Congratulations to the greater American Indian Community, the Dakota elders who led the protests, the executive director of the Walker Art Center, Olga Viso, and artist Sam Durant for working together to prevent an offensive sculpture, partly inspired by the gallows where 38 Dakota Indians were hanged in Mankato in 1862, from ever formally seeing the light of day in the new Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (“Walker bows to protests, will remove sculpture,” May 28).
We should lament the fact that the descendants of the atrocity were not consulted, but let’s also praise the leaders who resolved the issue so quickly and honorably. In this hostile atmosphere of democratic process, it’s inspiring to see the parties get together, treat each other with respect and resolve the issue peacefully. Let’s hope we see more of this.
Joe Selvaggio, Minneapolis
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Thank goodness Durant and the Walker listened to the Dakota people concerning the now obviously painful and wrongheaded sculpture that was to debut June 3 but now is being taken down. Isn’t it time we all started listening? The Minnesota state flag needs to be put under similar scrutiny, as it unapologetically depicts the ejection of the Dakota people from the state of Minnesota. New Orleans just took down Confederate monuments; it’s time Minnesota took down this symbol of stolen lands, genocide and continuing white supremacy.
Nance Kent, Minneapolis
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I believe the Walker made the wrong decision to take the “Scaffold” sculpture down. The presentation was not well thought out and should have input from the Dakota community, but the issue is about freedom of expression. Now anytime someone is “offended” by a work of art, the Walker will have to bow to these demands and not stand up for artistic expression or every citizen’s right to free speech. I am Jewish; I don’t like it when neo-Nazis have gatherings and say horrible things about my religion (and others), but I will always defend their right to do it.
Avi Rosenman, Minneapolis
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How can a “gallows-like” scaffold even be considered as art? And what was the management of the Walker thinking to allow its inclusion in the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis? Given this lack of judgment and misuse of funds, how can one support contributions to the center or financing of the National Endowment for the Arts?
Linc Duncanson, Dresser, Wis.
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I hold the highest regard for the feelings and point of view of the American Indian protest concerning “Scaffold” constructed in the new Sculpture Garden. I have passed the site in Mankato many times and remember the 1962 Centennial events of the “Sioux Uprising” in my hometown of New Ulm and my realization of how history has been twisted to serve those in the seat of power.
However, I think “Scaffold” may serve one of the purposes of art as a reminder of these kinds of injustices. The acts of capital punishment and riot-controlled murders can’t be forgotten by removing our visual memories of them. Art is more than just the celebration of beauty; it also must reveal.
I remember the emotions I felt on first viewing “Guernica,” which depicted the devastation of a Basque village by Nazi bombs. Blood is often used in antiwar protest art to heighten the viewers’ response that war is about bloodshed. Imagine if we didn’t have the song “Strange Fruit,” written by a white Jewish man who was haunted by a photo of young men who were lynched. We cannot condemn him because it wasn’t his story. We can teach each other because of his insight.
Susan Huhn-Bowles, Minneapolis
Roseville joins those essentially mocking sacrifices for freedom
A cool Memorial Day, punctuated with a sprinkle or two, was a pleasant respite from day-to-day activity. I reflected on the thousands who gave their lives so that we may live ours in freedom.
With that as prologue, it was discouraging to read that Roseville officials are considering becoming a “sanctuary suburb” (May 29). I believe sanctuary-city status mocks the sacrifices of those who died to uphold our rights.
Sanctuary cities flout our immigration laws and turn a blind eye to illegal — er, undocumented — immigrants. Among the illegals — um, undocumenteds — are some criminals who have taken advantage of the cities’ libertine folly and have killed innocent American citizens who died regardless of their costly freedom. (Maybe another day should memorialize them.)
In the meantime, Roseville officials are free to declare that theirs is a sanctuary city.
John P. Dunlap, Fridley
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My husband and I have lived in Roseville for nearly 40 years, and we couldn’t be more proud after reading the front-page article on its bid to be the state’s first “sanctuary suburb.” We love the approach of “let’s figure this out“ — yes, we can. Isn’t this the kind of inclusivity and leadership that is most needed in our country now? Onward. Thank you, Roseville!
Diane and Gregory Amer, Roseville
Officer’s attempt to enforce the law was clearly unacceptable
Good grief! A cop on Metro Transit asks a man who boards the train illegally for his ticket, which the man cannot provide. Then the officer asks him for the man’s name and is given a false one. Then the officer gets nasty and asks if the man is in the United States illegally (“Man questioned on LRT to be deported,” May 28).
This is truly a rogue officer, asking such a question. Since the officer “is no longer an employee” of the department, according to a statement by Metro Transit Chief John Harrington, it is clear that he broke a rule: saying the wrong thing to an illegal occupant on our soil.
Let’s hope none of the other cops think they can ask such offensive questions, especially of those who obstruct the legal process, giving police a false name and evading fares.
We should all be proud of our police leadership nipping such behavior in the bud.
William R. Lundquist, Bloomington
TRUMP’S FOREIGN TOUR
A new world order, with beacon of hope shining elsewhere
In the wake of President Trump’s recent visit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel concluded that “we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.” Meaning that the U.S. is no longer an ally in Europe’s quest for peace and security (and environmental sanity). For me, this comment brought home the overarching significance of the Trump administration: The roles of Europe and the U.S. have been inverted. Our national identity has been shaped by the idea that we are the beacon of reason and justice — the answer to Europe’s dark legacy of autocracy, tribalism and religious conflict. Sure, this was partly delusional (see slavery, Jim Crow, Native American history), but it held some deeper truth — at least in our aspirations, we were different.
But no more. The United States that Donald Trump and Steve Bannon envision is a dark, closed and frightening place. Germany — Germany! — once the heart of darkness, is now the shining city on the hill. In effect, Europe (at least the core led by Germany and France) is now the beacon of hope for us all. The old world has become the new one. It’s shocking, and unbearably sad, but I guess I should take comfort in knowing that, just as my ancestors maintained hope by looking across the Atlantic, I can do the same — looking in the opposite direction.
Stephen Bubul, Minneapolis