Jacob Frey ran for mayor with a promise "to regain our citywide swagger." Aside from its sexist premise (the mayor at the time was a woman averse to showboating), the promise looks ever more grotesque in retrospect. Under Frey's leadership Minneapolis became known throughout the world as the place where racist cops apparently thought themselves free to murder and brutalize in broad daylight with impunity. Swagger, indeed.
Now we know from recently released bodycam footage that in the days following George Floyd's murder, police officers continued to view our residents as enemies to be indiscriminately hunted rather than people to be served ("Frey says bodycam footage 'galling,'" front page, Oct. 8). Meanwhile, Mayor Frey talks abstractly about "justice" and "reform" while showing zero backbone in standing up to the Police Federation, which our cops seem to take as their real boss.
A few days ago I attended a neighborhood meeting at which virtually everyone present had a story of the Minneapolis Police Department failing to take any effective action when help was needed following a theft or assault. If Minneapolis is to have any chance of redeeming itself in the eyes of the world, Frey must go, and we must create a new Department of Public Safety that actually serves the people rather than treating them as enemies to be subdued.
Jason McGrath, Minneapolis
Harder than you think
The article on police-free emergency responses ("Police-free response created conflict," Oct. 8) reveals the difficulties in improving the function of bureaucracies. Over many months, there appear to have been genuine concerns, genuine misunderstandings, genuine inertia and some protecting their "silo."
This tale should be cautionary regarding the upcoming vote whether to adopt Minneapolis City Question 2 and the revision of methods for public safety. It seems simply irrational to go off into the unknown with blank-check permissions to the mayor and City Council, in unspecified roles, for deciding how to provide public safety and whether to have a Police Department "if needed."
If rather narrowly defined changes are as hard as they appear to have been in developing police-free emergency responses, imagine the duration of the chaos when all of public safety is tossed into a cocked hat.
John R. Priest, Minneapolis
Any discussion about concerns over crime or police force attrition that does not include the name "George Floyd" is missing the boat. The death of Mr. Floyd, who was unfortunately only the latest in a long line of Black victims suffering atrocities at the hands of law enforcement, caused an uprising in this city that continues to burn through our hearts because it is unresolved. Nor will it be resolved even if all of the individual officers present at his murder are properly sentenced.
The "few bad apples" defense doesn't hold water. Anyone doubting the institutional nature of racism in the Minneapolis Police Department needs to come to terms with the new reports of officers laughing and fist-bumping as they fired "marking rounds" at protesters, congratulating each other for "hunting people" and saying things like, "This group probably is predominantly white because there's not looting and fires."
The doubters also need to explain why a Black man who returned fire at people shooting at him from an unmarked van was beaten bloody after he realized they were officers and laid down his weapon.
The public safety reform proposal on the city ballot isn't perfect, but it's the first step toward the possibility of real change. Anyone who opposes it is morally obliged to acknowledge the true source of the problem and to propose an alternative that hasn't already failed when it was tried before.
For those of us not at risk of violence from police simply because of our skin color, what right do we have to expect more protection than those of us who are not so fortunate? No justice, no peace.
Jeff Naylor, Minneapolis
'STRONG MAYOR' QUESTION
Racism exactly what ails it
Thank you to Lynnell Mickelsen ("'Strong mayor' plan mainly strengthens white elite," Opinion Exchange, Oct. 7) for one of the best commentaries I've read in the Star Tribune. Her commentary precisely reveals the source of the racism among us white people who would never imagine we are racist.
In effect, Mickelsen describes white privilege, which in this case applies to the "mostly middle-class-to-affluent, somewhat older white voters" who support a strong mayor over a strong council.
Those of us with fragile white consciences everywhere need to recognize racism for what it is, and see ourselves when we 1) attend local meetings to fight like heck for zoning laws and restrictions on the construction of low-cost multifamily dwellings in our neighborhoods, 2) attend school board meetings to ensure that desegregation doesn't end up placing "unruly" minority kids in our own children's classrooms (or, failing that, fight for vouchers to support private schools with no affirmative-action requirements), 3) fear Black Lives Matter (just why and what are we afraid of?), and 4) oppose defunding the police (who we need to protect our white homes, property and lives from those Black Lives Matter folks and those who would live in those low-cost multifamily dwellings).
Jackie Brux, River Falls, Wis.
HINDU HERITAGE MONTH
Highlighting a vibrant culture
People of diverse cultures and heritage make Minnesota stronger and better. As a practicing Hindu, I am pleased that Gov. Tim Walz has proclaimed October as Hindu Heritage Month (HHM). It recognizes the contributions by thousands of Hindus economically, socially and culturally to vibrant Minnesota.
Hindus trace their rich heritage to ancient Bharat (now India) with deep-seated belief in Sanatan Dharma, a religion, philosophy and a way of life. We believe in love, compassion and gratitude for all, the Karma and teachings like "Vasudev Kutumbakam" ("The world is one family"). Our mantra "Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah" ("May all be happy") embodies what is needed most in an environment of gun violence, social unrest and global terrorism.
HHM in October is very fitting because many Hindu festivals fall in this month. For example, during nine days of Navratri we invoke nine incarnations of Goddess Durga (symbolizing women power). Another is Vijay Dashami, meaning the victory of good over evil. The third iconic festival Deepawali, the festival of lights, will be celebrated by Hindu Mandir this month. The HHM will engage, inspire and infuse Hinduism tenets and raise awareness among Hindu youth and Minnesotans at large.
Like most cultures, food and fun are part of Hindu heritage. India's regional diversity like Durga Puja from the east, the folk-dance, Garba, from the west, and classical dances, Bharatanatyam and Kathak, from the south and north, respectively, will be part of local Hindu festivals.
The ancient Indic civilization symbolizes endurance, which Hindus have sustained and survived for thousands of years. The yoga, meditation and spirituality, nurturing the mind, body and soul, are the legacies of Hinduism to the world. I hope and believe that HHM will endure in perpetuity and continue to enrich Minnesota.
Vijendra Agarwal, Inver Grove Heights
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