George Floyd’s death was so blatant, so unjustifiable and so disturbing, that it should be entirely uncontroversial to condemn it as racist violence and demand the prosecution of all four officers. That four officers could all participate in this, and that it is only the latest of a disturbing pattern, reveals the systemic nature of Minnesota’s racism and policing problems.
Arson, looting and random destruction should also be uncontroversial to condemn. As Minnesotans given yet another wake-up call to the systemic racism infecting our society, we need to take action to secure the safety of our community — not further endanger and impoverish it.
Take constructive action. We cannot bring back George Floyd but we can prevent further deaths. Call your political representatives. Join local activist and nonprofit groups. Engage with your neighbors. Attend town halls. Peacefully protest. Take every step you can to reform police practices, reform prosecution, increase accountability and transparency, and bring about justice in housing, employment and education, where Minnesota’s racial gaps are among the nation’s worst.
As Floyd’s family stated, “Looting and violence distract from the strength of our collective voice.” Destroying our own city is not an effective political message and does not help the cause of equality or justice. Minneapolis has a massive national spotlight on it right now. Let’s put that spotlight on what we’re going to do to stop violence and injustice.
Lucas Foley, Minneapolis
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Hmm, so maybe now it is glaringly obvious that instead of burnishing national reputations regarding high-density housing development and bicycle lanes, our City Council and mayor truly had deeper and more meaningful equity work that they should have focused on.
Kathy Scoggin, Minneapolis
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I have been praying for President Donald Trump’s defeat in the next election and fear he has just been handed a victory in Minnesota. Many Trump voters yearn for the “old days” of social order and fear the future for their children. Riots exacerbate these fears.
The response of our weak civic leaders, who always refer to the “pain” of the protesters without loudly condemning those who steal a TV set as criminals just looking to score some free stuff, turns these voters off. In the old days, looters were shot on sight. A few more of these riots and people will be clamoring to bring those rules back.
If people believe that Trump is the best bet for order, that will “trump” everything. God, isn’t that scary.
Edward Stegman, Hastings
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The death of Floyd and the subsequent response and violence have made one thing clear. We have come to a point in our history where we are electing politicians with canned sound bites and not leaders. And today, we really need leaders.
Stephen Tornio, Plymouth
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Putting aside for the moment the dreadful death of George Floyd, the only thing worse than the widespread looting, violence and arson in our city is the total capitulation and incompetence of Minneapolis officials in their ability and courage to protect its citizens and property.
While city and law enforcement officials sat in their comfortable fortresses, worried about whether, or how, to bring charges against the four fired police officers, they yet failed to provide common-sense planning and mobilization of law enforcement to prevent lawful protests from expanding into unlawful and criminal behavior. Instead, our city police and officials retreated like rats from a burning ship. And that burning ship is our city and its citizens.
Regardless of the Floyd investigation, I look for the resignations of Chief Medaria Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey. It’s the least they can do, and that might also be the most they can do.
George K. Atkins, Minneapolis
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I support the decision of city leaders not to engage the protesters in my neighborhood at the Third Precinct. I can’t see how the police or National Guard could have defended the building without harming the predominantly young, appropriately angry, passionate protesters. It was clear protesters were ready to fight, and the mature move was not to engage with them to protect property that would be damaged either way.
I am saddened by these actions, but we have seen that sometimes our forces have been ready to let people die for crimes that don’t endanger human life. This time we did something different and as sad as I am about the damage to small business and property, I am confident our city will help them rebuild. I assume the Targets and bigger businesses are well-insured. Taking a step back and considering what damage to life, limb and property could have occurred in a confrontation, as of this early Friday morning, I think leaders made the right call. What happens now remains to be seen, but I am glad that we didn’t decide to repeat the errors of the ’60s and early ’70s and harm or kill a lot of rioters to save property.
Susan Lane, Minneapolis
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Is healing really what we need? Or is it trust?
It disturbs me to hear our leaders tell us that healing is needed. That suggests that if we could just heal from the death of George Floyd, all will be well. Yes, healing will be needed for his family and friends. And justice will be needed as well by bringing the former police officers to trial, though that won’t solve things either. What is needed is true change in our police department that will bring a pathway to trust for our citizens.
We’re told that 99% of our cops are good cops, and I dearly hope that’s true. I’d like to know how many of the cops in Minneapolis and St. Paul have been found to use excessive force over the past five years. And what happened to them. I’d like to know if we stopped using warrior training and similar training, and what has been done to retrain those who were encouraged to use those tactics. I’d like to know how cops are expected to act as checks and balances on each other so they don’t stand by when one of their own steps out of line. I know being a cop is a tough job — so it requires even more tough standards for ethics and humanity so that the limits are clear.
The Star Tribune has done some courageous reporting in the past, and I hope you will step into this one in a way that could eventually lead to trust and some true healing.
Barbara Klatt, St. Paul
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I was appalled when I saw the footage of a police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. My first thought is that this looks like a killing. But, like most other citizens of the Twin Cities, I’ll wait for a complete investigation.
I’m just as appalled by the rioting and looting that has happened. What are they thinking? These criminals didn’t even know Floyd. It looks to most people like the rioters and looters were just looking for an excuse. Target, Cub Foods, the auto store, liquor store and other stores didn’t kill George Floyd.
Many businesses have had their property stolen and buildings burned. They may choose to move their businesses to a different part of the city, which will hurt both their customers and their former employees.
Until the judicial process is complete, we can’t be certain that what happened was a crime. Meanwhile, innocent people are being hurt by this reprehensible behavior. The riots need to stop and we need to wait for the process to complete.
James Brandt, New Brighton
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