Brianna McGinty's Nov. 15 commentary "After these cuts, who will be left to protect the city?" was very moving and concerning. There is a serious problem within a portion of the Minneapolis Police Department; when someone has a cancer, we don't kill them — we excise as much of the cancer as possible and treat the remainder with a variety of methods. The department has many, many good people; unfortunately, these are the officers most likely to want to leave because of fear of what's to come in the face of large funding cuts or possible "defunding" entirely. That will leave a department with a greater percentage of "bad eggs" and an even bigger problem with recruiting the kind of people who we want in our police departments. (Standards for new officers have declined in recent years.) We need to focus our efforts on making policing a true "profession" that attracts and retains the best possible individuals who will not contribute to a climate of systemic racism going forward.
Lisa B. Wilde, Minneapolis
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McGinty's article completely misses the point on why people like me are upset with policing in Minneapolis. We know there are good cops who personally commit generous acts outside of their official duty. But what are these good cops doing to improve the policing system? Do they support changing the union contract in a way that will benefit the community? Or do they support the current deplorable union leadership? What do they propose to stop bleeding the city's residents to pay millions upon millions for the actions of their colleagues? Until the "good" police demonstrate that they want to be part of the solution rather than perpetuating the current problems, they will have trouble regaining community trust.
Serafina Scheel, Minneapolis
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We deserve to live in a city where those who serve us ensure we all feel safe. The Minneapolis Police Department has time and time again failed to protect Black people and to treat us with dignity and respect. I as a Black woman have been harassed by the Minneapolis Police Department. One time an officer profiled me, mistaking me for a guy who had committed a robbery. He asked for my identification and I said I was going to get my wallet from my pocket. I was worried he was going to shoot me, because he had his hand on his gun and was calling for backup.
In my experience, officers tend to escalate situations. The money we are spending on the Police Department would be better spent on social workers and mental health workers who are actually trained to de-escalate violence. This would help create real community safety in Minneapolis and prevent situations like the ones I and other residents have gone through. I urge our Minneapolis officials to think about this when deciding the city budget for 2021.
Lee Williams, Minneapolis
'Child soldiers' in an urban war: Fundamental questions unasked
Regarding "In urban war, 'child soldiers' die" (front page, Nov. 15), the following citation from a community organizer left me confused and with many questions: "kids he meets hanging out outside into the late night hours, who tell him they have nowhere to go."
The article goes on blaming mental trauma, systemic racism, poverty, etc. But nary a mention of why these children are roaming the streets late at night. Shouldn't they be at home? Where's family? Their parents/caregivers? Have they done their homework? Why roaming late hours? Shouldn't they be in bed? Fundamental, obvious questions. Why not asked?
Elizabeth Corcoran, Woodbury
Just maybe there were reasons, other than tribalism, for change?
As a woman who spent the first 22 years of her life in Otter Tail County and who recently returned to live in the county four years ago, I am in a good position to answer Lori Sturdevant's Nov. 15 question, "What other than unquestioning loyalty to one's presidential tribe explains the willingness of so many voters in the ag-dominated Seventh Congressional District to dump U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, the powerful chair of the House Agriculture Committee, and send in his stead a comparatively cloutless House minority freshman, Republican Michelle Fischbach?"
Many of us grew tired of Peterson lording himself and his position on the Ag Committee over us, claiming he was irreplaceable. No one is, and the Seventh District is not only home to many hardworking farmers, but also young families. They value a strong economy, good schools, available health care and other overall quality-of-life issues. These are also important issues to the retirees in this area.
I wonder if perhaps after 30 years, voters thought that new energy and a woman who raised her children in this area might know a bit about these issues.
It frosts me that the initial reason Ms. Sturdevant concludes involves the tired media assumption that voters must simply be unthinking tribal thinkers. And why wouldn't she cheer on a woman going to Washington from this district for the first time since 1959? Perhaps it is Sturdevant who is blindly tribal in her thinking.
Laura Merickel, Ottertail, Minn.
'How many natural-born citizens would pass this?'
Regarding the Nov. 15 article "Is new citizenship test too long and too difficult?":
As a tutor volunteer to English Second Language adults for 20 years through the Minnesota Literacy Council, I perused the citizenship test some students chose to take, passing at 60%. There were many questions I did not know, and I had to guess. Yes, I asked myself: "How many natural-born citizens in the U.S. would pass this?" Maybe we should find out before we make it even more difficult.
Would it be fair to test ninth-grade students to see how they scored before the test is made even more difficult?
Let's be fair!
Elaine M. Zimmer, Brooklyn Park
THE BIDEN TRANSITION
Keep some of Trump's people on for unity, WSJ says. I say don't.
In the Nov. 15 paper I read an editorial reprinted from the Wall Street Journal advising President-Elect Joe Biden to, among other things, retain some members of the Trump administration for the sake of "healing" the nation.
In the same section, I read about Trump's personnel director, a 30-year-old loyalist who has been busy administering purity tests to ascertain which federal employees are sufficiently devoted to Trump and thus safe from the purge. You get all your information from Fox News and Trump's tweets? You can stay. A staffer from the Environmental Protection Agency was asked about support for Trump's Afghanistan policy, because fealty to the dear leader on all issues apparently matters more than having the expertise to do the actual job.
Just days ago, a career climate scientist was fired and replaced by someone who claims that climate change — you know, that thing that's been causing increasingly frequent hundred-year floods, tornado outbreaks, deadly wildfires and record-high temperatures — is harmless.
Clean house, Joe. Keep the career scientists and experts who somehow manage to escape the Trump purge, but for the sake of the country (and the planet): grab a broom and sweep away every last one of the Trump-installed hacks and loyalists.
Anne Hamre, Roseville