Minneapolis leadership has lost its way. After reading the Star Tribune Instagram headline “Minneapolis Park Board: No more citations for women going topless in the parks,” I just had to shake my head. I am no prude, but I also appreciate people who take time to consider our current city climate. Could there possibly be other issues to prioritize more than this one? The last nine months have been all about masking up and being vigilant about personal hygiene. Is our new Minneapolis motto “Mask up! Shirts off!”?
C’mon, Minneapolis, you can do better than this! We are not even in the correct season. It’s winter, for goodness’ sake!
Susie Valentine, Minneapolis
On reforming our departments
The St. Paul initiative toward “unbundling” police services seems like a logical and simple path toward accomplishing something tangible related to police reform (“Handling the basics of city policing,” editorial, Nov. 23). This path should not be controversial. Private businesses have been doing this for years. It’s a proven practice typically known as outsourcing. It makes sense to realign work tasks/responsibilities away from generalists (which is what police officers are) toward trained specialists who can perform those tasks/responsibilities in a more effective manner. Of course the reallocation of budgeting and funding must follow, thus providing a path where the number of “generalist” police officers can be reduced. Based on current staffing needs, this really means not needing to hire officers to fill open positions. Best wishes to St. Paul for speedy realignment of tasks, responsibilities and services.
Tom McDonough, Eagan
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A few weeks ago, the Minneapolis City Council narrowly approved in a 7-6 vote to allocate $500,000 to the Minneapolis Police Department to bring in outside officers for the alleged purpose of quelling the city’s rise in violence (“Mpls. council OKs help for police,” front page, Nov. 14).
I did a quick Google search for more background information on the situation, and the first article that popped up was from the Star Tribune, titled, “Most of Minneapolis City Council pledges to ‘begin the process of ending’ Police Department.” The City Council’s pledge to begin the process of ending the MPD stands in stark contrast to the council’s most recent decision to award a significant amount of money to the same Police Department that killed George Floyd and has killed 22 Black people (eight unarmed) since 2000, also according to the Star Tribune.
I am dismayed and disappointed that my council member, Lisa Goodman, has been leading the charge for more police in Minneapolis when it is clear that MPD has not been effective in reducing violent activity across the city but has been effective in bringing irreparable harm to countless Minneapolis residents.
I understand that people are uncertain and afraid during these trying times, but the City Council owes a duty to the residents it promised to protect by defunding the MPD. As City Council member Andrea Jenkins said, “It’s possible to be conflicted and know what the right thing to do is.” I wholeheartedly agree: The existence of conflicting opinions about the fate of the MPD does not diminish the fact that the unequivocally right thing to do is to stop funding a force that has essentially unfettered power to kill Black and brown people with near impunity. I stand with my community members who are, have been and will continue to call for defunding the police.
Erin Anderson, Minneapolis
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I do not have the perspective of former Deputy Chief Gregory Hestness (“Do police make us safer?” Opinion Exchange, Nov. 20), but my experience as an instructor for professional drivers and as night manager of a transportation company brought me into frequent contact with both police administrators and beat officers in Minneapolis. I’ve seen courage frequently and less than that also frequently.
The problem with law enforcement isn’t so much bad cops — it’s the system in place that perniciously protects bad cops, even when they are witnessed committing crimes. Yes, there are no doubt extraordinary circumstances sometimes, but police seem to have a get-out-of-jail-free card, which in effect places them above the law.
Like it or not, police and their supporters, of which I am one, should realize that almost any citizen who views the recording of a subdued man pleading for his life while being slowly choked to death will see it as murder. Painful, yes, but it is perhaps a good place to start a conversation.
Frederic J. Anderson, Minneapolis
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I want to thank the St. Paul Police Foundation and Police Chief Todd Axtell (the first volunteer) for implementing this new mandate for annual wellness checks with a therapist for all 630 St. Paul officers (“St. Paul police mandate annual therapy,” Nov. 21). Dedicated public service isn’t possible without appreciating one’s own and others’ vulnerabilities. Employer commitment to self-care, to mental wellness, is something each person deserves. This is a great gift to our community.
My most unforgettable encounter with St. Paul police officers’ unflagging “devotion to duty” was at an annual memorial service at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Center, in recognition of those who had lost an animal family member, including police-work companions. I will never forget being warmly hugged by one of those grieving St. Paul officers. We cried together for a moment, as we reached out in the shared loss of a “best buddy,” each one remembered with a white rose and an inscribed stone.
COVID has taught us two valuable lessons, humility and kindness — toward ourselves and one another. We can’t lift others up until we ourselves have been on our knees. Self-care may be as simple as sharing with a nonjudgmental person something precious we’ve lost: significant savings, a long-awaited promotion, a neglected marriage, a close friend’s death in a car accident, a parent with dementia — and yes, a beloved companion animal.
Judith Monson, St. Paul
COVID AND THE HOLIDAYS
Stay home so no one must die alone
On April 21, 2011, my wife of over 25 years suffered a sudden and massive stroke. Five weeks later, she died, after I had to make the gut-wrenching decision to remove her from life support. During those five weeks, I almost never left her side. And, at the moment of her death, I was able to hold her hand and say goodbye to the person I had planned on spending the rest of my life with.
It was the most horrible experience I have ever had. But, as horrible as it was, I cannot imagine how I would have gotten through it if I could not have been by her side during it all. It would have been unbearable. And yet, this is what thousands of people in the U.S. are having to bear as they lose their loved ones to COVID-19.
We all know there are lots of things that must be overcome for us to see our lives return to some semblance of pre-COVID times. Some are complex and will take time to solve. But one is simple and can be solved in an instant. Selfishness. It is selfish to put your need to celebrate the holidays with family and friends ahead of the country’s need to contain the spread of this deadly virus. It is selfish to ignore the literal lifesaving guidance of health experts — wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, avoid large gatherings — because they are a momentary discomfort or inconvenience. It is selfish to do those things, and more, that deny the family of the COVID dead and dying the one act of solace and comfort that carried me through those soul-shattering five weeks — the chance to look, one last time, at the beautiful faces of their loved ones before saying goodbye forever.
So please, this holiday season, stay home. Wear a mask. Avoid social gatherings. Put the country’s need to heal itself ahead of your needs. Not forever. Just for now. That way, your family will be around next year to celebrate with you in person. And nobody dying in a hospital will have to die alone.
Ralph Bernstein, Minnetonka
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