Protests need to lead to policy changes

Mike KnaakLetter to the Editor, Print Sartell - St. StephenLeave a Comment

Leona Wieland, Sartell

“That America has become great on the backs of the poor,” has been quoted at times and continues to this day.

Four hundred and one years of slavery. Supposedly slavery ended on June 19, 1865, when President Lincoln told General Granger to pass the words along. Who forgot to pass those words along in ensuing years to, e.g. the whole community at Black Wall Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where massacre of 300 happened in 1921? What about the 1964 Civil Rights Acts, signed by President Johnson? When was that supposed to happen, since even more today, communities of black are disenfranchised when it comes to voting? These incidences bring to mind the treaties, our “contracts” with Native Americans. Have any of them been honored?  When will we honor and put “walk with talk?” Some are forgetting, while others will not listen and/or deliberately choose to not make the changes for life, liberty, equality for all possible. 

I’m ashamed of the profiling and military police brutality. I’m surprised at those who wish to delay in making changes necessary, yet life and lives, businesses and property continue to be wasted. Justice delayed is justice denied.

If people can’t see or believe we have problems, then how much more bad will happen? Denying people their human rights is wrong. When some can stand up, be fed at the trough of excess, as what my husband used to say when referring to greed; while others only get crumbs or less is deplorable. Jesus, could you tell again the stories of Lazarus, the Good Samaritan, the father with two sons, the woman who put in two coins.

What are we to do in Central Minnesota? As cities with churches, businesses and homes burn, how much longer will we allow inequality, whether in housing with denying where people can live, in education where funds aren’t evenly spent, where color was against you in applying for jobs? 

Social controls have increased as social investment has declined. I appreciated the column about Two Minnesotas. Who would have known those stats? “Spirit Level” by Wilkinson & Pickett, was a great eye-opener a few years ago. No one seems to have updated that publication, so I appreciate the latest numbers from Robert Reich. On Inequality Media, he posts:

• A 500 percent increase of 2.2 million people locked up in our prisons.

• Spending on policing in U.S. has tripled, from $42 billion to $114 billion in the last 40 years.

• 15 states spend $27,000/per prisoner more than what is spent per student on education.

• $107.5 billion more on policing than on public housing.

• Military spending went from $437 billion in 2003 to $936 billion in 2020.

• Fewer people receiving food stamps, public health care and unemployment benefits.

We have yet to imagine what “shoes others walk in.” Protest complaints need to move toward policy changes. As families, small businesses, states and tribal nations suffer with the pandemic and these social problems, I think Congress needs to pass the Heroes Act. It used to be that one-fourth of every income tax dollar was spent on military. Now is the time to pass the second bill, Heroes Act, and help our families, our small businesses, states and tribal nations. The investment of $3 trillion would be worth every penny, choosing a way out of our original sin of slavery. Let us hold our elected leaders accountable to create the changes needed. Lead us with collective consciousness that if our country is to stay free and true to its preamble, each person should be treated equally as each is part of the whole USA.

Author: Mike Knaak

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