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I read with great interest the recent article on outgoing Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman ("Freeman on stepping down: 'It's time,'" Jan. 2). The article described a number of his accomplishments. Unfortunately, many of the progressive policies Freeman initiated never received the acknowledgment due him.

I have known Freeman for over 40 years, first as a state senator where he championed numerous bills to reform juvenile justice, civil commitment and even assistance to rural hospitals. As the former executive director of the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, I saw firsthand his state and national leadership to address crimes involving firearms, increased penalties for human trafficking, simplification of expungement for criminal convictions and reform of our antiquated criminal drug penalties, which regrettably impact too many people of color. He also made his staff available to assist small outstate county attorney offices and established a mentorship program for newly elected county attorneys. More recently, he supported the creation of a conviction review unit in the Office of Attorney General, which seeks to identify and remedy convictions of persons who are imprisoned for crimes of which they may be innocent. As the article points out, he promoted effective diversion programs, increased the number of people of color on his staff — many in management positions — and strengthened the victim advocate division in his office.

While it is always fair to disagree with our elected officials, Mike Freeman is to be commended for his years of public service to the people of Minnesota and citizens of Hennepin County.

John P. Kingrey, St. Paul


How was this possible?

As reported in the Star Tribune on Dec. 31, Ebony Miller of Minneapolis, 24 years old, was hit and killed by a drunken driver in Minneapolis on Nov. 18 ("Driver drunk, high and unlicensed when he killed woman"). This awful tragedy is made even more so by the following: The driver, a 25-year-old male, had been convicted five times in Minnesota for driving without a license, once for traveling 104 in a 30 mph zone and once each for auto theft and fleeing the police. He has been accused of speeding and drunken driving in St. Louis Park as well. His car was going 75 mph in a 30-mph zone when it hit Miller.

This story was on the B7 page of the Tribune. And therein is a second tragedy. Why, when such a dramatic example of judicial misconduct is evident and results in a young woman's death, does such a story end up being buried? If a Minneapolis police officer is accused of doing something wrong, it is usually widely publicized, with outrage expressed from all sides. The City Council, the governor, the attorney general, and many others will rapidly give their opinions about the need for justice and new approaches.

But when a man with such a heinous driving record drives recklessly again and kills a young woman, we hear crickets. There is not so much as a minor expression of anger or concern.

Many people were involved in making sure the man implicated was able to remain on the road, remain with access to a car, and remain in a position to kill Miller. Do they have no responsibility? Is there no possibility for a redress of any sort? Why is there silence?

Our judicial system reflects a cynical and indifferent world — a third and all-too-common tragedy for us all.

Paul H. Bearmon, Edina


Further context is appreciated

Many thanks to Curtis Dahlin for providing the historical context ("We should also remember other victims," Opinion Exchange, Dec. 30) that resulted in the hanging of 38 Dakota tribal members in December 1862. Also, a thank you is in order to the Star Tribune for publishing the piece. What is at issue here is the original article of Dec. 27 chronicling the commemorative ride to Mankato ("Riders share history's burden"). There is absolutely no mention as to why the trial was held for some 300 Dakota nor why 38 were hanged. This glaring omission confirms how stories are written to control the readers' emotions and views of a subject. The reader is left with the opinion that some Indigenous people received the death sentence for no reason other than, what, being nonwhite? The who, what and why are missing to put the story into proper context.

What would the response be if the relatives of the 650 slain white people conducted their own memorial event?

We can debate death sentences and race relations but a one-sided viewpoint fans the flames of racial division.

Gov. Tim Walz's predictable response smacks of politically expediency, which sullies his former profession.

This process of selective reporting takes place all too often. The majority of readers do not have the time to do their own investigative due diligence. But maybe there is something positive we can learn from the full history of this event that can result in a positive outcome. But to do so, we need all the facts.

Joe Polunc, Waconia


If you can't understand the Dakota issue since it happened so long ago, try this. Gas up your car, load up your guns and a case of whiskey and head up Interstate 94 to North Dakota. When you cross over the Red River into Fargo, find a nice-looking place and park. Get out and plant your Minnesota flag in the ground and declare to anyone who asks you what you are doing, "I've found a new land, and I'm claiming it for Minnesota."

They may tell you that it is their property that they have owned for almost 200 years. But like settlers moving into Minnesota in the 1830s, simply tell them you don't recognize that, but you would be willing to offer them $100 to $200 and some whiskey. Otherwise you have guns and will drive them off.

Our forefathers came to America in 1492, planted their flag and claimed the land despite encountering people who had been living here for thousands of years. They did basically the same as I suggested above. They took land and offered little, if anything, for the land they wanted. Resistance was faced with one-sided treaties or armed enforcement.

Our forefathers in Minnesota did the same. When alternative land was offered, it was almost always land no one thought had any value. If you still have difficulty understanding who was right or wrong for the Dakota massacre, how would you feel if someone stopped in front of your house, planted a flag in your front yard, declared they just discovered a new land and demanded you move someplace else?

As with most controversy, there is often no clear, easy or simple "yes" or "no" answer. However, when you try to see the situation in a way that is easier to understand, you might be able to see why those involved might have done what they did. Our history has several dark or damning moments. I hope we recognize our faults and learn from them so we never do those actions again.

Dale Trippler, Blaine


Kudos to Metro Transit drivers

I want to publicly thank the Minneapolis Metro Transit bus drivers for their professionalism, patience and kindness to riders as they continued to drive their buses through the recent snowstorms. You are appreciated!

Ann Lynch, Minneapolis