A friend cautioned me last week not to write about the fires, looting and protesting that followed the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis policeman on May 25. "You can't win," the friend said, with good reason.
So I didn't. But. on second thought, maybe a few words this week.
There are plenty of strange things that happened during that week, not the least of which were statements by veteran anchors and reporters that were quite critical of Mayor Jacob Frey and Gov. Tim Walz. Why weren't they doing anything, some asked. And then, when the National Guard, state troopers and other law enforcement personnel were called in to beef up the presence after a couple horrible nights of fires and looting, some of those same people asked if having such a large contingent of people trying to keep the peace was necessary. I couldn't figure that one out.
And then there was Mayor Frey fanning the flames — oh, that's right, I wasn't going to go there. And Gov. Walz — oops, not going there either. And then police union chief Bob Kroll — I'll let that one go also, although it's hard to do.
The biggest takeaway for me, other than the horrendous incident that precipitated the whole thing and cast the eyes of the world on Minnesota, was that many critics were willing to paint people on both sides — protesters and law enforcement — with too broad a brush.
Painting with a broad brush is defined, at least by me, as lumping everyone of a particular group or occupation together.
If you look it up in one of the sources available on the internet, it's defined as "to describe something in general terms without mentioning specific details and without paying attention to individual variations." There are other similar meanings available.
And that's what happened.
There were many protesters who played by the rules and didn't burn buildings or loot. And there are lots of good cops in the world, many, I'm sure, in Minneapolis. But here were people saying the looters and arsonists were doing the right thing, forgetting about all the others who didn't. And there were plenty of critics who let it be known that their feeling is that all cops are bad.
Let me be clear: What happened to George Floyd was beyond reprehensible. He wasn't resisting. He was begging for his life. And yet veteran policeman Derek Chauvin did what he did, as the bystander's phone video shows. There's no excuse for what happened.
It was heartening on Thursday when some Minneapolis police officers, many of them prominent in the department, issued a letter saying they wholeheartedly condemn what Chauvin did. The letter noted that the signees were from all ranks in the Minneapolis Police Department. "This is not who we are," they wrote, saying they were ready for change, reform and rebuilding.
It was not heartening earlier in the week to hear that Minneapolis City Council members want to "abolish" or "defund" the Minneapolis Police Department. Restructure it? Yes. But wiping out a police department is, at best, an ill-advised solution. Would you, a six-decade, older fan of the Minnesota Twins for example, drive in from Wanamingo, or Lake Benton, or Osakis, or Granite Ledge Township in Benton County, to attend a night game, and then walk a few blocks to your car, if there was no police department
I won't pretend I have the answers to remedy the situation. But it's a watershed moment for Minneapolis. A good start for meaningful reform could begin as early as today (June 12) when the Minnesota Legislature begins a special session. The Star Tribune noted in an editorial today that legislators in New York state met with their governor last weekend and quickly passed "a comprehensive set of reforms."
Wouldn't it be refreshing if there was a good bipartisan effort to start things on the right track in Minnesota that didn't include name-calling?
I know, that would be another Minnesota Miracle. But it's badly needed
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
June 17, 1965 - George Sanford, Mike Rajala and Frank Kosloski were the winning pitchers as the Legion baseball team won three games, Sanford shutting out Mora 1-0 . . . Santiago beat Princeton in town team baseball, 22-1, as Princeton pitchers issued 22 walks. Bill Jenson and Luther Dorr homered for Santiago and winning pitcher Dorr struck out 16 in seven innings.
June 17, 1970 - Mike Barg and Al Miller drove in two runs apiece in a 14-1 win over North Branch in Legion baseball as Tom Meyer pitched a two-hitter and struck out 12 . . . Dale Thiel had a three-run triple in a 6-5 town team win over division leader Foley.
June 18, 1975 - Dan Kne struck out 13 in a 2-1 town team win over Rush City . . . Pat Tierney and Stu Remus homered as Princeton beat Cambridge in Legion baseball, 6-0 and 4-1, Pete Steinhagen and Keith Julson getting the wins.
June 19, 1980 - .Les Nelson pitched a five-hitter and struck out 11 in a 7-2 win over Pine City. Nelson and Dale Perbix each had three hits . . . Seventh-grader Jay Perbix had a hole in one at Rum River Golf Club . . . The Ziggy's slow pitch softball team, after having to forfeit its first game because of a scheduling mix-up, won eight straight games before losing and finished third in a two-day 40-team tournament at Blaine. The team was second in the Rum River Festival tournament in Princeton the previous weekend with a 7-2 record.
June 20, 1985 - Mickey Branchaud and Chad Campbell were all-conference in baseball . . . Branchaud pitched a four-hit shutout over Shakopee in a Legion baseball tournament at Cottage Grove and Branchaud (3-run homer) and Mack Savage each drove in three runs.
June 20, 1990 - Karla Kingsley and Bobbi Koelman played in the high school all-star softball series . . . A shutout string reached 13 innings for Matt Skarohlid in a 10-0 Legion baseball win over St. Francis as Troy Kinney drove in five runs . . . Skarohlid, Kinney and Curt Wilson were all-conference in baseball.
June 22, 1995 - John Vollan beat Cambridge 8-1 and Hinckley 2-1 as the Legion baseball team got off to a 4-0 start . . . In a battle of unbeaten teams the Forest Lake Lakers beat the Princeton Panthers 7-3, and then Chad Campbell drove in five runs in a 9-4 win over the Forest Lake Brewers as Jamie Cox got a complete-game win.
June 16, 2000 - Ian McVey had a jump of 6'7" that earned the PHS athlete third place in the high jump at the state track meet, while teammate Perrin Werner placed sixth in the shot put . . . The Princeton Panthers beat rival Hinckley 15-5 as Brian Dorr (two homers) and Tony Stay (homer) each drove in three runs, and then beat Mora 10-4, after trailing 4-2, as Stay (5 hits, 7 RBIs) hit three homers and Mark Beattie hit one.
June 23, 2005 - Playing four games in six days, the Princeton Panthers won all four and improved to 7-0 in league play. There was a 6-2 win over Hinckley, 4-2 over Cambridge, 5-4 over Chisago Lakes and 1-0 over Mora as Jason Miller pitched a five-hit shutout and the Panthers beat Josh Oslin, a University of Minnesota pitcher. The other wins went to Luke Bakken, Jesse Zimmer and reliever Tony Stay. Zimmer had eight hits in the first three games and Chad Campbell was 3 for 3 and drove in the only run against Mora in the fourth game.
June 24, 2010 - PHS senior Taylor Murphy tied for 10th at the state high school golf tournament. His score of 75 the first day and 74 the second day earned him the tie. He played in the state tournament three of his last four years on the PHS team . . . The Legion baseball team placed second in its tournament, beating Rogers 14-4 and the St Cloud 76ers 5-3 before losing 8-5 to Cooper in the title game. Josh Hanus and Josh Vickers were the winning pitchers and Brent Miodus drove in five runs in the three games.
June 18, 2015 - A plan to build four new fields for middle school baseball and softball adjacent to the new elementary school hit a snag because of a disagreement about roads between the school district and Princeton Township. The township wanted the district to pave gravel roads in that area, with an estimate of about $250,000 as the cost.
(Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years) and has covered sports in the area for the past 53 years.)