dangerous items in his car? Or was he merely parked in a parking lot seven blocks from his home?
Were there no checks of licenses to separate people living in the area and news media from others? Was there no consideration of less damaging methods of deflating tires, such as the valve stem? Was there no consideration of whether not having transportation would be more likely to keep these car owners in the area?
Was there no necessity to consider probable cause before law enforcement indiscriminately engaged in damage to property?
Was there no consideration that some cars in the area might be those of newsgatherers engaged in constitutionally protected activity that was explicitly exempted from the curfew?
I expected better from the administration of Gov. Tim Walz, whom I admire and to whose campaign I have contributed.
Out-of-control policing precipitated the death of George Floyd. Out-of-control policing will continue to undermine public confidence in law enforcement.
Steve Brandt, Minneapolis
That’s not all to remove from Capitol
Gov. Tim Walz and state Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, agree: Protesters should have used established legal processes to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus rather than topple it over (“GOP criticizes Walz after Columbus statue toppled,” June 12). But, given the significant amount of racist art that remains at the State Capitol, protesters and other interested Minnesotans still have the opportunity to use the legal method.
Some of the problematic images inside of Minnesota’s Capitol are in the chambers where state lawmakers enact legislation. The mural “Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi” is in the Senate chamber. People can read about its symbolism online, but its title alone is revealing. Today, murals can be safely removed from walls and taken to other locations.
Let’s lawfully remove that one and the four “Civilization of the Northwest” murals that people see when they step into the rotunda. These murals feature a white young man who is identified as “the American Genius.” He leaves home accompanied by Hope and Wisdom (Minerva) to eliminate “savagery,” “cowardice,” “sin,” and “stupidity.” Of course “sin” is represented by the figure of a woman. After conquering these entities, “the American Genius” heroically advances agriculture by pulling a rock out of the ground, then he gains control of the Four Winds using them to spread wheat, minerals and art all over Minnesota.
These images were intended to portray European colonization as a divine and heroic enterprise. They do not belong in the State Capitol where lawmakers see them regularly and the public encounters them when they visit. Let’s safely remove them and take them off-site to the Minnesota History Museum.
Julie Risser, Edina
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According to various media accounts, Walz had prior knowledge that the statue of Columbus was to be illegally removed by “protesters.” He and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan both took an oath of office to uphold the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. Whether they agree with the symbolism of the statue is irrelevant — the precedent they have now set is that any law they disagree with (in this case, the destruction of public property) they no longer have to enforce.
Flanagan stated she wanted all citizens to “feel welcome” at the State Capitol. How welcome does she think the average citizen will feel when they know that laws are no longer enforced there?
Craig Wurzinger, White Bear Township
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The statue of Columbus pulled down in St. Paul this week was art. And the people who pulled it down chose a piece of art they didn’t like and forcibly removed it. Art is a type of speech, and the way to engage with speech we don’t like is with more speech. Anyone can petition for a piece of public art to be removed. Better yet, create your own sculpture or film or music. But it is illiberal and a dangerous precedent to deface, damage or destroy art that we don’t agree with.
Catherine Walker, Minneapolis
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Art isn’t the reason the statue was put there, so it’s not a reason to have kept it there.
John Kaplan, St. Paul
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The argument for keeping statues of Confederate figures on display throughout the U.S. is that their presence relates history. The same argument is given for maintaining the names of military bases that honor disgraceful men. Given that understanding, why don’t we see statues of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and other despots on display, so citizens can be fully informed historically?
Surely anyone with basic comprehension can appreciate that when Gen. Robert E. Lee took part in the Civil War, eager to divide our country in half so as to maintain the institution of slavery, he became a traitor to the Union. Our Union. And surely anyone of minimal sensitivity can understand why black people feel as appalled by Lee as decent humanity is outraged by Hitler.
Statues and place names are not provided to teach history; they are provided to honor the person they name. No amount of rationalizing changes truth.
Shawn O’Rourke Gilbert, Edina
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