Readers Write: Amir Locke shooting, Tesla, taxing Social Security


The world has lost its mind.

Police should know by now that conducting a no-knock entry (“Video shows fatal raid by police,” front page, Feb. 4) before 7 a.m, with glaring lights and shouted profanities and commands, can trigger a defensive response by almost anyone. Certainly they shouldn’t expect immediate compliance from a person who had apparently been asleep when they entered. The element of surprise may favor the safety of the officers, but it inevitably endangers the occupants.

Police also should understand that there is a substantial chance that someone other than the target may be in the home, as was the case here.

Yet they went charging in here and shot a man in lawful possession of a weapon, a man who was not their target or a suspect in the investigation. Obviously, the man must have had a gun handy for his own protection, as he was entitled to do. Why he may have slept with a gun is irrelevant at the moment. His death was the direct result of the choices made and actions taken by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Odds are the officers involved will not be charged under these circumstances or disciplined in any way, even though they skirted the minimal requirements for a no-knock entry by announcing their presence only after they’d set foot in the apartment.

Though I can’t feel the depths of anger and fear this may generate in my son and other people of color, I can and do feel fear every day for his safety in a world where innocence and the protection of the innocent is not even a consideration in police actions.

James M. Hamilton, St. Paul

•••

The Star Tribune article “Video shows fatal raid by police,” on the killing of Amir Locke, claims “Minneapolis restricted the practice” of no-knock warrants, “but [it] is still occasionally used in certain cases.” This is misleading. Prior to 2020, the city has executed an average of 139 such warrants a year. But according to a September MinnPost article, between November 2020 and August 2021 the city obtained 90 no-knock warrants. That’s hardly a reduction. Questioned on the discrepancy between apparent policies restricting their use, Mayor Jacob Frey said, “What this policy did was to produce a very objective and clear line, which says: The announcement has to be made prior to the breach of the threshold. That’s the change.”

Minneapolis has not reduced the use of no-knock warrants. At best, it has taken a baby step toward clarifying rules but not made any real improvements. [Opinion editor’s note: City leaders on Friday announced a moratorium on all no-knock warrants pending a review of the MPD’s policy.]

Satish Desai, Minneapolis

•••

Having seen the video of MPD officers entering an apartment and killing Amir Locke, and reading about it on the Star Tribune’s website, I had many questions come up. The setting was described as occurring Wednesday morning, before 7 a.m., in a dark apartment (other than police lights), with Locke under a blanket. What I hear in the bodycam video is a lot of police officers yelling — yelling over one another very quickly. The officers’ words sound garbled. Was Locke sound asleep when the officers entered? What is Locke hearing? What is Locke thinking if he is just waking up? Does he know that these are police officers in the apartment? How can the officers expect a person to comprehend their commands if the person is sound asleep? How long does it take the person to understand what is going on? The person’s first instinct is that there is a threat happening against them.

This is not the first time that I’ve listened to the audio of police bodycam videos and heard commands that are so loud, quick, garbled and incomprehensible.

Decades ago, I was sound asleep on a train going through East Germany when an East German guard entered my sleeping car at night and woke me (asking for a passport). It took some time (half a minute to a minute) to figure out who this person was in my sleeping car and what was going on. My first instinct was that there was a serious threat. It was scary.

Peter Berglund, St. Paul

TESLA

In Wednesday’s paper there was an Associated Press article headlined “Tesla recall due to software problem” with a sub-headline stating ” … feature will bring back 54,000 vehicles.” Actually reading the article allowed me to understand that there is no software “problem” but instead the headline is referring to an optional software feature intentionally designed into the automobiles. Also, not a single vehicle will be brought back anywhere, but instead the feature will be removed using an over-the-air update of software in the vehicle (this was incorrectly referred to in the article as over-the-internet). The article also referenced a professor of electrical and computer engineering regarding the purpose of four-way stop signs. Why not talk to … maybe … a traffic engineer for this expertise?

This type of article seems to continue a trend of looking for bad things to say about Tesla vehicles. No other manufacturer can update the software running the vehicle over-the-air or without coming back to the dealer. Instead of calling it a “problem,” why not highlight how Tesla is able to update over 50,000 vehicles to remove a feature it discussed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and determined was not safe — so the company is removing it? The owners of these vehicles are not inconvenienced and, in fact, will have a “safer” vehicle in a couple of weeks. That is saying a lot because Tesla vehicles are already among the safest on the road! (The NHTSA website shows all four current Tesla models have five-star safety ratings.)

Paul Davis, Woodbury

TAX CUTS

Wow, good for Steven Dornfeld if he really doesn’t need a tax cut (“Retirees like me don’t need, or deserve, a tax cut,” Opinion Exchange, Feb. 4). I’m also a retired baby boomer, and I most certainly could use the elimination of all taxes on Social Security. There’s a reason 38 other states do not tax it. As for worrying about our children in their 30s, ours are better off at their age than we were back in the day, even with their student loans to pay. How many retirees move out of Minnesota just to not have to pay taxes on Social Security, which takes even more than just those taxes out of the state? My wife and I may be following them soon.

Mike Prieve, Lino Lakes

•••

Are you kidding, Steven Dornfeld? There are retirees who on a daily basis must make the most basic choices: rent, food or medication. These individuals worked and led responsible lives, but the government cut them few if any tax breaks. The recent Social Security increase is laughable. Let’s see, what can I spend my newly gained wealth on?

Maybe I will splurge on a hardcover book rather than a paperback.

Ursula Krawczyk, Roseville

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