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Tribune Editorial: The time for change is here for Minnesota

Summary: We all must work toward change to end racism and engage all communities of our state.

Minnesota Opinion editorial
Minnesota Opinion editorial
West Central Tribune graphic

The tragic murder of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department will likely never be forgotten β€” nor should it. The voices of people of color and the oppression they suffer have been ignored for too long.

The reality of the aftermath β€” looting, violence, arson, destruction and heated rhetoric β€” created more harm and pain for many residents and communities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Fortunately, calmer heads have prevailed and peaceful protesters have embraced Martin Luther King Jr.'s strategy to use the power of words and nonviolent resistance to seek badly needed change.

Our communities, our state and our country are hurting. Communities of color have been crying out for many decades and many have not been listening.

Minnesota and America have a long way to go to resolve the issues of race and racism in our country. It is time we start.

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The time has come for all to start listening to concerns of the communities of color . We all have to learn to listen better and to engage in meaningful dialogue and strive for a better understanding of all concerns.

Unfortunately, the rioters and looters took over the narrative of Floyd's murder in Minneapolis for several days. The universal outrage over his death was severely overshadowed by the shock over the actions of rioters and looters in Minneapolis, St. Paul and around the country. These rioters and looters dishonored the cause and memory of Floyd.

It is the right of individuals of all communities in America to speak up and peacefully protest on issues of importance to them. It is a protected right under the First Amendment.

Peaceful protesters in west central Minnesota β€” Willmar, Montevideo, Redwood Falls and elsewhere β€” have gathered, marched and spoken out against the harm of police brutality and racism that in 8 minutes and 46 seconds took Floyd's life.

And they did so in a peaceful and respectful way without violence, without rioting and without looting. Kudos to each one.

So what is the message of recent weeks for our communities, our state and our country?

First, racism and oppression have long been part of our state and country's history. It will not be solved overnight but the need for consistent and persistent changes moving forward is here.

Second, these changes are not so insurmountable that they can not be achieved. But we must start now β€” not next year or next decade. The time for change is now.

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Third, there needs to be a review of the culture within police departments across the country and how those departments engage their respective communities β€” viewing residents as part of their communities or viewing residents as the enemy. In addition, the protectionist mentality of contracts and policies have enabled bad police officers to continue operating without sufficient accountability. The case of Derek Chauvin, one of the police officers charged in Floyd's murder, is a prime example. Such individuals are a disgrace to their profession.

The vast majority of law enforcement personnel work continuously to serve and protect their respective communities. Here in Willmar, Kandiyohi County and much of our region are positive examples of law enforcement staff engaged in their communities and working daily to serve and protect. We thank them for their continued service and taking the risk daily to protect our communities. s

We do not have all the answers. We suspect no one does.

But the time for change in Minnesota and across America is here. And these changes need to begin now. The time to recognize the pain, frustration and fear of others β€” especially those in communities of color β€” is here. The time to listen, avoid overreaction and strive for better understanding is here.

If we do not begin making needed changes now, the historical cycle of racism, violence and pain in Minnesota and America will continue. We cannot sit still and let the shame of racism continue to raise its ugly head without resistance. Until we start moving forward through conversations and listening, there will be no chance for meaningful change, worthwhile healing and credible progress for our future.

This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune Editorial Board of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.

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