Thumbs up to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for discontinuing the practice of stopping vehicles for minor violations, following the lead of Minneapolis.
Choi announced last week that his office will no longer prosecute such cases based on minor traffic stops and will instead work with police to mail warnings to violators.
Choi said the decision was driven by continued killings of Black men after being stopped for minor traffic violations. A few years ago, Philando Castile was stopped for a broken tail light and then eventually shot and killed by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Earlier this year, the same fate befell another young Black man Daunte Wright when his vehicle was stopped for something hanging from his mirror. Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot and killed Wright thinking she was tasing him.
Jeronimo was acquitted and Potter is awaiting trial.
The stops, Choi said, disproportionately target people of color and are discriminatory.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell also agreed to work with Choi to tell his officers stops should only be made if there is a public safety reason such as wreckless driving or speeding.
For too long these easily changeable policies have been allowed to endure. Choi and Minneapolis have led the way. Now its time for other prosecutors and police across the state to adopt similar policies.
Thumbs up to Minnesota State University English professor Gwen Westerman being named Minnesota’s poet laureate, the first time the honor has been presented to a Native American.
The Dakota scholar, author and artist has made her mark on this region, and we are excited by the prospect of her sharing her talent as a writer with the rest of the state, disseminating the gift of poetry to all.
She is co-author of “Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota,” which won two Minnesota Book Awards. Her poetry collection “Follow the Blackbirds” is written in English and Dakota. Her poems and essays have been published in journals and anthologies across the country.
We are lucky to have her in Mankato, and now more Minnesotans will get a chance to witness her talent and love for the written word as she demonstrates how poetry is available to everyone who takes time to notice it in their lives.
A heart restart
Thumbs up to the quick and effective response last Friday by two athletic team trainers and a nurse in the stands at the St. Peter-Waseca high school football game.
Waseca’s head coach, Brad Wendland, collapsed in the final seconds of the game and went into cardiac arrest. The two team trainers and the nurse hurried to his aid and managed to restart his heart. Wendland was conscious during his trip to the hospital and was back home by Tuesday.
It was a remarkable event. Few people survive cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. That Wendland, 48, did is testimony to the effective immediate response he was fortunate to receive.
Wendland said this week he will be preaching the virtues of CPR training and defibrillators to all who will listen. That combination saved his life. It was a job well done by all involved.
Goodbye Mr. Lee
Thumbs up to Virginia officials for finally removing an enormous statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a pedestal where it has towered over Virginia’s capital city for more than a century.
While Gov. Ralph Northam ordered it removed last year, there was opposition and it took a court battle to finally clear the way for removal of one of America’s largest monuments to the Confederacy.
Clearing the statue from Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, should not have taken this long. Like other Confederate symbols it represented hate, slavery, racism and honored the treasonous leader Lee.