I fell asleep last night to the sound of gunfire and explosions: Minneapolis police behaving like a military, using tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets to attack protesters — my neighbors — whose simple request was that the police stop killing people (“Thousands march in tide of anger, grief,” front page, May 27).
Officers, that street corner where you were playing with your war toys? That is where I live. That is where I walk with my child.
A few protesters turned it into a scuffle, but it was the Minneapolis police who turned my neighborhood into a war zone. And it is the police who make me feel unsafe where I live.
Officers might ask, “Were we supposed to just stand there?” The answer is yes, that is exactly what you were supposed to do. Stand tall, stand your ground and keep the situation from escalating. If officers in the Michigan Capitol can do that as protesters with assault weapons scream in their faces, you can do it, too. If you can’t, you have no business being a police officer. If you see smashed windows as an excuse to play soldier and unleash terror on anyone you see, resign from the force now before you, too, kill someone.
Watching the horrifying video of that officer killing George Floyd, many people wondered: Is this violence an aberration? The Minneapolis police answered loud and clear Tuesday night: No, this is who we are.
Paul Cantrell, Minneapolis
• • •
If you had removed the Minneapolis Police Department uniform from Derek Chauvin and kept all the other publicly known facts the same, he would have been arrested on the spot and would probably already be charged with second-degree murder (“ ‘Please, I can’t breathe,’ ” front page, May 27). Prosecutors would be lining up in the hallway to take his case to a grand jury and indict him. If you had removed his uniform and additionally made him a black man, there’s a good chance he’d have been shot dead — by the MPD.
Does this cop deserve the deference we normally give to police officers in use-of-force decisions? Perhaps more importantly, will the citizens of Minneapolis ever rise up and tell their elected leaders that they don’t want their black fellow citizens to be policed this way, and that they will end the careers of their elected leaders if they don’t get behind police reform? As a lifelong (71 years) white citizen of Minneapolis who spent 30 years as a public defender, I’m sick of this. Elected officials, get the Minneapolis Police Department under effective citizen control, or make way for people who will.
Richard G. Carlson, Minneapolis
• • •
George Floyd isn’t the only one who couldn’t breathe; racism, hatred and bigotry are suffocating this nation. We continue to be plagued by rush-to-judgment assumptions with deadly consequences. Mayor Jacob Frey’s and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s leadership and guidance are appreciated at a time when our country needs it most.
Wendy Khabie, St. Louis Park
• • •
The “brotherhood” mentality in these former police officers was clear: It is us against the threatening world. We stick together in silent allegiance to each other no matter what. This too often destructive sense of brotherhood needs to change in police, as it has had to for priests. The only true brotherhood is we the people, all the people, citizens and professionals in power together. Individual cops show this enlightened sense of brotherhood every day. But only by changing the socialization of new cops by older cops can the cultural baggage of a distorted and destructive, gang-like sense of brotherhood be ended. Only then can “to protect and serve” have real meaning in police culture and for the public, including the most vulnerable among us.
Daniel Gartrell, St. Paul
• • •
As bystanders watched in horror, three Minneapolis police officers stood by while a fourth officer choked a black man. It strikes me that none of these three officers recognized this as wrong and stopped it. I have to wonder what culture exists within our police force that the choking of a citizen who is begging for his life is not interrupted. What other misdeeds have these officers seen and learned to accept that causes such behavior? Indeed, what other misdeeds are perpetrated by our police across the city that are not recorded and that go unpunished? No wonder African-American men and boys fear for their lives. This is a terrible stain on our police force and a tragedy for our black brethren.
Chris Hartnett, Minneapolis
• • •
The concluding paragraph of the Star Tribune’s editorial (“Please, please ... I can’t breathe,” May 27) narrating the atrocious death of an unarmed African-American man in the hands of an inhumane white policeman should have included another crucial line: Too often the legal system lets the white policemen walk free without being held responsible for such callous brutalities.
Vincent Peters, New Brighton
• • •
I am finishing up a year teaching at the Mastery School, an institution in the Camden neighborhood of north Minneapolis that consists of a student body of almost 100% black students. They are proud of their heritage, and we instill that pride from kindergarten.
I taught sixth- and seventh-grade social studies this year. I asked my seventh-graders at the beginning of the year to write a short piece called “My America,” about what being an American or living in America means to them. Nearly 100% of my class wrote about their fear of police and police brutality. In seventh-grade words, they expressed unjust behaviors by authorities toward them. They are 12 and 13 years old. They do not need this weight on their shoulders right now. Their goals should be learning and being a kid. I sat down at my desk and sobbed thinking of what my students go through on a daily basis while they are simply walking, playing and talking while black.
My students are funny, smart, worldly, wise, creative, loving, caring, generous and independent young people.
As a white woman, I cannot fathom how my students truly feel at this time, but I can do my part as an adult authority figure to reach out to the people who make decisions for the children and their safety. Right now, they do not feel safe. As a young white child in St. Paul, I felt the police were there to protect me. My students have never felt that. This needs to change.
Olivia Rodriguez, Minneapolis
• • •
I feel awful saying this, but because I have become so accustomed to hearing news of the Gestapo-style policing of black people in America, I was not surprised by the news of the death of the unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, who pressed his knee on his neck and literally choked him to death with another three policeman standing around without intervening.
Makes an outsider wonder about American democracy.
Rajend Naidu, Sydney, Australia
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.