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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The time for coexistence, respect is here

Not one, but three indigenous men were murdered at the hands of police officers in the state of Minnesota within three weeks of each other, two of those deaths were hours apart, in the month of November. Indigenous men and women are under attack from law enforcement agencies across the country.

Indigenous men and women are 3.1 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a white person. We are being treated as if we don't exist, as if we don't matter. The fears of being shot or targeted by police because of the color of my skin is very real; it is very alive here in Minnesota. From traffic stops to mental health crisis calls, indigenous people are more likely to be shot than to receive the help that they need. The senseless killing of Vernon May has many in this county fearful for their own lives when they leave their homes. It should not be like this. We have outstanding officers who do their job, but then we have those who feel they can use that badge to intimidate and harass us. That is wrong, and it is going to be called out.

The time of coexistence with us is here, the time to respect us is here, our voices will not be silenced any longer. I have a very ill feeling when I think of what troubles come our way when the pipeline arrives. The trouble has already begun for many. Constant traffic stops on indigenous-occupied vehicles has already begun. The constant deadly use of force on indigenous people has already begun. The question is, will it stop? Will the police give us the respect we deserve, or will they continue to brutally shoot us down in the streets because of their fears? Because the color of our skin?

Why does it seem like we don't matter. Our existence here feels sub-human, feels like we are living in a country that hates who we are. Can we be treated as human beings and get the same respect and treatment as those who are not a person of color?

David Eischens

Bemidji

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