It is heartening to read that local leaders are pursuing funding to help rebuild our communities after the civil unrest resulting from the killing of George Floyd.
However, it is essential to remember that simple funding for rebuilding efforts may be inadequate for many small-business owners and that funding is not the only lever that can be pulled. An adequate financial response supports small-business owners themselves through lengthy periods of unemployment during rebuilding. An adequate response offers tax breaks to businesses that are locally owned vs. corporate and chain locations. An adequate response targets a functional rebuild rather than just a cash-value replacement. Vendors, from construction to underwriting, should be community-sourced.
The goal of funding a rebuild should not be to turn damaged neighborhoods into a corporate corridor of chain restaurants and condos, pricing out the hard-hit citizens who have lived there and owned businesses for generations. The goal must be the restoration of the people, not just the buildings.
David Martin, Lakeville
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It’s encouraging to see so many Minnesota companies step up and offer support to underserved communities in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Many have pledged donations of money, food, support services and more. Thank you. But if you are part of a large company where the people at the top make a lifetime income each year and yet not every single person in the company is making a living wage, you may be hurting this cause more than helping. We know what a living wage is in every American city. We know health care costs. If you are scheduling someone just under full time and paying minimum wage with no benefits, that hurts people and communities.
Please think about the “least of these” in your company — the new person, the part-time employee, the maintenance worker. If you are serious about helping underserved communities, pledge to pay everyone a living wage. Your shareholders may complain, but your workers will have more to spend. You’ll be able to transparently say that you did the right thing for all of us.
Scott Barsuhn, Minneapolis
Who’s really to blame for this?
There has been systemic racism here for some time, as is asserted by most of our elected politicians in the Twin Cities. One political party has been in control of the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for years. If politicians are going to point fingers, they should be pointing at themselves along with the governor and others. My guess is that they are going to blame Republicans, who are not well-represented at any level of government in either city.
People should be asking those officials what they have been doing to correct racism in the past, before voting for them in the future.
Bill Filler, South St. Paul
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The initial call regarding George Floyd about passing a counterfeit $20 bill triggered a nearly forgotten memory in my own home.
We were residents of Golden Valley, and one morning, we received a phone call from the Golden Valley police. The officer refused to speak with me and insisted on talking to my husband. After the call, my husband told me he had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill to someone doing yard work at our home. He told the officer we get all of our cash at our bank ATM. This was the end of the whole episode as we never heard anything else about it.
Being a white suburbanite led to a nonissue shrug and led Floyd to four officers, a gun in his face and the loss of his life.
Christine Olson, Eden Prairie
Junior officers must speak up
I believe the upped charges in the assault on George Floyd are appropriately placed against former officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane (“Charges for all 4,” front page, June 4). I believe the training program of the Minneapolis Police Department must be overhauled to emphasize that multi-officer situations must reflect a higher degree of participant coordination.
I understand that in any hierarchical organization there is an inherent tendency for “junior” individuals to yield leadership to the apparent “senior” participant. During the 1960s and ’70s, the aviation industry suffered through multiple fatal accidents in which post-accident analysis revealed that the co-pilot or flight engineer was fully aware of a deteriorating situation but was afraid to call out the situation to the pilot in command before conditions became unrecoverable.
I believe the analogy is absolutely appropriate to the Floyd encounter. The supporting officers did not exert enough presence to avert a bad situation from becoming a fatal encounter, leading directly to a massive social and cultural explosion. The “captain” is not always right ... and it is the duty of his or her subordinates to assert their judgment to avoid a catastrophe.
Brad Shinkle, Minnetonka
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I strongly disagree with the decision to upgrade the charges against Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder, and to arrest Lane and Kueng for their involvement. Chauvin, although a bad cop who had multiple complaints regarding excessive use of force, did not intend to kill. Third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence are the appropriate charges.
Lane and Kueng were new cops with hardly any time on the force. To expect them to go up against more experienced officers like Chauvin and Thao, both aggressive, totally deaf to onlookers, and clueless regarding what can happen when using extreme force, is ludicrous.
This seems like a political decision to placate the crowd and the public but has little to do with real justice. Also, it will serve as a provocation to every police officer in the country and alienate them from wanting to make the serious systemic, cultural and structural problems in our justice system.
I totally agree that using excessive force on routine traffic stops and petty crimes that result in a death is murder and should be prosecuted as such. But anybody who thinks we can get by without a police force that has to deal with violent, hardened, ruthless gang members, sex traffickers and drug lords is truly ignorant of the ugliest that is out there.
Gwen Vilen, Rochester, Minn.
DIVERSITY IN SPORTS
Gee, some commitment
In Thursday’s article, Gophers men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino says the University of Minnesota’s athletic department is committed “to make sure we hire a staff who is really good but also making sure that it is very diverse as well” (“Pitino: ‘This is a worldwide problem’ ” June 4). That’s a nice thought, because right now all 23 head coaches are white. Should we believe him? Well, here’s an online Star Tribune headline from July 24, 2017: “University of Minnesota, where sports leaders and coaches all are white, looks to revive diversity after ‘tense year.’ ”
That was three years ago. They’re still all white.
So, two questions: Is there any reason why we should keep reading the U’s disingenuous claims about fairness and equality in the athletic department? Is there any reason why the Star Tribune should keep publishing them?
Daniel Kelliher, Minneapolis
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