The news on the 2020 census results brought tears to my eyes ("Minnesota keeps its eight congressional seats," front page, April 27). I worked as an enumerator, including on the closeout team — which means I was good at the job. I say that because kudos should be given to David Wakely, at the time assistant director of census operations and engagement. I first heard Wakely speak in 2018 at a conference. He inspired me to apply to be an enumerator, to become part of the grassroots "We Count Minnesota" network and to make phone calls early in the pandemic to reach people, answer their questions and support them in completing the census.
I am not the only person Wakely inspired. He turned many of us into census nerds! I have no doubt, given the small margin that let Minnesota hold on to our eight representatives, that Wakely made this happen.
Maggie O'Connor, Minneapolis
Protesters are risking a 'not guilty'
Ah, the smell of fresh blood has drawn out the civil rights activist lawyers like agitated sharks at sea. The three guilty verdicts in the Chauvin trial have energized these activists to the point that they think what was good for Chauvin will be a cookie-cutter fit for all officer-involved killings going forward ("Orput stands by Potter charge," April 24).
Attempting to bully a prosecutor into adding more charges against Kim Potter might feel satisfying in the short term but is quite shallow in the long term. If a prosecutor cannot get a conviction, a defense attorney challenges and gets a dismissal, a judge throws it out or the jury gives those additional charges a "not guilty" verdict during the trial, the satisfaction for those additional charges will be fleeting.
Pushing the pendulum so far in the other direction and so fast in these cloudy waters will only cloud our efforts to think reasonably as we build on the results of George Floyd's horrific murder at the hands of Derek Chauvin. The state of Minnesota needs to become a leader in the United States when it comes to the accountability of all our public safety officers.
Officers need to be accountable for their actions. Prosecutors need to file the appropriate charges according to the current laws and, God willing, justice will follow.
Michael Grabner, Chanhassen
• • •
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput deserves loud applause for not giving in to pressure from activists demanding that he charge Potter with murder in the tragic death of Daunte Wright. With all deliberate speed, Orput examined the evidence and determined that the appropriate charge against Potter is manslaughter. In response to his critics, Orput correctly asserts that his ethical responsibility is to objectively apply the law to the relevant facts, not use the Potter case to exact vengeance in a twisted attempt to redress historical wrongs. It is a sign of Orput's commitment to the true meaning of "justice" that he is not giving in to the misguided crowds shouting empty slogans in his front yard.
Jerry Anderson, Eagan
Enforce the law, but fairly
A recent letter to the editor ("Not just semantics," April 27) argued that people are using the terms "because of" and "pretext" incorrectly when referring to police injuring or killing people "subsequent to ... stops for minor infractions." What the writer fails to recognize is that police are disproportionately stopping people of color and using the minor infraction as the justification for their actions. That is exactly what a pretext is. The writer concludes by saying, "If people don't want laws enforced, then the laws shouldn't be there at all." But this logic is based on a false premise and leads to an absurd conclusion. People do want laws enforced. They just want them enforced fairly.
I do agree with the writer on one point: "If we want to have discussions of redefining or reshaping policing, then let's start the discussions based on the right issues ... ." The use of minor infractions as a pretext to stop some groups of people more than others is precisely one of those issues.
Michael Householder, St. Paul
USE OF FORCE
Tragic, but at times the only option
Despite the profound and intense scrutiny of law enforcement activities around the country, it is unfair and unrealistic to axiomatically assume every use-of-force response from the police is wrong. Consider the reactions to police now in the death of a 16-year-old girl in Columbus, Ohio, named Ma'Khia Bryant ("Police shoot and kill Black girl, 16," April 22). Clearly this girl intended to stab two of her peers. What were the police supposed to do? Just because someone is a person of color doesn't give them, or anyone, a "pass" from obeying laws and ensuring societal safety.
Instead of knee-jerk protests against police, why not protest poor parenting and lack of individual restraint, both of which culminate in acts of criminality? Social and racial justice themes are very real, yet so too is personal responsibility. And, no, that is not a code word for racism. Personal responsibility is a universal human trait each of us is obliged to exercise or, yes, there will be consequences.
Discernment must be exercised between protesting any police use of force and accepting when such activity is genuinely necessary. Ask the parents of the two girls who might have been killed by Ma'Khia Bryant; did they feel the police were in the wrong? If people want justice, they must also be just.
Alan L. Pritz, Minneapolis
• • •
We all saw the bodycam footage from Columbus. Which Black life mattered more? The life that was taken or the life that was saved?
Lawrence niznick, Burnsville
GUN AT PLYMOUTH SCHOOL
The blame lies elsewhere
The article describing the Plymouth school incident where a sixth-grader brought a gun to school ("6th-grader takes handgun, fires several shots at school," April 27) included this line from the child's father:
"I think he realizes the mistake he has made," the father said. "I hope they can get him the help he needs."
I'm dumbstruck that this language blaming the 12-year-old was included; the father is the one who left a firearm unsecured where a 12-year-old could find it and bring it to school. He is the one who needs to realize the mistake he has made — not the child.
Dimitri Drekonja, Minneapolis
• • •
Please, please, if you have a gun, lock it up — really lock it up. Don't just hide it. Don't just think keeping ammunition separate is enough. Don't think, "My child knows guns and is forbidden to play with mine." Don't think just a gun case with an accessible key is enough.
Ask your child's friend's parents if they have a gun in the house and how it is locked up.
Children should be able to attend school safely without a loaded gun being shot at the ceiling. No one but the licensed gun owner should have access to a loaded gun, certainly not a child. If the owner is a threat, take the necessary steps to remove the gun.
Once a person is dead, there is no going back. Counseling, wringing hands, punishment and recriminations do not bring the person back.
Sadly, I've had way too much experience seeing families torn apart by gun deaths from kids playing, suicides, an accident, murder. The horror lives with survivors forever.
Bev Holt, Minnetrista
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.