I applaud Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s involvement in placing bilingual placards in squad cars informing English and Spanish speakers of their right to remain silent. I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is this right grows out of the Fifth Amendment guarantee to avoid self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel. Both non-English-speaking citizens and immigrants will benefit from this information, along with people like me who don’t find the back of a squad car a stress-free place to be.

If police union representative Lt. Bob Kroll claims he and other officers want to enforce immigration laws and do not want the placards (“Frey, police clash over placard for immigrants,” front page, Oct. 11), there is an easy fix. Resign and go work for ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Norman Korn, Hopkins

• • •

The mayor’s decision to have all MPD squad cars carry a “notice of rights” card for undocumented immigrants is wrongheaded for a number of reasons, but, most important, it will expose the city to lawsuits by immigrants who will have relied on the advice but were still detained.

The notice legally advises people that they do not have to answer any questions or say anything, and that any information they give to the jail will be shared with immigration officials. A situation will surely arise wherein an undocumented person is arrested and brought to the Hennepin County jail on some minor charge like disorderly conduct (a charge that almost always results in a person being booked and released), then will refuse to give the jail any personal information such as name and date of birth. In such a case, that person will be detained until the jail’s staff can determine his or her identity, which could take days or weeks. No jail staff will release a person unless they determine that person’s identity.

The Ramsey County jail experienced this problem during the Republican National Convention in 2008, when a few anarchists who were arrested refused to give their personal information to the jail staff. Those individuals wound up unnecessarily spending weeks in jail while the jailers tried to determine their identities.

In Minneapolis, however, the immigrant who is detained for weeks because he followed the advice on the card will have grounds to sue the city. That person will argue: “I followed the city’s advice.” So, the city better be prepared for litigation and possibly paying out some huge dollars. The mayor should withdraw his order.

Joe Tamburino, Minneapolis

The writer is an attorney.


I believe in nontraditional casting, and in my dignity as an actor

On Thursday, I read a theater review for “Mary Poppins” at Artistry in Bloomington that I felt personally attacked me as a person, as opposed to reviewing my performance. The opening lines:

“It must have seemed like a winning idea — casting a portly man in drag with little evident vocal training as Mary Poppins’ rival nanny, Miss Andrew. To underscore the polarity, he’s black, and costumed like a funeral float, in contrast with the title character’s alabaster skin, cherry-red lipstick and colorful garb.

“The problem is, this pairing unwittingly triggers throwback tropes of black mammies and white Scarletts, making this “Mary Poppins” an object lesson in the tricky business of so-called colorblind casting.”


Art in any form is beautiful and should be used to expand and challenge our way of thinking. That is why I continue to pursue roles that challenge me as a performer and the audience’s preconceived notions on how those characters look. Yes, I am what you called “portly”; however, to continuously compare me to a float, as this reviewer has also done in previous reviews, is downright disrespectful.

Even more shocking and dangerous is the reviewer’s audacity to call into question the practice of colorblind casting (nontraditional casting). As a fellow person of color, it is hurtful to see one of your own using their platform in such a way. Actors of color are continuously fighting to find their place in classical musical theater shows, especially when there are not enough roles for us. You, sir, make it easier for the next group of people casting shows to go the traditional route and leave actors of color on the outside looking in. Words matter!

I am grateful that Artistry continues to push the envelope and challenge its audiences with nontraditional casting choices. I am proud of the work that my Poppins family has put in to make this show something magical. Last, I am confident of who I am as a person and a performer. If you take personal issues with that, so be it.

This. Is. Me.

Brandon A. Jackson, St. Louis Park


Lack of middle ground relates to a willful lack of understanding

Recently, a friend posted on Facebook that she hates partisan politics and says “the answers are in the middle.” An Oct. 11 letter writer speaks of a “huge middle group that simply want the bickering … to end.” But another letter writer says the homeless encampment problem can’t be solved in a week because “most of the campers are addicts/alcoholics … these people have made poor choices, and, sadly, choices have very real consequences.” That letter writer goes on to say she has “earned every one of her ‘luxuries’ by getting up daily to work a job for 10 to 12 hours.” Similarly, a friend complained during Barack Obama’s presidency that “we’ve HAD it!” (Which I never understood. She’s tired of living in a beautiful southwest Minneapolis neighborhood house, then traveling to Florida for the winter?)

I think the reason we don’t have much of a political “middle ground” really comes down to a lack of understanding. I think many of us will never really know just what the very poor/homeless have gone through in their lives. We assume if we had been raised in the same way, we somehow would have risen above all the challenges. I do recognize that many success stories involve coming from a poor family and hard work. But many of us don’t recognize the boost we received from our upbringing, our parents’ support, our social status or the color of our skin.

I have no idea how to find middle ground. But I do believe it has to start with all of us learning more about the people who are not making it in today’s American society. We can all grow in compassion and understanding, and then I think we will all more naturally come to the middle and work together to make this country a better place for all of us.

Sandra Boes O’Brien, Minneapolis


You’re wasting your resources, you prevaricating, initialized trolls

A note to all PACs, super PACs, the RNCC and the DCCC: Although they must be very expensive, I want you to know that on my trip from the mailbox to the house, the glossy political postcards become recycled waste, not allowed in the house. When your ads appear on TV, the TV is muted. I don’t read or hear your one-sided accusations, misquotes and misinformation! What I’d really like to hear and read would be the candidates themselves talking about how they will work with others to serve the common good and not some lockstep party ideology! And to think our elected public servants just can’t find money to make sure everyone has the necessities of life — i.e., health care coverage, housing, jobs and dignity. Where are your priorities?

Betsy Vanselow, Champlin