Readers Write: Winston Smith, Gun Violence, January 6 Hearings, Twin Metals Mining Proposal

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What can only be described as a tribute to Winston Boogie Smith Jr. has troubled this solidly center-left liberal (“A Death Winston Smith Saw Coming,” June 5). I fully agree that racist killings by law enforcement have happened repeatedly in the black community and should be brought to light. Was Winston Smith one of them, and was a special public honor of his life in this journal justified?

It has been said that “our lives are the sum total of the choices we have made”. Smith was his own worst enemy. According to the article, he chose to commit a “long series of crimes”. Then he chose to commit a felony, aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to four years in prison, but the judge gave him the gift of reducing his sentence to three years of probation. Smith chose to waste this gift. He chose not to report for a subsequent 30-day labor term. He chose to post death threats on social media, encouraging others to “kill those dirty cops”. He chose to own a handgun even though it is illegal for a criminal to own a firearm. When police attempted to arrest Smith for possession of a firearm, he chose to flee and led police on a high-speed chase. He chose not to appear for his conviction for possession of firearms. On the day of his death, his worst choice may have been to not follow orders from law enforcement to get out of his car, opting instead to brandish his gun.

On the day of Smith’s death, law enforcement encountered a felon who had a history of making death threats against cops, running from police, disobeying court orders, and who was known to own a firearm. In light of all this, who could argue that the show of force by law enforcement that day was unwarranted? Smith’s choices had proven time and time again that he was a danger to himself and a threat to others. It was time to get him off the streets safely, but sadly, a long series of bad choices led to his inevitable death.

Steve Millikan, Minneapolis

FIREARMS VIOLENCE

The entire nation now has gun violence on its mind. A good first step. What took you so long? However, David Banks’ comment on long gun violence – ‘No stranger to guns, but no good with them’ on June 5 – ignores the 800-pound beast in the room : assault rifles and their ilk. He trivializes it by recounting how, as a child, he had a fake military-style rifle.

Unfortunately, that’s the core problem, with handguns that can carry a dozen or more cop-killing bullets. I say this after being a crime and courts reporter for the Star Tribune for most of my 27 years at the paper. Here’s a stat I’d like to see reported: How many times has an assault rifle successfully stopped a break-in or violent assault?

There’s an old but true saw in newsroom culture: follow the money. This applies to this debate on gun violence. How many politicians are willing to ignore or deflect the assault rifle and handgun magazine issue because they are more selfish than public servants? And how long are we going to let politicians of all parties get campaign money without knowing who is buying it? And who makes money giving America the weapons to create a crisis? Inquiring minds want to know.

Paul Gustafson, Minneapolis

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Thursday’s testimony by Officer Caroline Edwards of the United States Capitol Police during the hearing into the January 6, 2021 attack was compelling and powerful. Some have made the point by comparing the performance of the Capitol police to that of the officers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. That’s a fair point and, like many people, I’m really disappointed with the Uvalde police. But I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers showed up at the Capitol with AR-15s. The horror of that day would have been infinitely worse. Who’s to stop them from coming fully armed next time?

Denise Eng, St. Louis Park

DOUBLE METALS PROPOSAL

As a former head of the US Forest Service who initially refused to renew Twin Metals leases at the edge of the Boundary Waters canoe zone due to the risk posed to this irreplaceable wilderness, I read the counterpoint with interest Julie Padilla’s June 5 op-ed “Has some other facts for the mining debate. Her assertion that “the Twin Metals project will not negatively impact the BWCA. It legally can’t, and it won’t by design” caught my attention because that’s the kind of pablum that mining companies always say, and they always fail to deliver.

Here’s a disturbing fact for Twin Metals: A 2012 study of the water quality impacts of 14 operating copper and sulfide ore mines in the United States found that 100% of mines experienced pipeline or accidental releases and that 13 out of 14 mines failed to control contamination. mining seepage, causing adverse effects on water quality. Despite assurances to the contrary.

In a 2019 update to the report, records reflecting the performance of 15 U.S. copper mines were reviewed and it was found that 14 of the top 15 copper mines (93%) failed to capture and control sewage, which has had significant impacts on water quality. Recently, a report on five hard rock mines in Alaska, some identified as “model” mines by Twin Metals, documented 8,150 spills from 1995 to 2020.

This is the challenge of mining. Even with the best designs and best efforts, spills and leaks do happen. Mining takes place in the natural environment, not in a controlled factory. The boundary waters are too important to take risks.

Tom Tidwell, McCall, Idaho

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I am a licensed professional geophysicist. Since 2009, I have been examining the potential of mining proposals in the Duluth complex to produce pollution, including, but not limited to, acid mine drainage (AMD). Contrary to recent talking points by Padilla, an executive at mining company Twin Metals, the Duluth complex contains disseminated metal sulphides that have been shown to generate acid. If built, Twin Metals has the potential to generate AMD.

The risks have been well known for decades, by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Minnesota state agencies and mining companies. AMD still occurs at the nearby, now closed, Dunka mine, where millions of tons of rock from the Duluth complex have been blasted and stockpiled and have leached AMD since at least the early 1970s. To neutralize the acid, drainage from Dunka Mine still carries sulphate and dissolved metals at concentrations hundreds of times greater than background levels in northeast Minnesota.

Water contamination from mine waste can still be an unforeseen problem, despite all the planning involved, money spent and good intentions. There is no 100% guarantee that AMD will not cause offsite contamination.

The Twin Metals deposits contain sulphides at higher concentrations than other deposits in the Duluth complex and would be expected to produce the same contaminants at higher rates and concentrations in mine drainage. more likely to be acidic. Suggestions that we can guarantee the prevention of AMD do not represent the risks of AMD and the caution needed to protect the watershed of boundary waters.

David M. Chambers, Bozeman, Mont.

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