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Letter writers react to Barn Bluff painting

In response to complaints lodged to the city about a Prince tribute that appeared on Barn Bluff shortly after the Minnesota artist's death, Red Wing Public Works painted black blocks over the mural. Residents woke up to a freshly-painted tribute Wednesday morning, which was still on the bluff Friday. (photo by Maureen McMullen)

Letter: Stop painting the bluff

In my opinion, painting words or symbols on the bluff is akin to making a loud noise in an otherwise quiet area like a library. It is jarring and crude in its ability to garner public attention, but not necessarily the kind of attention we want. If anything, it devalues our naturally stunning bluffs.

I do not think the issue is the kind of word or message that is imparted — whether it be a hearty endorsement of local sports or a tribute to a presidential candidate or music icon — because it detracts from the natural beauty of the landscape.

And what about this business about how painting the bluff has been a “tradition?” I think a new precedent should be set where we protect our sacred landscape instead of treating it like a common billboard.

Carrie Allen, Red Wing


Letter: Have free speech, city policy collided?

In Minnesota’s state Constitution, Article I, Bill of Rights, Section 3 states “The liberty of the press shall forever remain inviolate, and all persons may freely speak, write and publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of such right.”

In light of so sweeping a guarantee, it seems that on the local level, the city of Red Wing is the custodian of that guarantee. This factor opens a number of questions. Is an expression painted on the rock tablet of Barn Bluff public speech and therefore protected by Section 3?

If so, what is the specific policy in regard to this expression and how does its application protect such expression?

If one complaint is also speech even without publication, what gives that complaint more right to prevail over the previous statement?

All this makes me wonder if such city policy applies only to the Barn Bluff situation or to all public property where free speech takes place – parks, streets, sidewalks, city hall or the public library.

These questions are complex enough so that reaching a legitimate and supportive conclusion requires earnest work. Certainly plenty of legal precedent exists. Nevertheless, we find it bizarre that someone would object to the benign nature of Prince’s glyph and his dates, and we don’t even get to know why.

Roger & Patricia Sween, Maplewood, Minn.


Letter: Please preserve our natural wonderland

I am very disappointed to know that the city of Red Wing has again failed to take action against the defacing of a priceless geological and historical wonder of nature, Barn Bluff.

An act of destruction, repeated continuously since 1958, does not make it a “tradition.” It is a crime.

Barn Bluff is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There should be no waffling over what is or is not appropriate for graffiti on Barn Bluff because there should be no defacing of any U.S. historical site. Is it permissible to paint graffiti on the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial or on the walls of the Grand Canyon or the Badlands?

The history of the bluffs alongside the Mississippi River in both Wisconsin and Minnesota and down into Iowa and Illinois, goes back millions of years. Half a million years ago, the glaciers slowly came to a grinding halt in the Mississippi River Valley. This process took several million years and it resulted in huge masses of sedimentary rock and soil piling up into huge mounds — or bluffs, as we call them. We are living in the midst of a geological wonderland.

If people feel so strongly about publicizing their grief, tributes or whatever, they have the option of painting it on their own property. These same people would be the first to call the police if anyone did to their property what is being done to that bluff.

The bluffs do not represent the people in Red Wing. Millions of people have come and gone in the Mississippi River Valley since man first arrived on this continent, over 10,000 years ago. And those bluffs will still be there, long after everyone has forgotten that Trump, Prince, and you and I ever existed.

But not if destructive humans continue to contribute to the erosion. And some “adults” in this city have absolutely no respect for that.

Do you really believe that Prince would approve of this? I think not. He was a humanitarian and philanthropist. And a devotee of all things regarding Minnesota

Judith Hansen, Red Wing

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