1. How is a small-business person supposed to feel about being looted by members of their own community, not being protected by the police, not being allowed to protect their own property, then being financially victimized, when they have to take out a loan to pay for something that wasn’t their fault? Will frequenting their businesses if they survive the financial consequences of the pandemic even scratch the surface of what needs to be done to restore their faith in humanity?
2. When looters were destroying the businesses large and small in south Minneapolis — destroying the hopes, dreams and life savings of businesses that are the economic lifeblood of the community, what should the police have done about it that would have met with the approval of the protesters?
3. If most cops are good cops, would dismantling or defunding the Minneapolis Police Department be an assault primarily on the bad cops, or on the good cops?
4. To what extent would dismantling or defunding the Minneapolis Police Department be a de facto but intentional victimization of the families of good police officers? What constructive value would there be in doing that?
5. In the sphere of public opinion of the voters across the state, will what happened in the Twin Cities during the protests increase or decrease the city-rural divide?
6. Did the protesters here and across the nation make a good impression on the National Guard and on the law enforcement officers who were called in to keep the peace? Does this matter? Yes, it does! The voting friends, neighbors and co-workers of the National Guard members and law-enforcement officers are going to want to know from the people they know — from the people who were actually there — what their impression was of the protesters and the way that they conducted themselves.
7. Did the echoing of protesters’ inflammatory language by government officials to describe the officers involved in the George Floyd incident increase or decrease the odds that those officers will be convicted during a fair trial, anywhere in Minnesota? If they are convicted by a tainted jury, will that conviction be justice or retribution? If they are acquitted on appeal because it can be shown that the jury was tainted by inflammatory language, who will take responsibility for tainting the jury pool?
8. Could it be that what we are seeing in the nationwide protests the long-awaited awkward emergence of the younger generation, stepping up to take control and responsibility for the future of our nation? Can that possibly happen without a grand-scale revolution in the way we now view our world?
9. There is a world of difference between “we the people” empowering politicians with our vote so that they can do great things for us, and politicians empowering “we the people” so that we can do great things for ourselves. Will the obviously well-intended effort of Gov. Tim Walz and other politicians to bring about community and police reforms through legislation and programs result in a different outcome than past initiatives that followed that same path? Or, should we be trying new solutions that were created by “we the people” — solutions the likes of which no one has ever seen or tried before? Which is most likely to succeed?
10. In a crisis, some people turn their negativity inward and suffer a lot rather than risk hurting others with their anger. Some people, in need of an emotional punching bag and someone to blame for the way that they feel, release the wrath of their negative energy anger on to other people and other entities. Some people, like Gov. Walz and the volunteers who showed up to clean up afterward, convert their negative energy into positive energy in an effort to solve problems. Which use of negative energy is most likely to create constructive solutions that will fix the problems in the Minneapolis Police Department and in the communities they serve? What can be done to pre-emptively convert future negative destructive energy into constructive energy, so as to prevent dysfunctional consequences like the looting of neighborhood businesses?
11. Which is greater prejudice?
a) Painting all blacks with the same paintbrush, and claiming that “the blacks” all do this, or that “the blacks” all think that?
b) Lumping all the protesters who defied the curfew together with the looters, and calling them the “black community”?
c) Lumping all individual police officers together and saying that the police think this or that the police do that?
• • •
I am a 70-year-old retired federal law enforcement officer who worked in a federal prison for 28 years. I was on the riot squad for 20 years. I was a Bureau of Prisons certified self-defense instructor who never taught a chokehold. I was a union official in various capacities for 25 years. I was in the Minnesota Air National Guard for six years.
Ah! That explains a lot, doesn’t it? I’m a right-winger, and an unconditional supporter of the Minneapolis Police Department, right?
I have the better part of a master’s degree in secondary education with a minor in psychology, and almost a minor in industrial arts. Married for 49 years to a schoolteacher. We have three grown adopted Korean children. I bought as a kit, built, then flew one of the first motorized hang gliders in the state of Minnesota back in 1980, back when these things were in their infancy. We have bicycled almost 125,000 miles.
Politically, on a left/right scale, I am a left-of-center moderate. On a vertical scale between progressive and regressive, I am an off-the-charts progressive. I am all about doing things that are experimental, in an effort to do things better than they have ever been done before.
Lumping people together and painting them with the same brush is prejudice personified. Prejudice is the gross failure of individuals to have the empathy and foresight to see, to value, and to tolerate the souls of others. People are prejudiced because being prejudiced is simple, convenient and easy, and because an emotionally satisfying “buzz” of passion binds them together with other like-minded people, in the belief that if they are all saying the same thing, that they all must then be “right.”
Footnote: My wife and I have participated in five protests in the past four years.
John A. Mattsen lives in New Brighton.