A big thanks to Robert Elliott and the Star Tribune for his reflection on the place of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the region, the history of the country and likely the world ("38th Street now spans the globe," Opinion Exchange, April 22). A monument to honor what we are learning from that murder and its monumentally significant, successful prosecution has global reach. Because of the videotaping of a courageous 17-year-old, the intersection has already become a world destination. It is, as many have said, a sacred place. The successful prosecution makes it also a civic place that might be considered holy.
Like the Lincoln Memorial, it already venerates a place of profound but unmeasurable human significance. Many other monuments come to mind not as tourist attractions but as similar focal points for profound reflection — the Statue of Liberty, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, the Lorraine Motel, Wounded Knee.
Mr. Elliott has given a lot of thought to its significance and laid out a robust start to the kind of discussion the shaping of such a monument would entail. Here's hoping the prominence the Star Tribune has given to Elliott's piece advances the discussion and necessary action.
James McKenzie, St. Paul
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State Sen. Paul Gazelka's comment that the guilty verdict of Derrick Chauvin for murdering George Floyd means the system worked is astounding.
The courts found Chauvin guilty only because a 17-year-old happened by and had the presence of mind to record the whole event. Without that video, worldwide protests and furious rioting wouldn't have ensued. Without that video, the prosecution would not have been taken over by the state and afforded the resources it had to make its highly effective prosecution.
The system didn't work for Jamar Clark and Philando Castile, and it didn't work for George Floyd and Daunte Wright, either: None of these Black men should have been killed by police in the first place.
There's a lot more that needs to be changed by the state for the system to work. Gazelka and his Senate Republicans can't rely on 17-year-olds with phone videos to ensure the system will work. They need to come to the table with the DFL and pass much-needed legislation to make the system work and to prevent police killings.
Paul Rozycki, Minneapolis
Rioting is already illegal, legislators
Even though Minnesota already has legal consequences for unlawful rioting, the Legislature is considering an anti-riot bill. What would this bill do that is not already in place? It would cut off student aid, eliminate unemployment benefits and prohibit housing aid for those convicted. Any wonder who will be most impacted by this bill if it passes?
Furthermore, do legislators seriously believe that this bill will do anything to prevent riots from taking place? People who are angry and triggered in a situation are not thinking about consequences (as in other crimes of passion), so this bill is unlikely to prevent the behavior.
Many of us carry fear from the fires and looting of last spring. Perhaps we shouldn't be trying to create consequences until we have managed the emotions from our own experiences. Time and energy would be better spent on proactive measures that ensure people feel heard. For those few protesters who crossed the line out of many peaceful protesters, justice might be better served for all parties by a restorative justice process that heals the damage on multiple levels.
Helen Henly, Minneapolis
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Years ago when police started using "nonlethal" weapons like tear gas, rubber bullets and stun guns, such devices were better than real bullets. Now, though, nonlethal weapons have become an easy way for police to avoid physical restraint. I was a hippie protester, and I far preferred officers who would stop me bodily to those who would shoot me with a tear-gas canister or rubber bullet. Nonlethal weapons can still cause permanent damage and death. Reserve them for dire times when a person's life is in danger.
Richard Jewell, Minneapolis
MINNEAPOLIS CITY COUNCIL
Looking everywhere but the mirror
I read with interest the Minneapolis City Council's response to the Department of Justice investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department. In character, the council members blamed everyone but themselves for the lack of change, citing the City Charter and state law as an excuse for their abject failure to do anything meaningful since George Floyd's murder. Did the dog eat their homework? They are very good at symbolic acts, such as announcing the huge civil settlement during jury selection in the Chauvin case, thereby threatening the integrity of the criminal case itself. How about a resolution condemning certain abhorrent police practices or demanding specific police accountability measures in the union contract? How about undertaking a thorough investigation of what other cities have done?
Even if the charter amendment passes and more changes are made in state law, the council frittered away at least a year. It's clear to me its members are more concerned about finding a way to get someone else to do the hard work than they are in making real change.
Hart Kuller, Minneapolis
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I have a message for the Minneapolis City Council. The Twin Cities is home to many police departments. Minneapolis has one, as does St. Paul, as do Bloomington, Edina, Plymouth, etc., etc., etc. You know what all police departments have in common (and city councils, for that matter)? They all want above-average police officers in their departments. Does the council really think that its political grandstanding is going to help Minneapolis attract and/or retain the above-average police officers it so needs? Just keep it up, and you will get what you deserve.
Jack Kohler, Plymouth
Kicking the State Patrol out of the break room isn't exactly justice
I wish that we would all understand that now is a time for healing, and that means kindly gestures, not spite, toward police forces. In an emergency action the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board decided to end the arrangement whereby State Patrol officers could use the facilities of the Park Board's headquarters "where troopers would take breaks and eat lunch" ("Mpls. Park Board expelling State Patrol from parks HQ," April 23). "Commissioner Londel French, who authored the resolution, advocated ending the Park Board's relationship with the State Patrol due to its role in suppressing protests and riots over police brutality." Mayor Jacob Frey vetoed the decision Friday.
Please! Our police must be accountable to the public. But we do not further this goal by silly and spiteful anti-cop actions.
David Sommer, Minneapolis
Learning from Minneapolis, it seems
The rendering of the Highland Bridge development in Friday's paper was stunning ("Names of Highland Bridge parks reference Mother Earth, coyotes"). This is what I had envisioned for the Nicollet Mall (minus the water, of course), not a brutalist concrete canyon but a meandering necklace of gardens and lawns and plazas. Minneapolis really missed the boat.
Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park
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