Thursday, February 21, 2008

St. Paul City Council Chooses More Weapons for Police Over Summer Programs for its Youth

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press 02/21/2008 12:22:09 AM CST :

“In a financial public hearing that turned into a referendum on the weapon, the St. Paul City Council gave the green light for the police department to spend $210,000 in seized drug money to buy 234 Tasers. That vote was 6-1, with Council Member Melvin Carter III voting against.

But moments before, a move intended to reroute the money and spend it on summer crime prevention programs failed 4-3. Council Member Lee Helgen authored the move, and Carter and Council Member Russ Stark backed it.”

Hopefully for their sake, St. Paul City Council members Bostrom, Harris, Lantry and Thune, won’t someday look back and regret the choice they made yesterday, either because some citizen lies dead due to the unnecessary use of a Taser by a member of the St. Paul Police Department or because one of the city’s young people got mixed up with drugs, gangs and/or crime because of a lack of summer youth programs. Sadly, it is not very likely because the type of person who would choose to spend more money on weapons for the police department over summer programs for the city’s disadvantaged youth are most likely the same caliber of cynics who never see the consequences of their own actions because they are too busy pointing their privileged fingers of blame at others.

I find it ironic but not unusual that it was the son of a cop and the only person of color on the council, Melvin Carter III, who represents Ward 1, that had the background, experience and wisdom to be the sole vote in opposition to the eventual decision to spend the people’s money on more Tasers for the police. But I must say, hats off to Council Member Helgen who authored the progressive plan and Council Members Stark and the aforementioned Carter, who supported the alternative to spend the $210,000 in drug forfeiture monies on something peaceful and constructive instead of perpetuating the violence and destructiveness from which the monies came.

Unfortunately, just like this country’s foreign policy, we would rather spend money on weapons systems than on programs which project our soft power and are often much more effective.

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