Letters: Boorish behavior disrupts graduation, undermines support for the cause

12 May 2024

Turning people against the cause

On May 4 we attended Metro U’s graduation ceremony at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Not long into the ceremony, large groups of attendees began screeching “Gaza! Gaza! Gaza!” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was a guest speaker but soon was shouted down; she adeptly wrapped up her speech and left. When the graduates walked across the stage to receive their diplomas, there was so much ruckus that those trying to announce the names had trouble being heard. People were disgustedly giving up and leaving. One graduate was carrying a garment made of keffiyeh-patterned fabric (a symbol of Palestinian solidarity) which they then pranced around waving on stage, adding to the chaos.

I firmly believe in the right to peacefully protest. And I find it heartening when college students care about world events and want to make a difference. The events in Gaza make me sick at heart. But this was just shameful. These graduates, and graduates everywhere, work long and hard to earn this day of celebration, with their proud families and loved ones looking on. These are not political events. Some colleges across the country are canceling, or scaling back, their graduation ceremonies because of intimidation from protestors.

Such boorish and crazed behavior does nothing positive for one’s cause, but serves to turn people against it instead. Those protestors that Saturday didn’t look like principled advocates for anything, but more like a bunch of selfish hoodlums who need to grow up.

Carol Turnbull, Woodbury


Rightfully incensed

Campus protesters are rightfully incensed about the mayhem in Gaza. The Amnesty International report posted April 30 stated that Israel has used U.S.-supplied weapons against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, in incidents that should be investigated as war crimes. It calls on the U.S. to stop sending more offensive weapons, in favor of an immediate cease-fire and supplying of life-saving aid to starving people. Congress and President Biden should have applied restrictions of the Leahy Law to this conflict.

With the deaths of more than 34,000 people in Gaza, and no end in sight, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have found evidence of war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli government, including collective punishment, indiscriminate attacks, and direct attacks on civilian objects. In their stated intent to use all means to destroy Hamas, Israeli forces have shown a shocking
disregard for civilian lives.

Another favorite issue of the widespread campus protesters is a call for ending of apartheid in Gaza and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I have been active in Twin Cities Amnesty International work since 1976, and I salute these noble intentions stated by campus protesters.

Gary W. King, Fridley


If we believe in liberty and justice for all …

What is the resistance to passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) now before the Minnesota Legislature? Does not every human being in our democracy deserve the same rights as everyone else whether or not you share the same religion, skin color or biology?

Although the Constitution and our guiding principles were written by men, literally, they created a document to grow with changing times and new knowledge. They created a representative government not just for some people, for all people. Opposing the ERA is antithetical to our democracy.

Do we value each citizen or not? It is simple. It is right. It is just. The ERA speaks to our humanity as a nation. There is no room here for religious, race or class superiority. The ERA validates the values and social structure of modern democracy — liberty and justice for all. If you believe in our democracy, pass the ERA.

Sarah Koper, St. Paul


What good are gun laws if we don’t enforce them?

Doesn’t make any good sense to have law books filled with firearm laws if they aren’t used to put criminals in prison.

Your recent article, “4th funeral shooting defendant sentenced,” clearly exposes major problems with the judicial system.

Three of the defendants, with agreement with the judges and prosecutors, used the charges of illegally possessing firearms as a bargaining chip to get other charges reduced. The attempted murder charge was dismissed with a plea deal even though one man was killed and four others wounded during the shooting. Two of the defendants had charges of illegal possession of firearms dismissed through a plea deal. The total prison time for the four defendants convicted of the shooting where one man was killed and four were wounded is 5-1/2 years and three years probation.

Under current federal law each charge of illegal possession of a firearm, if convicted, carries a minimum sentence of five years prison time. It seems that those charges of illegal possession would be “slam dunk” convictions, (20 years of prison time) that were just thrown away by the judges and prosecutors. Is this justice for the man killed and the four wounded? Plea deals should be against the law and breaking of gun laws be prosecuted.

Gary Schraml, Lindstrom


We need to know about about TKDA’s move from St. Paul

I was dismayed to read of TKDA’s move from downtown St. Paul to Bloomington. TKDA has been a very important asset in downtown for over 100 years. I had the pleasure of working with TKDA leadership on a few very important projects in St. Paul. They had a special passion for their home city. So this loss will hurt St. Paul  from both an economic and leadership standpoint.

I found the rationale expressed in the article to be at best, thin, and at worst, insincere. First, comments from the company suggest that they need to move to meet the demands of a growing company. Perhaps. But with the amount of vacant space in downtown there are plenty of opportunities for relocation nearby. Second, they claim they need better access to the airport. Really? Getting from downtown to the airport (by private automobile, cab or Uber) takes 10 to 14 minutes.  And getting from their new site might take 6 to 10 minutes. The approximately 4 minute difference seems like a trifle.

Finally, this move comes at a tough time for St. Paul. And TKDA’s current leadership seems to be tone deaf to the Capital City’s current situation. TKDA needs to be more transparent beyond their current public statements. The decision has been made, but the company owes more to St. Paul than a few transparently trite statements.

Allen Lovejoy, Woodbury
The writer was a St. Paul city planner from 1978-2004


After this, I won’t ride the light rail again

Is the light rail safe to ride at night? I have my opinion after riding the Green Line on a Saturday night, but I will let the reader reach their own conclusions.

My daughter and I attended the Kenny Chesney concert at the US Bank stadium on May 4. We decided to take the Green Line back to St. Paul to avoid the traffic jams in Minneapolis. We planned on taking it to the Union Depot and getting a ride from there to our home.

We got on the light rail in front of the US Bank stadium with numerous other people. The light rail trains were crowded and we felt safe and comfortable. At each stop more and more people got off the train until my daughter and I and only a few other people remained on the train as we got closer to downtown St. Paul.

At one of the stops a group of young men got on, all wearing surgical masks or face coverings. They crowded around us. A girl came up from the front and started hitting one of the young men sitting across from me. Then another woman came and broke up the fight. After that, two of the men in the group started arguing. Another passenger, who was not a member of this group, stood in front of my daughter and me and said “If you touch these girls, you will have to kill me first.” I believe this “guardian angel” is the only reason we were not injured. Meanwhile the two men across from us got in a fist fight and ran into the guy protecting me, shielding us from danger. My daughter said “I’m going to die.” I assured her, like a mom should, that we would be okay, but I was not really sure. There was blood on the seat across from us.

The police were called somewhere near downtown St. Paul and all the young men scattered out into the street. The man who was helping us said, “There are cameras on this train, but the police always come too late.”

We reached our destination at the Union Depot at midnight. When we got off the light rail we saw about four Metro Transit police cars just stationed at different areas on the street. I wish they would have been on the light rail with me.

I will never take the light rail again after this experience. There is a lot of talk how it is improved and there is more security, but I did not see any of it on this night. The light rail has the potential to be a great amenity, but first the crime must be dealt with so people feel safe at any hour of the day.

Mary Geisenhoff, Centerville

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