Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, is a shining example of exactly what is wrong with policing in 2020 (“Kroll, Minneapolis police union head, blasts city’s riot response in letter to officers,” StarTribune.com, June 1). In a letter to union membership shared by the media on Monday, he quickly and repeatedly attempted to remove any culpability from himself and his brethren and rather placed it at the feet of city politicians, Minneapolis citizens and even George Floyd — going so far as to say the four terminated officers lost their jobs without “due process.”
The “us vs. them” position presented by Kroll is supremely emblematic of the existing underlying issues with the city police, which culminated the past week in unprecedented civil unrest. It also demonstrates an unwillingness to engage in the type of community policing that will be needed in order to restore the city’s faith in the department.
While the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis is a private group and is free to elect its leaders as it likes, the collective bargaining agreement between the Police Officers Federation and the city of Minneapolis expired on Dec. 31, 2019.
I call upon the mayor and City Council to communicate to the Police Officers Federation that no future agreement shall be ratified until Kroll resigns from his leadership position within the union.
Archie Pickerign, St. Paul
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In many ways state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, a Republican, was right when he said that what we’re witnessing now is “a failure of leadership.” But it’s a leadership failure of historical proportions, not simply a recent failure. It’s a failure of leadership to provide equality in education, equality in opportunity, equality in wealth and income. It’s a failure of leadership to provide early child education, affordable child care and access to affordable health care. It’s incumbent upon Gazelka and his fellow legislators to step up and provide leadership that leads to greater equality, not partisan posturing and benefits simply to those who already occupy positions of privilege.
John E. Fredell, Minneapolis
POLICING BY CONSENT
Unworkable with so many guns
The letter in Monday’s paper, “Rethink our policing model,” made some “policing by consent” comparisons with other countries. The London example of many police officers without guns relying on the community’s trust for their authority sounds wonderful. There is one major difference between England and the United States. Our reality is a culture of guns and violence.
England has 4.6 guns per 100 residents. The U.S. has 120 guns per 100 residents. Similarly, the number of police officers killed in Britain, a country with about a fifth the population of the U.S., is less than three per year. We average about 150 per year.
Being a police officer is a dangerous and highly stressful job, and the vast majority deserve our respect and thanks. This does not excuse over-the-top violence by the officers who are paid to protect us. However, until we change our irrational infatuation with guns, I am afraid that policing by consent is a pie-in-the-sky concept.
Bruce Lemke, Orono
In those brooms, I saw hope
I was born in Minneapolis, Fairview Hospital, 1942. When I turned on my television Friday morning and saw the devastation to our community my first thought was, how could this happen in our beautiful city? The next thought: What could I, a 77-year-old, do to help clean up debris, make some effort to be useful? Imagine my shock when I saw young person after young person walking amid other peaceful demonstrators bringing brooms, garbage bags, shovels and purposefulness to the task at hand — the broom brigade. As I watched them tears came unexpectedly, uncontrolled.
Never before in all my years and experience have I seen anything like it. I took part in the 1960s marches when Plymouth Avenue was burned to the ground. We protested. We marched. We chanted, but we didn’t carry brooms and bags. Perhaps this generation, knowing change must finally occur to start meaningful steps forward, will be the agents for change — to begin to sweep away deeply held, entrenched and unnamed racial prejudices. Thank you, extraordinary, young Minnesotans. Thank you. Keep your brooms at the ready.
Sara Meyer, St. Mary’s Point
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Hearts are broken and grieving. Beloved restaurants, service providers and businesses are burning. And, there is beauty that seized my heart and squeezed my throat this weekend. We were with the thousands of people of all races and ages who took to the streets with brooms, shovels, gloves and masks to clean up. It was a huge group of people lasting all day. I’ve never experienced a cleaner Lake Street. The now-famous intersection at Cup Foods where George Floyd was killed is filled with a circle of flowers and positive messages. Burning sage rose above the acrid smell as Aztec dancers’ music and regalia brought healing to those quietly gathered there.
Thank you, fellow Twin Citians, for your humanity.
Linnea Swenson Tellekson, Minneapolis
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As if the fear and mourning were not enough this week, there have been media reports of insurance agents stating there is no coverage for damage caused by rioting, vandals and thugs (“Toll of our unrest,” May 31). Having spent 30 years in insurance claims, I am here to tell you that there absolutely is coverage for damage and business interruption caused by these events. Homeowners and automobile owners also have coverage. If you are given any problems from your agents, you need to immediately file a written complaint with the insurance commissioner’s office at the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Agents who falsely deny claims are subject to large fines and actions against their licenses.
Please don’t risk your life defending a piece of property; that is what you paid insurance to do.
Curt Rahman, St. Louis Park
I know the Floyd family’s pain. Seeking justice must come next.
I don’t have to imagine how the family of George Floyd feels. I know how it feels to have your unarmed loved one die in police custody. My heart breaks for the Floyd family, because they are entering a journey of pain that will remain with them forever. My son, Leslie Prater, was killed in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Jan. 2, 2004.
The cause of death, from actions of four police officers, was homicide by positional asphyxia. There were similarities between Mr. Floyd’s death and Leslie’s. One major difference is that no video captured Leslie’s killing. There were eyewitnesses, but cellphones were without video capability. Another difference between the two is that our mayor never spoke out publicly. Citizens of Minneapolis are so fortunate to have Mayor Jacob Frey. Not only did he speak out, but his response was immediate and courageous. When he announced that the four officers were fired, I was so proud of him.
Now, the next challenge is to seek justice. It is not over yet. Justice can only occur if all four officers are convicted and sentenced to prison terms. Like most families, we received no justice. The officers were “punished” with a week off with pay. As a former university administrator, with oversight of a criminal justice department and police academy, I have conducted sensitivity training for future officers. I believe employing the “right” people and training them sufficiently can contribute to the complex solution to address police brutality.
Loretta Prater, Cape Girardeau, Mo.
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