Readers Write: Jamal Mitchell, Mary Moriarty and Ryan Londregan (2024)

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As I write this, I've just returned from an impromptu event at the Apostle Restaurant in St. Paul for the benefit of a great Minneapolis police officer, Jamal Mitchell, who was killed in the line of duty. The Apostle Restaurant donated the event's proceeds to Mitchell's family.

I am overcome by a feeling of helplessness after this tragedy. You see, I retired nearly 20 years ago from that illustrious organization after serving for 32 years. I hate that I had to leave the job and the people I dearly loved, and I sincerely miss it. Age can be cruel.

When a tragedy like this occurs, we look for the reason it happened. We think, "If only I had been there, maybe things would have been different." Then I remember the City Council that wanted to defund the police, some of the same ones who lined up behind the police chief for a photo op. Then I remember the county attorney and attorney general, who are more interested in charging cops than holding criminals accountable. (A small wager here — I'll bet the killer had a long record of violence and would have still been in jail, had he served the time he was sentenced to.) And don't forget the judge who handed down the lenient sentence — you know, the ones who are elected with no competition. So, my message to the citizens of Minneapolis, who are suffering daily from lawlessness, is: What were you thinking? You elected these people even after they told you what they were going to do.

The real tragedy is, in about three days, this brave young man will be forgotten by all except his family and friends. You'll go back to worrying about bicycle lanes, bee-friendly lawns and if the co-op has fresh kale, while others will sleep in their bathtubs because of the gunshots in the neighborhood and lament the fact that there are not enough cops to protect them.

Arthur Hart, Champlin


The Star Tribune has published moving and troubling stories about the death of Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell and the increases in targeted attacks and killings of police officers since the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots ("Assaults against police increasing," June 2).

Reporters covering police issues for the last three to four years should have been reporting more often on this terrible trend instead of focusing on the statistically insignificant number of police shootings of Black suspects. A Black victim is hundreds of times more likely to be shot by a criminal than a police officer in Minneapolis.

Members of the Minneapolis City Council majority, who started the police-defunding movement, only now show up at a press conference to mourn Mitchell. The council's most radical members would not even mention Mitchell's name in their post-killing X posts.

They should say his name.

Their silence is deafening. They created the conditions that led to Mitchell's killing. Mitchell was working a one-man overtime shift because the council has intentionally sabotaged the Minneapolis Police Department. The Minnesota Supreme Court's Spann decision held that the mayor and council are charter-required to get the officer corps back to 731. Yet the council won't negotiate fairly with the police federation — while at the same time literally rallying with other unionized workers. They have capriciously refused to make the MPD competitive in the police labor market.

They do so largely to the detriment of Minneapolis' working-class Black community. Sort of like how the 2020 rioters burned down minority-owned businesses on Lake Street in their anarchic fit of spite.

Reporters should report the whole truth, and Minneapolis must end its war on cops.

James Dickey, Andover

The writer is the senior counsel of the Upper Midwest Law Center.


Another reason for a new process

The prosecutorial imbroglio between Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty and Gov. Tim Walz is not so much proof of bad faith or mishandled prosecutorial discretion as it is proof positive of what I believe should have become immediately evident after the Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter cases.

Despite the skill with which the attorney general assembled powerhouse prosecution teams in those cases, Minnesota needs a permanent solution to the investigation and prosecution of its allegations of law enforcement wrongdoing.

Rather than forcing local elected county attorneys to make the choice of either seeking grand jury indictments against law enforcement officers involved in fatal shootings — a choice which often makes them appear too detached from the cause of real justice — or charging a difficult case fraught with political pitfalls, Minnesota needs a permanent appointee in the role of special state prosecutor for such matters.

The Office of Special State Prosecutor could be housed at the Attorney General's Office and by statutory authority receive referrals from local prosecutors, the AG or the governor.

Not only would this increase the likelihood that such cases would avoid the potential for political brouhaha that has enfolded the recently dismissed prosecution of trooper Ryan Londregan, but we need the professionalism and enhanced expertise resulting from a singular focus on such prosecution matters that a permanent office can provide.

I know from a couple of decades of handling police misconduct cases in civil rights litigation how truly difficult such cases can be.

It should be evident that the decision to seek a justified and successful criminal conviction is even more complex — as we should have learned from prosecutions of Derek Chauvin and Kim Potter.

Time to treat police-related criminal matters as the very highly specialized criminal prosecutions that both the alleged victims and the accused law enforcement officers deserve.

Albert Turner Goins Sr., White Bear Lake


I read the exchange between Walz and Moriarty and was immediately reminded that human beings can display ingrained attitudes and behaviors — no matter how high their station may be within the community. Emotions have blinded rational thinking. Our respected leaders are not immune. And, when we members of the community witness two very important functionaries in our government "trash talking" at each other, we are saddened, if not angered ourselves. Personally, I have been impressed with the performance of Walz. On the other hand, growing up in a civil rights household, I have deep empathy for members of oppressed communities — referring, of course, to Moriarty. So, I am unaligned. I find it impossible to believe there is substance to the notion that Walz is hom*ophobic. Still, I know that being gay brings on bad experiences. Understandably, that may cause suspicion of hom*ophobia when none really exists. (As an aside, thanks to Rep. Angie Craig for identifying Walz as a gay ally.) So, by my reckoning, the friction between the governor and the prosecutor really boils down to a moderate approach to governance (Walz) vs. a progressive approach to governance (Moriarty).

But this is the worst possible moment to have this unpleasant public exchange. Our community is riven by the death of Ricky Cobb II — a Black man — at the hands of Londregan — a white cop. Once more, the specter of George Floyd, with its lingering pain, returns four years later. And this tragedy has huge repercussions that far eclipse the ill feelings between the governor and the county attorney.

So, where do we go from here? I am confident that Walz and Moriarty are both people of substance and integrity. As such, their current friction will dissipate. Attention will refocus on the big issue: repairing damaged relations between the Black community and law enforcement. Our Twin Cities community needs to mend.

Richard Masur, Minneapolis

Readers Write: Jamal Mitchell, Mary Moriarty and Ryan Londregan (2024)
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