Letter to the Editor

Protests vs. riots

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Protests are American and protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Riots are not. Learn the difference. Donít conflate the two.

The Minneapolis 3rd Precinct neighborhood was my home for 19 years. My house was the closest one to the Lake/Hiawatha intersection. I have family living the last 40 years one street over and less than two blocks from where George Floyd was killed. I visit often and last time shopped the stores across the street from the 5th Precinct, the center of protests Saturday. I remember when the 3rd Precinct was built, shopped the Target and Cub Food store, caught the bus by the liquor store. I was on my neighborhood organization board and chaired events to improve and revitalize the area. We worked with police contacts. I keep up on Minneapolis news, listening to radio and reading the newspaper online, almost daily. I donít expect others to understand my anguish and heartache of the destruction of my old neighborhood. I wonít tolerate uninformed criticism of my former neighbors and family because of where they live with zero knowledge of them or the neighborhoods.

Saturday night, convoys of National Guard and police vehicles went by my family memberís house. An hour and a half after the peaceful protests were ended and after curfew, they and their neighbors confronted four teenagers from Wisconsin loitering by their homes. Friday night, the friends of another family member stopped a different group of four 18-year-olds from Wisconsin trying to start fires.

Riots were being instigated with strategically planned acts by organized groups using trained and outfitted members intended to foment the breakdown of civilized society leading to the destruction of our government. Acts are easily viewed on videos and TV. Totally covered all in black with military type boots and gas masks (not casual clothes like the peaceful protestors) calmly smashing windows at the AutoZone store with a crowbar, the first windows to be broken (Google umbrella man) while peaceful protestors tried to stop them. The instigators were the first ones trying to tear down the fences, they broke bricks into smaller pieces then picked them up for weapons apparently. Even officials have noted 20% arrested are from out of state and seen insignias on cars of known underground, dark web groups. People of the neighborhood I know, were out trying to stop the violence as noted above and clean up the aftermath.

Thereís no excuse for the looting either, those taking advantage of the chaos the instigators initiated. Donít let the rioters and looters distract from the catalyst of the protests, the death of George Floyd, and the legitimate outrage and heartache felt by the protestors.

Donít even try to blame the city and state leaders just because they are Democrats. Republican run states like Georgia and even Iowa had riots. Excuse the unintended pun, but thatís a cop out and only stokes the countryís division. Governor Walz and Mayor Frey were elected to make changes and are trying. The White House administration is doing the opposite, using violent rhetoric with historically racial ties and only blaming anti-fascists, anti-capitalist alt left extremists groups while ignoring involvement of alt right extremist groups like the Boogaloo Boys that want a second civil war.

The one true division in this country/world is wealth disparity. I support capitalism, but not unchecked capitalism at the expense of the working people that create the wealth and the health of the planet. Government was created to keep that in check even with unrelenting attacks against the safeguards by those that benefit from their removal. As Paul Wellstone said ďWe all do better when we all do better.Ē

For things to change there has to be acknowledgement that while progress has been made, racism still exists, both consciously and unconsciously. Just because itís a struggle to make needed changes is no excuse to regress to the proven failed racism of history. For reference, as of the 2010 Census, Minneapolis is over 63% white. In Minneapolis, one place to start is to hold Bob Kroll, the Minneapolis Police Union president accountable.

Donít forget about COVID-19. Itís as strong and active as always. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay home if youíre sick. Stop the spread.

ó Diane Smith, Spencer