The Minneapolis Charter Commission has a duty to accept the legally sound charter amendment proposed by the City Council to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a Community Safety and Violence Prevention Department. I know some of us feel like we don’t have the perfect answers yet for what comes in place of MPD, because we’re new to thinking about this — but creating less violent structures for community safety isn’t new at all. Black folks and Indigenous folks here in Minneapolis, and folks around the world, have been studying, designing, and implementing alternatives for decades.
The young Black community leaders of Minneapolis are telling us they can guide a process for community members and for the City Council over the next year to create something better than the MPD. The proposed amendment itself reads to me like a question about trust. It is time to trust the expertise of the leaders from Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block who have organized for this charter amendment, who planted the seeds for new models of community safety long before the death of George Floyd.
We will never get this moment in history back. Accept the amendment so Minneapolis can boldly answer “YES” to trusting the young Black leaders of our city in November. The Charter Commission should not abuse its power to delay this first step toward functional public safety. Let us vote.
Akilah Sanders-Reed, Minneapolis
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On July 15, I — a brown immigrant woman — had one of the most transformative and empowering experiences of my life: I provided my first public comment demanding that the Charter Commission move the Community Safety Amendment to our November ballots.
Supporting a process where the residents of Minneapolis can vote for a community safety department that prioritizes safety for all is 1) the first step in repairing the trust that many of us have lost in both the nonelected commissioners as well as our elected officials and 2) the only acceptable option to end a system that punishes, criminalizes, incarcerates and kills the most vulnerable members of our communities — including Black residents, unsheltered folks, trans and queer people, sex workers, constituents grappling with poverty, and folks struggling with addictions and lack of mental health support.
In my 20 years as a resident of Minneapolis, I have never had a positive nor helpful interaction with the MPD; however, it has always been my neighbors and community-focused programs, departments and organizations such as C.O.P.E, the Hennepin County Housing Court Project, St. Stephen’s Human Services, and the Small Business Department that have supported me as an immigrant, as a working mother, as an educator, as a businesswoman and as a resident of Minneapolis.
We deserve to use our voice and vote to remove a department that contributes violence in our communities in November and to support a transition to community-led safety.
Dulce Oliva Monterrubio, Minneapolis
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We understand the reason the City Council has threatened to defund the Minneapolis Police Department. However, the city is now in a crisis with a depleted Police Department. As a result, crime is up and many residents are lacking protection. Defunding the Police Department alone will not solve this situation. We believe it is crucial for the City Council to stop and to listen to the many communities of Minneapolis before asking for an amendment to the City Charter. The council and mayor should take time to develop a comprehensive plan for a new Police Department that will be able to protect and serve the citizens of Minneapolis.
Marsha Gille and Roger Raina, Minneapolis
FIFTH DISTRICT CAMPAIGN
The money going out and the money coming in
Addressing the relationship between her husband’s consulting business and campaign finances, U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar stated, “I don’t pay my husband. I pay the firm to do work.” (“Clash over style, fundraising,” front page, Aug. 1.) OK, a consulting firm accrues the business, then typically pays its members or employees a “draw” or a salary. Are we to believe Omar’s husband does not receive compensation from his own company? In addition, Omar points out that most of the $600,000 directed to his firm went to vendors for media and campaign materials. During my career, my firm produced and placed hundreds of political ads. We also developed swarms of campaign materials. Our consulting fee for services was 15%, which is the industry standard. Are we to believe that her husband’s firm waived its fees? If so, could that waiver be construed as an in-kind contribution to her campaign?
Dan Gunderson, Minneapolis
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I find it troubling that Fifth District candidate Antone Melton-Meaux has received many large donations from Republican donors in this Democratic primary. It is similar to what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez encountered in her primary this year when large amounts of money were donated to her challenger from what appeared to be Republicans or Wall Street sources. In both cases, the challengers appear to be less threatening to these wealthy Republicans than are the incumbents.
In the case of the claim from Melton-Meaux that Omar is a divider, I remember U.S. Sens. Paul Wellstone and Al Franken, and they had their issues (Wellstone — Defense of Marriage Act, abortion rights, human rights and gun control; Franken — same-sex marriage, gun control and abortion rights) that many thought were out of step with the majority. We need leaders who are willing to press for new ideas that may not be popular now but will be. Omar is doing this kind of leadership.
Larry Hampel, St. Paul
‘CAMP IN A BOX’
When pandemic restrictions hand you lemons, make lemonade
I was so pleased to see the recent article about local camp-in-a-box offerings (Variety, Aug. 1). As a proud Angel Cancer Foundation employee, we just wrapped a wildly successful four-week Camp Angel in a Box program. As with all of our programs, it was free for children and teens who have or have had a parent with cancer. More than 100 campers participated during the month of July and enjoyed Zoom calls with silly camp songs and age-specific camp groups, water balloon fights, learning about cancer/treatment and medical play (they even received their own stuffed animal with a port!), hikes and outdoor time, art therapy activities and camp crafts, games and more.
Not only did staff and volunteers have fun connecting with our new and return campers, but the feedback we received from the parents (and campers!) topped our expectations. Families shared they were talking more and learning together, and also said it was so nice for them to experience pieces of our traditional Camp Angel summer camp from their own homes. The campers equally blossomed and sent us photos and letters of thanks for the fun and meaningful experiences they had.
Yes, COVID-19 restrictions have truly resulted in a lot of difficult change for everyone, and especially for our immunocompromised families that have cancer. However, we didn’t know the sheer amount of joy, relief, fun and laughter that would come out of Camp Angel in a Box. Who knew that a 180-degree redesign of Camp Angel would not only bring smiles to our faces, fun routines and summer nostalgia into our lives? We sure made lemonade from lemons this summer.
Sarah Manes, Minneapolis
The writer is vice president at Angel Cancer Foundation.