I’m a 17-year-old black male from North Branch, a rural community about 40 minutes outside of Minneapolis. As a young black teen who has lived relatively far from police brutality and crime, I never expected to watch what I can only describe as the killing of a defenseless man in broad daylight in a city I frequently travel to for extracurricular activities and events, but here we are. I’ve always had faith and trust in the police, some of whom I know and consider friends, but the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd have greatly shaken that trust to my core.

Before this tragedy, I tried to ignore what I’d heard on the news and from those around me regarding police brutality toward black men such as myself, but I cannot do so anymore. How can I have faith in police — those people who are supposed to protect us — when I don’t even feel safe signing a receipt or standing outside a storefront minding my own business? How can I have trust in police when they readily and blindly support each other as members of their community do wrong?

As I watch the news and hear stories of the riots taking place in Minneapolis, I think to myself, “Is man destined for anything but violence?” While I may have these fears and doubts, I am reminded of a virtue that my parents instilled within me, a virtue that cannot be smothered or choked out — hope. I have hope in the heart of man, black or white, that he may create a better and more caring society.

Now is the time for us as Minnesotans, Americans and human beings to come together to not only mourn the loss of George Floyd but to band together against injustice. We must have hope that together, a better world, a more loving and caring world, is possible. Only then can we enact real, positive change.

Seraiah Brooks, North Branch, Minn.

• • •

It’s encouraging to see the rapid response by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the decision of his police chief to terminate all four police officers involved in Monday’s outrageous death of a yet another black man, whose apparent crime was allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Minneapolis, take note, your city is being watched across the state and across the nation.

The question before you now is whether the Minneapolis police union will continue its usual pattern of defending all the usual suspects, or whether the four officers will get their jobs back, after it’s concluded once again the terminations were unwarranted. If not for this, under what conditions, and when, is immediate termination warranted?

Do black lives matter in Minneapolis? That question will be answered by what happens next.

David Peterson, Duluth, Minn.

• • •

A person can hold the opinions of: “Floyd was wrongly murdered by police” and “I don’t hate all police.”

The ideas aren’t mutually exclusive. One can stand in solidarity with Floyd and his community while still supporting local law enforcement. The All Lives Matter camp also could just not throw out sarcastic hashtags and callous Facebook posts every time a minority community wants to remind the world that they exist.

On the flip side, the screw-all-cops crowd would do well to tone it down. While I fully understand that law-enforcement officers occupy a unique rung of the societal ladder, nobody’s running around screaming “screw all doctors and paramedics” because medical malpractice kills people to the tune of 250,000 in the U.S. every year. Absolutism is a toxic mental state, one that continually contributes to the sociopolitical divide in our country.

It’s a good practice to adapt your opinions or worldview when new information is presented. It is a mature and intelligent behavior which should be encouraged. It seems that so many people are afraid of change or vehemently against it.

I’m not here to tell anyone what to think. I’ve seen some messed up things in my time, as have most of us. Add to that the chaotic uncertainty we all live in due to the pandemic, and it’s understandable that tensions are high. That said, something needs to change before we tear this country and each other apart.

Perhaps that change should start with love and solidarity.

Remember George Floyd.

Luke Lidstad, St. Paul

• • •

Most of us have seen the police encounter with Mr. Floyd and his subsequent death and are horrified, but that does not excuse theft, arson and property damage to businesses whose owners had no part in it except to be located in that area (“Frey urges calm; Minneapolis assesses a night of damage,” StarTribune.com, May 28). I would hope that videos or pictures of the criminal acts exist and that the perpetrators will be prosecuted. During this shutdown, small businesses have enough trouble keeping their noses above water and don’t need this aberrant behavior further destroying their businesses. It’s more loss of jobs and income at a time no one needs it.

Protests are to make a point, not for behavior that aids in masking your point. Separate protesting from outright criminal activity, please.

Linda Urbanski, Brooklyn Park

• • •

The recent riotous behavior in Minneapolis is not symptomatic of the problems within the Minneapolis Police Department; it is an offshoot. There is a separate criminal element that uses a tragic circumstance to engage in lawlessness. Looting, arson and damage to property are counterproductive to the issue and overshadow the necessity to get to the root cause. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Frey own this and must be held accountable.

We have heard of changes to recruit training, psychological exams, field training and citizen advisory committees. Changes begin at the top, and it appears that is not happening in any meaningful way. Further, Frey’s visible anger and outrageous statements asking why the officers involved aren’t in jail inflame matters further. Evidently, he cannot control his activist background. This is problematic and it is not leadership. As a result, one tragedy produces others and the key issue is lost.

The investigation must proceed in a judicious manner. But the chief and mayor must step up their game as leaders or nothing meaningful and long-lasting will get accomplished.

Joe Polunc, Cologne, Minn.

• • •

Among the long-postponed conversations we need to have about a number of challenges in our community and country, we need to begin rethinking what the police force is.

Our police are not the equivalent of guards. They should rather be regarded as community peacekeepers on the order of board-certified professionals.

I believe we desperately need a statewide — even nationwide — education and accreditation process for this critically important healing profession.

Or what should be a healing profession.

I would assume the accreditation of doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners isn’t perfect. But at least accepted practices and standards are established by which performance can be measured. Malpractice can be determined. And exemplary practice is honored both within the community and beyond.

And as we expect intensive postgraduate standardized education, training and apprenticeship for medical professionals — doctors for our bodies — it only seems right that we have similarly rigorous training for who should be doctors for our communities.

During an intensive residency program for such community healers, aptitude and attitude and resilience can be assessed.

Of course, salaries need to be commensurate with the expertise and education expected. If, as a society, we can afford to pay doctors and medical specialists what they are paid, then we can find that same level of financial commitment for the physicians of our neighborhoods, towns and cities.

The Rev. Paul Jarvis, Minneapolis

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