The degree of jubilation following the verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial ("In streets of Minneapolis, crowd erupts in elation," April 21) is directly proportional to the degree of cynicism and despair following past killings for which there was no accountability. We need to get to a place where a just result is not greeted with elation but is instead calmly accepted as the normal and unremarkable outcome of a system that is working as it should.
JIM KAUFMANN, Burnsville
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Before the verdict was even read, I was crying.
Crying with the thought of "not guilty," what that would mean to the Floyd family, me as a person of color, the city, the country as a whole.
I was also crying with the thought of a guilty verdict. Finally justice for a person of color killed unjustifiably. Then I remembered this act of justice is a grain of sand on the beach; the billion other grains of sand are injustices my people have had to endure for 400 years.
George said he could not breathe; neither can I with the weight of injustice still alive.
William Kay, Blaine
• • •
We take a deep breath with justice being served for George Floyd and his family. Yet we still wait on bated breath, for the weight of justice for Daunte Wright looms on our horizon.
On the anniversary of Prince's death, one can imagine he would have had a song for his hometown, just as he did for Baltimore one year before his death.
Prince's message still speaks to us in this struggle for justice in our streets.
Howard Dotson, Minneapolis
• • •
I am happy that Derek Chauvin was convicted because the evidence of wrongdoing was clear. I am happy that Floyd's family experienced whatever justice a conviction can provide. But for our society, it was a tainted victory.
When any politicians or citizens buy into the view that the legal system can only work if they get confrontational during the trial or threaten that the wrong verdict will trigger violence, then what kind of system is it? Do we need to be in the streets for every trial from now on? It's like a parent who keeps threatening their kid with harsh measures if they screw up; they will never get the satisfaction of knowing whether the kid can make good decisions without the threat.
History is full of kings and dictators, regimes and vigilantes who felt they had the right to put their thumbs on the scales of justice; none of them were societies where we would care to live. Any system that can guarantee you the outcome you want is powerful enough to deny you a fair trial as well. Cross the wrong person and the court does you in.
Don't get me wrong — getting confrontational in the political process may be necessary; lobbying for indictments may be, too. But while the verdict was right in this case, another line has been crossed against the rule of law by political opportunists, which makes our country continue to look ever more like a banana republic.
Andrew Kirsch, South St. Paul
• • •
It was the right verdict. Things need to change; this may be a start. However, I do not feel jubilant; it is a tragedy for everyone, Chauvin as well. He was not a good cop, and he abused his authority, but he is suffering, too, and I cannot take pleasure in that. He is the most despised human in America right now — he is — and will continue to pay a high price. "Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done," writes Bryan Stevenson in his book "Just Mercy." And we have all done things we aren't proud of.
This isn't in any way to diminish the horrific injustices suffered by Black Americans. And it's an unpopular opinion, I know.
Marilyn Ulrich, St. Paul
• • •
I witnessed the reading of the verdict convicting Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. I witnessed the profound relief of Floyd's friends and family and of people of color everywhere. And I imagined the devastation of countless families whose loved ones have also been murdered in a racist society, as well as the heartbreak of all those who love and care about Chauvin. I pondered the roles each played in this tragedy so beyond my understanding.
I want to discover my own place in this historic moment. Perhaps you want that as well. If we demonize Derek Chauvin, if we distance ourselves too far from him and his flawed humanity, we miss this moment to examine ourselves. We miss the truth of own complicity in perpetuating racist structures. We cannot squander the opportunity. Let's commit ourselves, finally, to the difficult work ahead.
Rita Koll, Alexandria
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In response to Tuesday's commentary by Justin Ellis, "Minnesota is armed and ready to defend its investment in whiteness" (April 20): I would contest the idea that boarding up businesses and protecting them from looters is "investment in whiteness." I am concerned that his spin on the facts is just encouragement for a "burn it all down" philosophy.
I would like to suggest an answer to the question "What exactly does the plywood protect?" I know residents, homeowners, Black and white, in some of these areas. They don't want their neighborhood businesses to be ransacked and looted. They rely on these businesses for everyday needs. They understand that a skeletonized, business-bankrupted neighborhood does not serve them and is devastating to their property values. (Yes, Black-owned homes, too.) This is not a Black vs. white issue. The hope is that the plywood is the temporary bandage for their multicultural neighborhood to heal, and maybe even prosper, as we get our systemic changes up and running through persistent, constructive action.
Karen Anderson, Excelsior
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Now let's see if the political system can do as well as the jurors did.
The verdict in the Chauvin trial does not by itself create a police department that gives the police chief adequate authority to discipline the — few — officers who use excessive force. Legislation will be needed. Perhaps Minneapolis' charter can be amended to provide, at last, effective political control of the department.
The widespread commitment to ending racism sets the goal. But there has to be a "how." Our elected officials will have to deliver. Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday committed to change in all Minnesota's systems, including, he said, public education. Perhaps the "how" can be provided by the initiative for a constitutional amendment launched by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and former state Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. But that will need a commitment by Walz and the Legislature to implement the goal of "quality education" set by the proposed amendment.
Goals alone do not produce change. Goals have to be implemented.
Ted Kolderie, St. Paul
• • •
An old Irish poet assures us that: "Once in a lifetime / The longed-for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme."
We know that we are living in that time when we hear a young Black woman declare: "The new dawn blooms as we free it / For there is always light, / if only we're brave enough to see it / If only we're brave enough to be it."
For as long as we have the words of poets such as Seamus Heaney and Amanda Gorman to express our shared humanity, we shall overcome the forces of intolerance.
Michael W. McNabb, Lakeville
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