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2006 Blog Entries
September ~ Entries #30 -#32

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September 2006 Blog entries 30 - 32

9-12-06, #32: Déjà vu of killing again: two white officers kill a 27year old unarmed African American at 38th and Bloomington.


We shake our head in both knowing disbelief of another young Black man shot by police and we shake our head in saddened belief that the Mayor and City Council and State government really don't mind that yet another young Black man was shot by the Minneapolis Police.

As in any situation like this, there were extenuating circumstances. In this case, the 27 year old Black man was having some kind of nervous breakdown, and he had reached for one of the policeman's guns, but it was wrestled clear of him. He had no gun when he was shot.

That he was having a mental problem is clear from the 911 calls to police. Here is what is not clear: how is it that the MPD has 42 officers trained to deal with those mentally unstable in such a situation and none were sent? Why, with the existence of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) "critical incident protocol," it wasn't followed? How is it that this young man, unarmed, who was only 5 feet tall and weighing only130 pounds, could not be subdued by taser or beanbag, which regulations call for to be used first? And if not that, why wasn't he stopped by shooting him in the leg?

It is sadly ironic that this occurred after the Police Community Relations Council, established by the Justice Department, met to discuss police-community relations and reaction response procedures.

For our inner cities, including Minneapolis, we hear the refrains of the old Plantation chant, "How long, O Lord, how long?" Details will follow.

In the meantime, it will help many, Black and White, to revisit Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, and to review Jawanza Kunjufu's book, State of Emergency: We Must Save African American Males .

In our book, columns and "Tracking the Gaps" blog, we focus on the question of what to do to stem the "disappearing" of young Black males to being jailed or killed. The solutions outlined in our book are simple: let them get educated, let them be employed, and allow for decent housing. Minneapolis' response is too often bag'em and tag'em, shoot them or jail them. Liberals holler about Iraq and shout "give peace a chance." We ask, again, why not give our people of color in our cities a chance? The well being of the cities of America depend on that.

We ask why Minneapolis won't give our solutions for closing the gaps in education, jobs and housing a chance, and we ask why Minneapolis won't attempt any of the 7 key themes to help resolve the problems of our "inner city," and give our city and its people a chance, to positively and inclusively resolve the problems of blocked equal access and blocked equal opportunity? As Martin Luther King has said, "The longer our people see no progress, or halting progress, the easier it will be for them to yield to the counsels of hatred and demagoguery," matching that of whites who continue to block good education, good jobs and good housing for those African Americans in the inner city, and instead harass and shoot unarmed young Black males to death.
Posted 9-21-06, 7:40 a.m. Edited 9:40 p.m.

9-12-06, #31: Congratulations Keith Ellison. History and Comeuppance. "On the verge"! Congratulations to the Citizens of the 5th Congressional District: You have sent a powerful message electing Keith Ellison in today's primary.

The headine in the Strib online is clear: DFL FIFTH DISTRICT: ELLISON WINS.

At a pivotal time in our history, this is a pivotal decision of the voters. As the 5 th Congressional District is heavily DFL, indeed is the state's most reliably Democratic district, Keith Ellison should have no trouble winning in November. And that means turning two new pages in the Minnesota history book: First , he is on the verge of being the first Black person from Minnesota elected to Congress (ironic, is it not, that this will happen while the Republicans are in charge, and never when it was all DFL all the time everywhere?).

Secondly, he is on the verge of being the first Muslim ever elected to Congress . Keith Ellison became a Muslim long before there was an Al Queda or a war on terror. He stands in the progressive liberal tradition of Paul Wellstone. He seeks to bring all into the flow of our society, to help, to use the title of a new book, complete the post Civil War project of reconstruction that still awaits completion in the inner cities and rural areas of America.

After the DFL has so long doublecrossed the voters, especially Black voters, they have now gotten their comeuppance, as the voters have risen up and double-crossed the DFL, as it were, by electing Keith Ellison. White DFL Minnesota played the race card, the ethnic card, the religion car, and the politics of personal destruction card against Keith.

The voters didn't want to play with this deck of cards. Nontheless, we can still expect more cards in the general election, as campaign tactics are poised to turn ugly.

Doug Grow titled his column, Ellison rejuvenated by supporters, Wellstone (he visited his grave during the campaign for inspiration).

And so, wrote, Grow, Ellison, "so often compared to Wellstone," was supported by "Old, young, black, white, Hmong, Somali, Hispanic, political rookies, old pols, peace activists, environmentalists, labor leaders," and, most tellingly, those before prone not to vote (as his supporters were "pounding doors in precincts with traditionally very low primary turnout. Some ... as little as 2 percent in past primaries." To use the words of a voter quoted in Grow's column, "This is like Paul and like Hubert." It is ironic that the heart and soul of the Democratic party in Minnesota is no longer carried by a White suburban Christian, but is carried instead by a Black inner city Muslim. Posted 9-13-06, 12:45 a.m.

9-6-06, #30: Community needs to "step up" as Mayor, like the DFL, steps aside from Black citizens, accepts violence, sees a Baghdad solution, as he uses Democratic Convention seeking as a job interview.

Innocents are murdered again. A young, 25 year old citizen crime fighter, Lorenzo Cotto, was assassinated near the Sharing and Caring house where he worked to help others turn their lives around by getting off of drugs, and a 15 year old "A" student is killed because others wanted his jersey. In these two wanton acts, many lives are altered.

As Minneapolis burns the Mayor fiddles with lobbying efforts for a Democratic National Convention here is 2008. It makes one wonder what next job he is lobbying to trade up for. To be sure we've had mayors qualified to move up before. But RT Rybak is no Hubert Humphrey.

As reported in the Strib Wednesday, Help sought in finding Minneapolis boy's killers, police joined with community leaders to ask the killers to step forth now and, if not, for residents to step forth with information leading to their capture. We can't succeed as a community if we won't stand up for the community. The mayor won't. The City Council won't. The DFL won't. We must. Regardless of what others refuse to do, we must, if we are not to be like the whites who turn their backs when Blacks are killed.

These killings are not just tragic, which they are, not just senseless, which they are, they are terrible, terrible in the darkest sense of that word, as these were good people, in the best sense of that word. They represented our future. They represented those who were or would be providing the leadership to end the ghettoizing of our people by the Demorobins (Democrats in charge doing it, Republicans standing by without protest).

Let us respond such that they did die in vain. During the hey day of the 20s and 30s in St. Paul and Chicago and their white gangsters, they were essentially allowed, i.e, officials turned their heads away, as so many were in on bribes, as along as gangsters only killed other gangsters. The fight against them really began when they thought they could get away with killing ordinary citizens.

Here we have a 25 year old and a 15 year old, not thugs, not gangbangers, but loving persons contributing positively to their community. We cannot afford to lose young men like this. Any who know anything must come forward or we will be co-conspirators with whites in the death of our own community, as we commit community suicide. Any who know anything must make known what they know for the good of not only their own conciences, but for the greater good of our community and people.

Background: On September 3, 2006, the Strib carried stories of more shootings. We focus on these three, for which their headlines say it all: Man shot to death near charity group in Minneapolis (man shot was "the target"); Two Minneapolis killings put neighbors on edge (No one has been arrested... shootings ... unrelated), and Assault, gunshots on Minneapolis campaign trail (campaigners say dangerous incidents won't stop them).

All three Strib articles have one thing in common: the sense that these areas are not safe and the call of officials and citizens for more police. It makes one think of Baghdad. Unsafe areas. Purposeful violence by those who want things their way as if it was their "right." In Baghdad they are trying to stop the violence with BOTH military action AND community development projects.

And murder is not just in Minneapolis. Over the Labor Day weekend, L.A. had 13 murders.

And think of this: in the past year, there have been over 16 thousand Americans murdered in this country, which is over 6 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq. As we have outlined in our book and follow up columns and blog entries, we need to address community development, beginning with education, training, jobs (sorely missing in the inner cities of Minneapolis and L.A.), and participation in ownership as partners in inner city development instead of being red lined out of being able to invest.

When a soldier dies in Iraq, the papers go into a frenzy. So why are they so opposed to deaths in Iraq but hardly notice in Minneapolis when the murdered are Black, and only call for more police when it is whites that get killed?

We reported in an earlier column that the state and city "plan" was to put more police on the street for a month and go after the gang members on their list that they say are doing most of the criminal acts.

As we reported in our August 16, 2006 column, the city plans to "deploy as many as 40 officers daily to target members of three gangs ... responsible for a large chunk of the violence on the North Side" (gang members they have gathered into files in thick, 3 inch binders. And yet we ask, where were the police? Why, if police have notebooks on who the gang members are can they say, after Lorenzo shooting, they have no suspects? Not even "the usual suspects." gangs But where are they? And where is the mayor? A crime fighter working to help kids on drugs turn around gets assassinated; a young, 15 year old A student getting ready for school is gunned down for his jersey;

The city has at its disposal a Police Community Rlations Council, that has a Critical Incident Team to help. But neither are regularly consulted, not even for 15 minutes. How long will citizens stand for this lack of a sense of urgency re murders in Minneapolis? Posted 9-7-06, 2:02 a.m.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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