The gist of Ben Cohen’s commentary “Last living memories of the Holocaust will soon be gone” (July 23) is poignant. We should all understand and heed his message.
As my former student, Ben consistently displayed a sense of maturity and insightfulness, which he displayed in his message. It is imperative to remember the past because it affects our present and informs our future. People from the past may be gone, but ideas remain — it’s how we deal with these ideas from the past that is crucial.
As a kid growing up in Chicago, I traveled by train to visit my grandma in Montgomery, Ala., most summer breaks. I experienced the vestiges of Jim Crow. I waited in the colored waiting room. I drank from the colored drinking fountains. How can I forget those images? More important, why should I?
Many people say we should forget the past and move forward because allowing our oppressive history to affect the present only creates racial conflict. But that is faulty reasoning. Of course we should not blame anyone living now for the sins of their ancestors, but those alive benefit from our past ideas and systems. Recognizing that doesn’t mean we lay blame on anyone or allow conflict to arise, which is how I choose to deal with our past. I’m not stuck, but I will remember.
Peter K. Redmond, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired language arts teacher.
• • •
One need only to sit with a Holocaust survivor and see the numbers tattooed on their arm and listen to their story to wonder how anyone survived these atrocities.
Many of their stories have been documented. Some have chosen forgiveness. If my entire family was murdered in the camps, I am not certain I could.
Cohen’s grandmother made a promise to herself “to make sure nobody will ever forget what happened.” Kudos to you, Judy Meisel, for your valiant effort in educating the following generations about this malicious period in history and for your grandson in carrying forth.
We must teach our children about the Holocaust and how unfortunate it is that they will not be able to hear its survivors’ stories in person and observe the dignity with which they went on to live their lives.
Ursula Krawczyk, St. Paul
Embrace prevention, peacekeeping
Heartfelt thanks to Melvin W. Carter Jr. for the personal reflection and compelling arguments for re-embracing the “peace officer” model and emphasizing that “95% of preserving public tranquillity is about peacekeeping” (“Define policing, once again, as a peacekeeping endeavor,” Opinion Exchange, July 24). Minneapolis has 70 neighborhood organizations, most with limited paid staff that rely on volunteers. What if each neighborhood organization had a peace officer who lived and served in their neighborhood? They may or may not need to be a licensed police officer to effectively serve their neighborhood.
The current model of crime-prevention specialists in each police precinct is very helpful for us in southeast Como in the Minneapolis Second Precinct. However, there are only 16 crime-prevention specialists across the five police precincts citywide. Our crime-prevention specialist is in regular contact with our community, attends our monthly neighborhood organization board meeting and participates in our community outreach events, such as our Como Cookout. Also, in southeast Como, the Second Precinct crime-prevention specialist works closely with the University of Minnesota Police Department’s Community Engagement Team. Before the pandemic, they regularly teamed up to organize and participate in neighborhood safety walks and outreach events, such as our Bike Fest. Bike Cops for Kids also participates in our Bike Fest, and even during the pandemic has been able to provide many bicycles and helmets to neighbors in southeast Como.
We are in desperate need of seeing more of folks like the MPD crime-prevention specialists and the UMPD Community Engagement Team.
Karl A. Smith, Minneapolis
• • •
I am writing to praise the Bloomington police officers who handled a recent traffic stop reported in the Star Tribune and recorded on a dashcam video (“Police apologize for man’s arrest,” July 14). The video showed the interactions between three officers and a Black driver. The officers thought the man was wanted on a felony arrest warrant.
From the beginning to the end of this video, some 14 minutes in length, I saw three police officers handling the stop in the most professional way. Of particular note to me was the politeness and respectful attitude shown the driver/felony suspect by the female officer who was in charge. In the end, the officers discovered that the driver was not the person wanted in the warrant. Upon discovering their mistake (a reasonable mistake given that the driver and the person listed in the warrant had the same name), the officers expressed genuine regret and apologized for inconveniencing the driver. The officers released the driver without issuing a ticket for speeding (he had been going 50 mph in a 35-miles-per-hour zone) and without issuing a ticket for driving on a suspended license (which he had been doing after not paying a previous ticket).
The decision to not issue tickets was an appropriate use of police discretion in light of the obvious fear their encounter with the driver had caused for him, a Black man stopped by three white police officers. I hope that police departments everywhere will use this video in their training programs dealing with how officers should interact with all citizens (including even those suspected of having committed felonies, as was the case here).
Allen Desmond, Minneapolis
A beloved glove and game
Women have baseball-glove stories, too (“The legend of the baseball glove,” Opinion Exchange, July 22). I grew up in a neighborhood where pickup baseball games after dinner were a several-nights-a-week occurrence. I am lefthanded. When I was 10, my dad helped me purchase a glove of my own. I was never without it, as I was the only lefty in the neighborhood. No glove, out of luck. When I started my first job out of college, in the summers we always had a softball team. I kept my glove in the back seat of my car to be safe because, as always, I was the only lefthanded player. One night, I opened the back door to reach for the glove and it was not there. I frantically searched the floor, under the seats; it was gone. I was devastated. That was to be my one and only glove. I never replaced it. Luckily, soon afterward I started a new job without an associated softball team.
Even gloveless, my love for the game never diminished. I was a devoted Pittsburgh Pirates fan (World Series winner finally in 1960) until 1961, when the Twins came to Minnesota. I waited impatiently for the start of this shortened season, with fond memories of my baseball days and my beloved glove.
Barbara Thomson, Golden Valley
• • •
Dick Schwartz’s story about his baseball glove brought back memories for me, as it did for many others. There is one ritual that still is magical to me, no matter the time of the year. Put on the glove, open it wide, stick your face right into the pocket and inhale deeply. Whether you are still playing or have long since hung it up, that smell will bring you right back — either assuring you that the season is coming or reminding you of great seasons past.
John Metcalfe, Inver Grove Heights
We want to hear from you. Send us your thoughts here.