I’ve read and reread the March 12 commentary “To whom it should concern,” about the shootings going on in north Minneapolis. I have been through the article three times, actually, thinking that perhaps I missed something. But I didn’t; what I was hoping would be there wasn’t.
The chronology of shootings and murders reported by the writer, Mickey Cook, was disheartening, to say the least, and tragic for sure. And at the end, she states: “So these broken-record responses aren’t getting the job done. We need more than coddling and political correctness from our local government. We need consistent and firm resolve. People are dying, our neighborhood is still in dire need of help, and your feigned concern is simply not enough.”
Here’s where I was expecting her definition of “dire need of help.” What did she think should be done? What would she lay out that would constitute “more than coddling and political correctness”? But, nothing. No definition of the problem, no underlying considerations, no thoughts on changing this or that, no “here are some steps to take.”
Nothing. It seems like this would have been the perfect time to advocate for help, from the writer’s perspective. And a writer with credibility — someone who lives in the neighborhood, who has been a homeowner for nearly 10 years, is a community activist in north Minneapolis, and has a front-page Opinion Exchange forum. A missed opportunity for sure.
C.T. Killian, St. Paul
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I had these takeaways from Cook’s interesting commentary:
There were 17 shooting incidents referenced in the contribution. (1) I did not see in any of them any involvement of police shooting blacks. (2) The incidents seemed to be based upon gang-related conflicts. (3) Many of the people were unintended victims caught in crossfire. (4) Most of the victims of the crossfires were women or children. (5) I only read of one husband/father involved, and, again, it was a gang-initiated shooting. (6) Most important, to me at least, the writer appealed to the members of the Fourth Precinct community to own up to those who were involved.
My questions from this are: (1) Why were the parents involved in all but one of these shootings women/mothers/a grandmother? (2) Why were the survivors listed just children, not husbands/fathers? (3) What are the reasons community members do not engage the police in these shootings? Is it because of fear and distrust of the police? Is it because of fear of reprisals from the perpetrators? (4) Are these gangs white extremists from other parts of the city intent on exterminating blacks? (5) Since the responses from outside the community have not been satisfactory to the writer, what exactly is he/she asking for? It appears that someone is desiring to talk about the elephant in the room. It is interesting that most of these incidents occurred during the administration of a Democratic, minority president, a Democratic governor and a Democratic-majority state Legislature. Perhaps politics and social legislation do not provide the answers to the issues.
John George, Northfield
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“When are the rest of you going to stop averting your gaze and do something to help us out?” the display text atop Cook’s commentary reads. I have a question in response: How do you expect an old, fat, white-haired white guy living in small-town Minnesota to stop gunfire in north Minneapolis? I am concerned about it. I am concerned about 750 murders in Chicago each year, but you will have to excuse me if it is not immediately obvious to me what or where I can help.
One of the things I see as beneficial is called profiling, but in the high-crime areas, profiling is a four-letter word. But I am here to tell you that when old, fat, white-haired white guys are killing each other by the hundreds in my community, they damn well better check me out periodically, or I will be electing new folk in charge.
A second thing I think might help is for large groups of citizens to march in the streets, à la Black Lives Matter. Only do it in the streets where the gunfire is, not out on someone else’s freeway or parking lot. Freedom is not free. If it is required in my community, I will be there, but you have to do it in your own community.
Dale Vander Linden, Delano, Minn.
MINNEAPOLIS MAYOR’S RACE
Two more criticisms, one defense of Tevlin column
Shame on Jon Tevlin for his incredibly lazy and offensive criticism of Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ vernacular in his March 12 column “Mayoral hopefuls lob mostly softballs.” He manages to offend women, people who have dealt with substance abuse issues and people who attend therapy, all in one sentence.
No matter what we do, women never receive a break from the tone police. If Hodges jumped up on bartops like City Council Member Jacob Frey, she’d be labeled crazy. If she yelled during debates, she’d swiftly be called too aggressive.
No one dedicates a career to municipal public service if they don’t really want to be there. Tevlin’s claim that he isn’t sure whether Hodges “likes the job” completely undermines her years of hard work for the city of Minneapolis (and is, simply, obnoxious).
Secondly, shame on the Star Tribune for printing this sexist nonsense. Hire a real political journalist who can report on issues of actual concern to voters instead of a tone-deaf curmudgeon who is hellbent on finding something to criticize about the mayor.
Agree or disagree with Hodges on the issues as you please — don’t make baseless, sexist personal attacks. And don’t print them.
Christine Lee, Minneapolis
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For Tevlin to call the candidates’ policy proposals and individual stands on the issues facing Minneapolis a collection of “doohickeys” is reductionist and insulting.
Hodges is right when she claims that cities are going to be at the front line in the battle against the Trump administration’s most egregious policies, especially the treatment of our immigrant community and the stewardship of our environment in the age of global climate change. Indeed, the GOP-controlled Minnesota Legislature is right now trying to pass new laws that would take power away from cities and weaken self-governance at the local level.
This may be the most important mayoral election in a generation. There are serious issues at play and real differences between the candidates, and I hope the Star Tribune will provide readers with more serious analysis throughout the coming months.
Camille Gage, Minneapolis
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Tevlin was not “admonishing” Mayor Hodges for her sobriety, as the mayor stated in a March 12 Facebook post and as another reader conveyed in a March 14 letter to the editor. If Tevlin were seeking to admonish candidates open about their sobriety, there was more than one candidate who publicly share their sobriety (like the mayor does) on stage the evening of the mayoral forum.
Many have noted that Hodges sometimes expresses herself in a fey, often circular manner. I can see how equating it to rehab and therapy “vernacular” could offend some involved in self-improvement. However, it’s my experience that almost of all of us who have taken part in self-improvement activities are the first to see the humor in “self-help speak.” That is why “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy” and Al Franken aka “Stuart Smalley” skits are funny! Sen. Franken himself said that “going to Al-Anon meetings inspired Stuart.” Tevlin himself made a much clearer point of what I believe he was trying to convey in his May 22, 2016, column in which he used actual quotes from Hodges’ State of the City address and compared them with the “Jack Handy” skit on “Saturday Night Live.”
Tevlin demonstrates his abhorrence to all bias and his compassion in countless articles. Police brutality, racism, homelessness, celebration of female leadership (including Mayor Hodges), women of color and recovered addicts are frequent subjects.
Sheila Delaney, Minneapolis