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In a follow-up to “Minnesota needs a mask mandate” (editorial, July 9) I would say this: We have arrived at a stage in the pandemic when everyone already knows what to do. Masks, hand-washing/sanitizing and social distancing are the most effective ways to limit spread. Europe, Asia and New York have proven this after hard and costly trial. If we want the economy back on track, if we want our kids safely back in school, then everyone needs to follow these guidelines.

Unfortunately, too few people take it seriously. I just traveled through Florida, Georgia and Missouri — current hotbeds of COVID-19. Astoundingly, very few are wearing masks. As a proud Minnesotan I want to believe we are better, but the truth is that most places I go, masks and social distancing are hit-or-miss. Yes, a mandate would probably be helpful, but it would be difficult to enforce. The truth is, if we’re not prepared to do the absolute simplest of things — wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing — I expect a mandate will have little effect.

Our leadership may be failing us, but — far worse — we are failing ourselves.

Scott Kellar, Eagan

HOMELESS CAMPS

The cure is simple: Housing

In the past month, several of my patients were forced to move from the Hiawatha encampment to the Sheraton Sanctuary to Powderhorn Park. Many in our community are uncertain where they will sleep tonight let alone settle long term. As a physician, volunteer at Simpson Housing and south Minneapolis community member, I have seen firsthand the impact of housing on health, safety and well-being.

On any given night, Minnesota has thousands of people experiencing homelessness. According to the Minnesota Homeless Study by the Wilder Foundation, homelessness increased by 10% between 2015 and 2018. Given the COVID-19 pandemic and current economic challenges, this trend will likely continue if we do not act now. Housing is health, and as a health worker, I believe that it is not possible to improve the health of our most vulnerable and protect them from COVID without safe and stable housing. Currently, we lack the capacity to meet the shelter and housing needs of individuals and families across our state.

We need state support to save lives and end homelessness in Minnesota. Our community urgently needs temporary housing for individuals and families until they can move into permanent housing. We call on Gov. Tim Walz and the Legislature to approve $25 million in bonding for shelter. Now is the time to invest in shelters, affordable housing and our community.

Jessica Hane, Minneapolis

• • •

The Trust for Public Land awards Minneapolis top in the nation for access to public parks! (“Is it true that Minneapolis boasts a park every six blocks?” July 5.) Was this achievement before or after the City Council allowed encampments at Powderhorn Park and elsewhere? I agree with the commentary from Joseph Tamburino on July 1, that allowing encampments at city parks is a terrible policy.

My husband and I moved from Plymouth to Minneapolis in 2019 to take advantage of the green spaces and additional amenities the city provides. That move came with an increase in our property taxes of almost 40%, and the city property we consume is less than half that it was in the suburbs! Yet, I could live in a Minneapolis city park rent- and property-tax free? Pandemic or no pandemic, overnight campers should be forbidden to live in a park reserved for day-use only!

David Spotts, Minneapolis

STATUES

A famous mob did get ‘rewarded’

A reader’s letter from July 8, “Don’t reward mobs like this,” criticizes the removal of statues and monuments of racists and scoundrels. The writer finishes with, “Mob violence should never be rewarded with success, as it is antithetical to our concept of democracy.” Is she not familiar with the Boston Tea Party? This “mob violence” was a significant event in the creation of the democracy called the United States.

Gary Thomsen, Eden Prairie

• • •

I take issue with John P. Gwinn’s opinion that we should erect a statue of Constantino Giacomo Beltrami despite it being a well-intentioned and lighthearted suggestion, if not partly in jest (“An Italian explorer Minnesota could love,” July 9). Beltrami was an eccentric explorer who attempted to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The logic is that if one Italian’s statue is removed (Christopher Columbus), why not honor another Italian with a new statue? This entire reasoning is based on the false premise that Europeans and their descendants are the only people who merit distinction in our state’s history.

What is ironic is that the writer makes note of Native Americans in his historical abstract. After all, we Natives are the ones who have taken issue with the glorification of Columbus in the first place. Furthermore, the writer is a Minneapolis resident. He must be oblivious or apathetic to the fact that Minneapolis is home to one of the largest populations of urban Native Americans in the nation. Wouldn’t a statue of a Native American be far more representative of our community? Perhaps a statue of Dennis Banks would be an appropriate way to both honor Indigenous people and inform people like the writer about the roots of the American Indian Movement in Minneapolis. If the writer is not fond of this idea, perhaps he would be receptive to memorializing Ozaawindib (Yellow Head) who led the expedition that identified Lake Itasca as the source of the Mississippi (for which Henry Schoolcraft received credit).

Gary Lussier Jr., Minneapolis

POLICE REFORM

This is not just a Twin Cities issue

There’s been a suggestion that the issue of police insensitivity and discrimination is a city or metro issue. I don’t think that’s true. The frequency or intensity of confrontation we face in different parts of the state may vary, but the response from law enforcement officers and public officials should be consistent and without prejudice or undue use of force. Residents of any community can respect law enforcement if they’re confident of being treated without discrimination and within the rules of accountability, citizen review and respect.

The Police Accountability Act being discussed in the Legislature deserves to become law now. Its provisions will not affect the habits of responsible police officers nor reduce the safety of any community. Neither should it compromise the safety of police officers. It represents a partnership between law enforcement, the criminal justice system and our citizens — in cities, suburbs like ours and across the state.

Steve Sandell, Woodbury

The writer is a DFLer in the Minnesota House.

• • •

A poll that Monmouth University published on Wednesday showed that 77% of Americans understand that “defund the police” means to “change the way police operate.” Only 18% of Americans surveyed consider “defunding police” synonymous with abolishing police.

I am disappointed that in the past month, the editorial and opinion section of this newspaper has served as a platform for individuals that have blurred the line between these two distinct concepts. These individuals have also defended the Minneapolis police union, which is indefensible.

I trust the Minneapolis City Council, whose members should be considered experts on the issue at hand, given the work they have done and the proposal that they have voted unanimously to advance. This is surely not to say that the Minneapolis City Council cannot be debated in this conversation. Conflating “defunding” with “disbanding” police, however, represents a bad-faith attempt to poison the well.

Most of all, I express my trust in the Minneapolis City Council because it listens to its constituents. The results of Wednesday’s Monmouth poll support this conclusion.

Charlie Nejedly, Minneapolis

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