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LET Rally for Nonviolence featured more than just sheriff's comments

By Chuck Handlon

As a primary speaker at the May 27 Rally for Nonviolence I would like to explain the circumstances that caused Olmsted County Sheriff Steve Borchardt to criticize the rally.

When the rally began I spoke from a prepared text but failed to read it "verbatim." What follows is what I had said with the line I wrote but missed saying in parenthesis.

"We are not here to condemn or condone Mr. Barrett's action. Calvin Barret is a victim of gun violence. (Not so much from the deputy who acted in the way he was trained.) Calvin is a victim of the myth that guns can solve anything or are the answer to our difficulties."

I was thrown off by Sheriff Borchardt's comments and failed to mention that the Southeast Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers did send Deputy Christensen a card while he was in the hospital. In this card I expressed sadness about the tragedy and sentiments for a speedy and full recovery. I also stated that the Alliance is working to prevent future tragedies like this from re-occurring.

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However, I am disappointed the Post-Bulletin chose to report Borchardt's comments as worthy enough of a separate article with its own headline and missed mentioning other speakers. Century High School student Marissa Knodel spoke very eloquently. Rochester councilwoman Sandra Means also made comments.

I now find myself expending energy explaining actions rather than working to fight the real "enemy" -- violence in our community. If you are interested in helping in this effort I suggest you look over the SE MN Alliance of Peacemakers Web site (www.semnpeacemakers.org)

In closing here are some comments from my prepared text which I know I did say:

"Wouldn't it be great to wake up one day and then in the evening's Post-Bulletin see a headline which reads: "No violence occurred today!" Is it possible? Maybe. Is it worth working for? Definitely.

Chuck Handlon is a Rochester resident.

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