Readers Write: Police and Leneal Frazier, protesting by private homes, public safety, lunch shaming

The Minneapolis police killed Leneal Frazier, and it can hardly be called an accident (“Innocent crash victim is mourned,” front page, July 8). A squad car was willfully driving at high speeds through a residential neighborhood in pursuit of a carjacking suspect when it crashed into Frazier’s vehicle. Frazier was not the suspect police were after. He was an innocent citizen living what turned out to be the last moments of his life.

The hypocrisy here is stark. Frazier’s needless death comes at a time when police and the State Patrol are cracking down on speeding and street racing. 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year in over a decade with year-to-date road fatalities nearly 40% higher than last year. As of the end of the July 4th weekend, 215 Minnesotans have died in vehicular crashes this year, and speed has been identified as a contributing factor to the concerning rise in traffic deaths. The Minnesota State Patrol emphasized in a June 15 Facebook post that street racing is dangerous driving and a growing problem and that they want drivers to understand that excessive speeds can lead to life-changing consequences.

There is no situation in which a high-speed police chase is warranted. There are other ways to track down a suspect that don’t endanger citizens’ lives. The police should be providing an example of upstanding behavior, not the reckless endangerment of life.

Sarah Risser, Minneapolis

•••

In response to the Thursday letter writer who said, “There is not and has not been an ‘epidemic’ of police killings or of police killings of Black people in America or Minnesota,” I would ask, how many deaths qualify it as an epidemic? Whether intended or not, this is classic gaslighting. The writer says a debate over the problem is needed, while at the same time insisting there is no problem. Black people have been systematically targeted by police in this country since there were police. Whether you want to call it an “epidemic” or not is beside the point. It’s a crisis and needs to change.

Ray Lancon, St. Louis Park

PROTESTS

The Thursday letter “No to undemocratic intimidation” misses the fact that protest is a very democratic form of political participation and not one typically allowed in dictatorships. What the letter writer seeks is for the state to put further restrictions on what it considers “appropriate speech” so that the people will be left with fewer options to make their voice heard. History hasn’t shown that to work very well. I hope more people make their voices heard through protest and continue to target people in the public sphere who are able to push for and responsible for driving change.

Sean Simonson, Edina

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Minneapolis Uptown Art Fair — which would have had its 57th year this year and brought 300,000 people in attendance, and is one of Minnesota’s largest art fairs — is now canceled due to ongoing civil unrest, road blockages, vandalism, violence and looting in Minneapolis’ Uptown neighborhood (“Uptown Art Fair canceled amid safety concerns,” July 7).

This very grave decision impacts the incomes of 300 artists and performers, countless food trucks, vendors, restaurants, kids’ lemonade/Kool-Aid/pop/water stands, local businesses, cabdrivers, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, Airbnb rentals, panhandlers, etc., and negatively impacts property values and the amount of collected taxes.

What if the mayor and governor were to agree to deploy the Minnesota National Guard, as they have recently successfully done, in Uptown to patrol the perimeter of this beloved art fair during the fair dates to maintain the peace and keep the participants, attendees and local businesses safe from road blockages, civil unrest, vandalism, public and private property damage and looting?

What would happen if this idea was implemented? Would this idea bring prosperity to Minnesota?

Dave Giese, Minneapolis

•••

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Tuesday regarding shootings, “I want you to know that we are doing absolutely everything that we can to stem the violence.”

Yet the human suffering continues in the Windy City. In the deadliest and most violent weekend this year in Chicago, this past July 4th weekend, 104 people were shot and 19 of them were killed. Among the wounded were at least 13 children and two Chicago police supervisors. Five of the kids were shot within nine hours, including a 6-year-old shot at 1 a.m. (Why is a 6-year-old out at 1 a.m.?) From January to July 4th, 2,019 people were shot in Chicago.

Maybe the mayor should try a new plan to curb the violence. The current plan does not seem to be really working well. Now that President Joe Biden flew into town and met with the mayor, maybe our president has better ideas to save future Chicagoland families from devastation, anguish and countless tears.

God knows, Chicago could use a better plan and action to stem the violence. Maybe the mayor can recruit Clint Eastwood to join her violence task force.

Neil F. Anderson, Richfield

NO MORE LUNCH SHAMING

A July 7 article titled “Lawmakers curb school lunch shaming” described a recent bill that passed that details how schools cannot demean or stigmatize students for their lunch debts. With this legislation, students will not have to watch their meal get taken away or be stuck with any stickers or pins.

This legislation is pivotal in overcoming food insecurity for children in schools. It is not uncommon for students who face food insecurity at home to have difficulty paying or keeping up with their lunch debts. Shaming over unpaid lunch debts exacerbates the food insecurity issue with these students. Students who do not receive enough food at home should not have to also worry about having no food at his or her public school. Additionally, stigmatization is traumatic for children and may cause these food-insecure boys and girls to avoid eating altogether, despite their hunger, in order to avoid public humiliation.

Food insecurity is a large problem throughout Minnesota, even if many middle-class Minnesotans are unaffected. If anyone is hungry, we should work to remove barriers to this most basic human necessity. Even though this legislation has the somewhat narrow focus of impacting food insecurity within public schools, improving access to food for children is certainly a step in the right direction.

Anna Foster, Hastings

•••

I was happy to see further measures are being taken to end lunch shaming in schools, though it is disappointing that they are needed in the first place. I hope this will be enforced more than the original 2014 legislation was. Negative attitudes and actions of adults in schools toward lunch debts only exacerbate the stigma that children receiving free and reduced lunches experience. As State Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said, children do not deserve to be hungry and good nutrition is essential for successful students. The pandemic has highlighted just how many children depend on schools to provide meals during the day. Free meals until June 2022 is a good start, but this is not a problem that suddenly appeared with the pandemic, and it is not going to suddenly disappear as it ends. How will we continue to ensure children are fed so they can be as successful as possible in school and in the future?

Marissa Smith, St. Paul

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