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The Experience of Ron Edwards

A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man's World

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2008 Columns
Quarter 1: January thru March ~ Columns #1 - #12

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March 26, 2008 Column #12: Obama shows class

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The political wolves are on the attack, demanding that Senator Barack Obama not only disavow his minister, but that he also leave his church. This shows the level of ridiculousness that is at play in 2008.

To his credit and experience, Senator Obama resisted those traps and didn't throw his minister under the bus nor repudiate his church. That, my friends, is class. That is what a nation should look for in a leader — a man who holds the line while under fire, and a man who does not strip himself of friendship and fellowship without a tough and thorough examination of these relationships.

The senator is to be commended. He is a bright star in the American political firmament.

Now, you may ask, why do I say "ridiculous"? Let's leave aside the taken-out-of-context sound bites. Instead, let's ask: Is Rev. Wright a marginal, fringe figure?

The answer is no. He has long been viewed by Democrats as a national religious figure. But if a picture is worth a thousand words, then this picture, taken on September 11, 1998, is worth 10,000.

It shows Rev. Wright at a meeting of national religious leaders at the White House. The picture shows a smiling Bill Clinton shaking hands with Rev. Wright, with Al Gore in the background. And, attendance logs show that Hillary was also in the house that day. We know why they are doing this, but to say it's just politics is an admission of desperation.

A Seat For Everyone, by Ron EdwardsWhich is as good a lead as any to briefly discuss my second book: A Seat for Everyone

We are all part of a great country that still has what Lincoln called "unfinished business," about which Martin Luther King, Jr. said we can no longer wait to have it completed.

Thanks to all who have offered congratulations and asked questions. You can order the book on my publisher's website, It is subtitled "The Freedom Guide that Explores a Vision for America."

The sad part is that this is a book that should have been written by the NAACP, the Urban League, the leadership forum, or the ministers association. They have remained silent. Worse: acquiescent silence.

The Urban League tossed Nellie Stone Johnson and me out a while back, and five years ago the NAACP national expelled me for writing my first book. So much for the First Amendment.

I will not be silent. I will not lie down. Sadly, our once young and energetic civil rights leaders have atrophied and become keepers of the status quo they once fought against. They have brought the Civil Rights Movement to a standstill in the inner city.

My hope is that, win or lose, the candidacy of Barack Obama rejuvenates the Civil Rights Movement with its lost energy and enables it to again refocus its eye on the prize, a seat for everyone, not just for the self-appointed leaders who now serve the mastuh. They have their seats at the table. I say there must be a seat for everyone.

You won't read about what is in my book in the Star Tribune and mainstream media. They don't want you to read all the news, only the news they want you to read. Only the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder provides you with the news they won't.

A Seat for Everyone: The Freedom Guide that Explores a Vision for America discusses the major status quo areas that have shown little or no progress: inner-city education, jobs, housing and public safety. I also reference key past columns and where to find them on my Minneapolis Story website.

Also discussed in detail are the two historic lawsuits against the Minneapolis Police Department brought by Black officers. The conditions resulting in this litigation have had a profound impact on public safety in our city and in the City/MPD's treatment of its Black officers. The outcome will also have significant impacts.

Minneapolis is so delusional that it has defined "minorities" to include so many "diverse" groups that it proudly boasts it can now comply with minority hiring without having to hire Blacks. My book discusses this insult as well. Why is everyone else silent about this?

A unique feature is that the book "marries" the online world with that of traditional book publishing. I present my argument in less than 100 pages. This slim volume (literally, as it is easy to put it in your pocket and carry around for easy reference) includes five columns and one blog essay and lists additional columns that can easily be found at:

The book presents a beacon of hope for the current lows in inner-city education, jobs, housing, and public safety. We need to work together to stand up for Black youth and stop waiting for the city government and its teachers unions as they continue to lie down also, rather than stand up for our kids in our schools.

It all starts with education. As Nellie always stated, "No education, no jobs, no housing." Senator Obama would add, "No hope." My book brings hope back to the discussion.

Posted March 26, 2008, 11:30 a.m.

March 19, 2008 Column #11: A consent decree that worked

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

A week ago, Mayor R.T. Rybak announced that Assistant Chief Alex Jackson had been appointed interim chief of the Minneapolis Fire Department. Alex, a 27-year veteran and an African American, has announced that he is a serious candidate for permanent appointment as chief.

In February, the Minneapolis City Council, by resolution, honored two African Americans, firefighter John Griffen and the well known and beloved Danny Davis. Both Mr. Griffen and Mr. Davis served for 21 uninterrupted years on the federal court-appointed Federal Oversight Committee for the Minneapolis Fire Department. I was honored to have been able to serve with them for those 21 years.

It was their dedication and commitment that allowed history to be made with the appointment of Alex Jackson as interim chief. It all happened because of the consent decree that a very small group of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans made work.

Great appreciation is also extended to the man who allowed that door of opportunity to be opened: former chief Roco Forte, now assistant city coordinator. If not for him, the opportunity for Alex and other Blacks to advance into the front office would not have taken place.

Congratulations, gentlemen, on a job well done.

Another contract gets away

If not for Louis King of Summit Academy OIC, a $48 million contract for construction along West River Road would have been completed without African American and other participation. The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department seems to have been asleep at the switch once again.

The contractor is Coloplast, a Danish corporation. They say they will hire about 30 people out of North Minneapolis for a workforce of 458. Whoopee. Stay tuned.

A note from my publisher

From Beacon on the Hill: "Thank you, Mr. Edwards, for allowing us space to announce more details about the publication last week of your new book, A Seat for Everyone: The Freedom Guide that Explores a Vision for America. We want your readers know that they can not only learn more about it on our website,, they can also order the book on that site.

"Mr. Edwards presents his arguments and vision in just 55 pages. The rest of this slim volume (easy to put it in your pocket and carry around for easy reference) lists specific columns that can be found in the archive at: He combines the printed word with the new online world of the Internet in a small package that packs a giant wallop.

"In addition to covering major Minneapolis civil rights events, Mr. Edwards shares with his readers the background to the historical lawsuit by the Black police officers of Dec. 3, 2007, against the city and the department."

Posted March 19, 2008, 11:59 p.m.

March 12, 2008 Column #10: The Round Up Begins: The Targeting Of The Hispanic Community

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

It became clear at City Hall on March 5, 2008, at the Public Safety Committee meeting, that the term "Human Trafficking" is the new code term for rounding up Latinos and Hispanics for deportation. This will be the work of the Homeland Security agency ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), aided by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). This reverses a long stated policy that the MPD would not be involved in the enforcement of immigration laws.

Serious concerns about the future relationships between the city of Minneapolis and the Latino-Hispanic community were immediately evident when Deputy Chief Val Woorsster made the announcement that the joint operations on the streets of Minneapolis were about to begin. In doing so she confirmed what I have written about on a number of occasions, that the purpose of this new relationship, or alliance, was predicated upon security preparation for the National Republican Convention, September 1-4, in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

As we wrote in columns previous to this one, the major carrot for a reversal in the role of the Minneapolis Police Dept in immigration arrest, detention, and deportation, is that old standby: money, which, in this case, is a $50M allocation to be split among the local jurisdictions involved in the security preparation for the Republican convention.

Despite my numerous warnings, the communities of color did not see this coming. Only Councilman Garry Schiff raised the necessary questions on Wednesday, March 5 th , that indicated that it would not be a unanimous decision by the City Council to allow the Minneapolis Police Department, working with ICE and other Homeland Security agencies in the round up of Hispanics and Latinos.

As we have reported on several occasions, our research indicates that under special conditions and emergencies, the power is in place to authorize stopping, detaining, incarcerating and deporting individuals. All that is required to act without due process (whether by a Democrat or Republican administration), is a declaration of a state of emergency for reasons of national security.

Hopefully, civil libertarians will demand public hearings in both Minneapolis and St Paul to determine the parameters for this undertaking. That there are serious issues to deal with is not questioned. Questioned is the easy way in which state and city sovereignty can be so blithely dismissed, especially when the U.S. Congress itself is split on this issue. This is not a "slam dunk" issue.

Mayors are elected leaders, not appointed administrators. Our Twin City mayors need to provide the voices of reassurance that the implementation of this new action will not be accompanied with the fear and apprehension that could shake the very constitutional foundation of our country, not to mention shake the expectation of constitutional protection within our cities.

Archived on our web site are four specific columns of 2006, in which we warned of these pending plans and actions: May 10, June 21, July 5, and Aug 16. You'll also find a link to a corresponding June 9, 2006 article in the NY Times.

Not concerned? How about when you see federal law enforcement agents and Minneapolis police officers, in their new Black &White squad cars, riding through your community, rounding up you or your neighbors for detention and possible deportation?

Stay tuned.

Campaign 2008: 40 years ago Martin Luther King, Jr. explained why we can't wait any longer. In the rebirth of the Clinton campaign, we are again being asked to wait. See our columns of November 8 and December 6, 2006 (archived on our web site), where we have argued that no matter what the circumstances may be, the African American would never be allowed to be seen as eligible or qualified to lead the nation or provide strategy for national security.

Neo-Nazi deniers: facts expose you. There is neo-Nazi activity in our city and in our police department. City council members and others who deny or doubt: review our column of Dec 20, 2006.

A media icon passes from the scene

Bill Carlson died March 2nd. For 50 years, first on radio, then on TV, he was an example of the best of our Minnesota character as he presented the beauty of his personality that so many loved and respected. The memorial services for him at the Old Log Theater (March 5 th ) and at the State Theatre (March 6 th ) were heart felt, reflecting the respect, appreciation and love for a man who was an icon who brought so much warmth and character into the homes of so many Minnesotans.

His wife Nancy gladly received the many expressions of love and respect, including from co-workers ranging from Don Shelby to the legendary football great Jim Marshall. Bill Carlson did much for so many across our society. He will truly be missed.

My new book: A Seat for Everyone: The Freedom Guide that Explores a Vision for America , provides a needed corrective to the self serving historical and chronological record fantasized by Minneapolis, as I explain my work of connecting the dots in order to help close the gaps, inviting my readers to do the same. You can order the book from our web site.

Posted March 12, 2008, 1:35 p.m.

March 5, 2008 Column #9: Response to a Challenge Baseball Authority Responds

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The Minnesota Baseball Authority, under the leadership of Steve Cramer, convened their monthly meeting February 28 th and affirmed workplace diversity.

Leading the agenda were questions about stadium construction employment diversity raised in columns and news stories in this newspaper.

At the February 28th meeting, this columnist was joined by long time friend Jerry Bell, President of the Minnesota Twins, and Louis King, President of Summit Academy, OIC. We all spoke of our concerns about the failure of M.A. Mortenson Co to meet stadium construction diversity goals .

John Wood, Partner and Senior Vice President of Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Co. (they are also constructing the Gophers' stadium) responded by stating his firm is also concerned, and, just as Mr. King and Mr. Bell, he too is committed to correcting the problems. This is refreshing.

Steve Cramer and the Baseball Authority are to be commended for directly addressing the problem. Jerry Bell and the Minnesota Twins are to be equally credited for indicating their ongoing commitment to stadium workplace diversity.

The next few weeks will be critical for M.A. Mortenson Co. and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, to enact solutions to their clear failure.

Stay tuned.

The continued journey of Lt. Michael Keefe

On Wednesday, February 27th, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) abruptly relieved Lt. Michael Keefe from duty. It has certainly created many questions inside the MPD that have very troubling political consequences and legal consequences for the City of Minneapolis and its Council, Mayor, and Police Chief.

Lt. Keefe's suspension has nothing to do with the wild and unsubstantiated allegations against him a month ago. This suspension raises questions about a mean spirited and calculated vendetta against this very fine officer. It appears that by the time this column is printed Lt. Keefe's attorneys will have filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court in response to the erroneous and scandalous allegations against Lt. Keefe

Anniversary of Kerner Commission Report: USA Today February 28 front page: only 8.2% of whites are considered poor, 20.6% of Hispanics and 24.3% of Blacks. But, with equal access and equal opportunity, all Americans would average the same. There can only be one of two answers: the Kerner myth that there has to be two Americas as we are different and can't make it on our own, or the facts we write about of the obstruction to equal access and opportunity allowing Jim Crow inner city government plantations to deny equal access to education, jobs, and promote family instability.

$4/gal gas? CNN 2-38-08: gas in NY $3.67/gal. I've been predicting $4/gal for two years on my TV show.

Singing the Vikings Stadium Blues: $935Million MN budget shortfall means budget cuts, not additions.

Posted 3-6-8, 5:22 a.m.

February 27, 2008 Column #8: City ignores signs of extremist danger: Preparing for the race war of 2008

The February 20 edition of City Pages carried a story of the "good" skinheads of the 1980s, who only boot-beat "bad" skinheads during the Neo-Nazi heyday 20 years ago. The story causes us to reflect back upon the Aryan Nation and neo-Nazis as we recall the stories of neo-Nazi activities and sympathizers inside our law enforcement agencies.

Even more chilling is the existence of websites run and managed by neo-Nazi law enforcement personnel, websites that are scattered throughout the U.S.

We raised the question several months ago about Operation Black Falcon being put in place for the Republican National Convention in St. Paul September 1-4, 2008. We are aware that our liberal enclave of the Twin Cities is quick to dismiss the existence of any such right-wing terror groups, because the assumption is that their targets are always only people of color.

But don't be fooled, my friends. These groups are very sophisticated and, in fact, on far too many occasions are trained by our own government in the art of intelligence gathering, covert operations and counter-operations, so I am not surprised by those who are surprised by this.

For a number of years, the Minnesota-Dakota Jewish Community Relations Council, JCRC, has graciously sponsored and provided up to 30 free roundtrip airline tickets to enable the Minneapolis Police Department to send members to the Jewish Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., for education and awareness and, specifically, to better understand the role police played in Hitler's rise to power and his subsequent "final solution" that exterminated six million Jews and five million others.

The next group going to D.C., in April, includes some who have infiltrated the delegation and who jokingly refer to the opportunity to celebrate Adolph Hitler's April 20 birthday while there.

In reading this, some will recoil. Others — history deniers who don't want to remember — will ask how we dare make such an allegation. But we remember.

We remember the two separate investigations, first in the 1970s and then in the early 1980s, that documented the presence of neo-Nazi activities in the MPD. Deny all you want, but its true.

Thus we were taken aback to learn last week that a Jewish member of the Minneapolis City Council indicated it was not the business of the council to examine whether there is a new Nazi Aryan presence in the MPD. Unfortunately for the Jewish community, it was that kind of blindness that led to the extermination efforts in Nazi Germany and other European countries.

Hopefully the JCRC will be a little more concerned and vigilant.

Denial won't erase the fact that the neo-Nazi website, "City Heat," existed until the web masters purged the site after detecting hostile probes the morning of February 21 and shut it down. Unlike ordinary web users, experts know how to recapture the information.

We are reminded of the Academy Award-winning Best Foreign Film of 1970, The Garden of the Finzi-Continis , about a wealthy Italian Jewish family in fascist Italy, 1938-1943. They refused to face a truth that was unbelievable to them as their European civilization disintegrated before their unbelieving eyes, even as they finally boarded a train heading for a concentration death camp.

Denial won't hold a hostile world at bay.

In Minneapolis, if we deny what is, as well as forget what was, we will not only be cursed to live through it again, but we'll be remembered by our children and grandchildren as idiots. Europe wasn't "taken" by fascism, but rather was a willing and even eager participant in jumping into the fascist bed.

Will Minneapolis continue to act passively politically while the police department, led by Timmy Dolan (who I've known since he was 15) lets its police destroy our garden, cursing us to live again through the worst of the past?

It is chilling, my friends, that this city continues to pretend that such extreme right-wing factions do not exist and that there is no threat to public safety nor a need to probe the MPD. Unless we face the truth, we'll get a most sad and tragic wake-up call.

Stay tuned.

Campaign heats up

The Feb 21 edition of the New York Times carried a story within a story of Senator John McCain, who will become the Republican Party nominee for president. The responses have been about the probable truth that he did not have an affair with a former lobbyist.

This response hides the story's truth of his affiliation with the "Keating Five," in which he and four other senators were caught up in the Savings & Loan corruption scandal of 1989. The senator was given a light reprimand. Missing from the conservative media attempt to distract is that the scandal also featured Neil Bush, the current president's brother.

The story breaks just as McCain picks up the beat on his attack on Senator Obama by questioning his patriotism. How will the nation fare if the candidates concentrate on tearing each other down rather than on building up America?

Stay tuned.

Posted 2-26-08, 12:58 a.m.

February 20, 2008 Column #7: The Betrayal of a Trust: The Brutal Death of 4 year old Demond Reed

Two weeks ago, a four year old boy, visiting from Chicago, was beaten to death in a brutal and unspeakable manner by his 37 year old cousin, herself a mother of four, 4, 6, 8 and 11. She forced her children to participate in this heinous crime. Demond's body was left for days in a trash bag.

There are few things children can control, but there are many things we all expect to be controlled for them, of which the most important is to be loved and respected.

Our roles as adults, parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins and neighbors, is to respect their fragileness and repay their trust with our protection. When adults commit acts of violence against a child, they terribly violate the trust of the child and the community.

It breaks the hearts of all of us that care about the importance of humanity, the importance of trust, and the guarantee of safety in our community. This is about us.

No child should have to live through the nightmare endured by this four year old baby. A little bit of the soul of our community is forever lost as Demond is laid to rest.

But we are not allowed rest. This 37 year old mother also betrayed the trust due her own children. She now loses them. They now lose her. Their souls are scared by what they saw, heard and were forced to do. Relatives and friends of the family will suffer the pain and the denial of what has happened. And Demond Reed's mother and father will forever be haunted by the question of what might have been.

Four year old Demond was blessed to have his Grandmother from his father's side of the family come here from Chicago, take control of the situation, press the investigation, and help uncover the first break in the case.

Yet Demond is gone. The life of a child has been lost, a child that could have been one of many, many great things, a journalist, a composer, an astronaut, a brilliant student. He might have become a good parent who would have offered much to his community, nation and world. He won't get that chance, and his loss means we lost a bit of our humanity and a part of our future.

As we wrote in this column March 28 th , on the 41 days of terror visited upon an infant before he too was killed, we face a crisis in our community that did not exist when I was a young man 60 years ago, and so now, as a community, we must act to deal with the abuse of Black children by Blacks.

Posted 2-20-08, 11:54 p.m.

February 13, 2008 Column #6: Battle lines drawn in race for U.S. presidency

With the sudden departure of Governor Mitt Romney from the list of presidential aspirants, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was thought to be politically dead just months ago, will leave St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 4, 2008 (barring a calamity), as the standard bearer of the Grand Old Party (GOP). For some of you youngsters, "GOP" refers to the Republican Party.

On the Democratic Party side, a true mirror reflection of America is being played out in which the doctrine of opportunity for all will be severely tested. Contending for the Democratic Party nomination are two who never before have been called upon to carry the battle flag of the Democratic Party in a presidential race: a woman and an African American.

After the last Democratic primary on June 3, Clinton and Obama could still be in a deadlock. Many will call it too close to call, and some will try to bring backroom politics into play. If so, it could well test Obama's theme that change is the order of the day.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean proposes business as usual — that the two challengers come together behind closed doors and agree to an arrangement for the good of the party, even if, for Obama supporters, that is not for the good of the nation.

In leading up to this challenge, propagandists on both sides will raise questions to place doubt in the minds of marginal supporters. One hopes that Senator Obama has both the personal strength and the campaign support to resist "let's make a deal."

Being a columnist is comfortable. Being a candidate for the most powerful political office on the face of this planet means making hard decisions based on hard facts.

We know that some pro-Clinton supporters will raise the question of coattails, questioning whether Obama would be strong enough to carry Democratic office holders and seekers into the corridors of power. The greater legitimate question of concern for the African American voter is why the Democrats haven't recruited an outstanding class of Black Americans to run on his coattails.

So, even if our champion is nominated and wins the presidency on the first Tuesday in November, it will make little difference in the complexion of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, or the state governorships due to the Democrats not lining up Black candidates.

I know that some are uneasy with this observation, but we see it as a fair one. At this hour, there is so much enthusiasm, so much expectation, and so much vision of a new America, as seen through the eyes of Senator Obama and his supporters. This should have translated into four or five African Americans elected to the U.S. Senate, 11 to 15 new African Americans in the House of Representatives, and certainly taking anywhere from three to five state houses, as well as the avalanche that one would hope would take place at lower levels of political entry.

But, how could this happen when Democrats and national Black organizations do not recruit any significant number of new Black players on the American political stage?

Now, let us be clear in this corner. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, and wins the presidency, don't even begin to expect any of what we have addressed to happen in 2008. Recall that it never took place under her "popular" husband, either, after his two successful runs for the presidency of the United States in 1992 and 1996.

These are hard questions that must be asked now, for those who oppose the nomination of Obama will certainly begin to raise these questions, both openly and clandestinely. Rest assured of that.

Obama supporters must be prepared to respond, and to do so with other than emotional responses. This election '08 could very well be the turning point for the future of this nation and those dreams that are oftentimes talked and pontificated about. I don't know if we of Black America can wait "our turn" once again until the election of 2016.

The economic downturn continues

With the announcement last Thursday that Macy's was cutting 950 jobs in the Twin Cities area, and with businesses disappearing from the landscape, one wonders how long the American voter will continue to turn a blind eye to what is certainly one of the biggest economic threats to the stability of this nation since the Great Depression of 1929-1939.

One of the more progressive magazines last week pointed out that we owe the Chinese $253 billion, the Japanese $172 billion, and apparently the Middle East oil-producing nations about $79 billion.

The president announced a week ago a federal budget of $3 trillion. We are already $9 trillion in debt and counting, and one has to wonder tonight in America if our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have the perseverance and the patience to work out this size of debt.

This is just something to think about, my friends, as we watch the dollar shrink and hear the rhetoric that the good times will continue to expand while the average Joe's billfold continues to shrink. Hold on.

Posted February 13, 2008, 8:00 a.m.

February 6, 2008 Column #5: Battle lines drawn in federal court

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

One of the most significant civil rights cases involving the City of Minneapolis and its citizens opened Thursday morning January 31, 2008, in the 14th Floor Federal Building courtroom of Federal Judge Michael Davis.

Also historic is the mostly-White Police Federation first-ever law suit against the city on behalf of a Black officer, one of the five Black officers in this case.

Judge Davis found an almost empty courtroom. Only the five African American police officers, two of their attorneys, Assistant City Attorney Jim Moore with a single assistant, and, in the gallery, only David Channen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and this columnist.

No member of the executive branch. No member of the legislative branch. No chief of police. No civil rights department leadership.

This is a tactical error that the City will come to regret.

No so-called advocates or activists. So-called Black leadership. Those who pretend to represent and speak on the issues of justice and fairness were not there. Maybe it was too early in the morning, but justice and the courts do not wait.

We had the opportunity to observe a federal judge we have known for 30 years. For 11 of those years, he served as a district court judge for the State of Minnesota. For the last 14 years, he has served on the federal bench.

He is a judge who takes his oath and his responsibility seriously. He controls his courtroom. He controls the case. And he commands respect.

But the respect issue seems to be missing as it pertains to the City of Minneapolis. I've got to tell you, my friends, that any legal advisor would tell a municipality where the potential for so much damage was at play that it certainly would be helpful to have the chief of police sitting at the table with his legal representatives.

There is no cessation of the City's arrogance and disregard of some of our citizens. The City wanted to have specifics about the chief dismissed and wanted to cap how far back they could go with respect to discrimination — only 10 years — when all five officers averaged 22 years of service each.

The judge said no.

Since our last column, Lt. Michael Keefe has called the department's charges against him "false" and "slanderous."

This is not the time to disrespect a sitting federal judge.

You can rest assured that this column and this newspaper will keep you, the general public, fully abreast of the many aspects of these historic cases. We feel that the public has an absolute right to know and to follow all aspects of a case that will test the City of Minneapolis' commitment to justice and fairness.

Posted 2-6-08, 12: 35 a.m.

January 30, 2008 Column #4: If White police aren't safe, who is?

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Something very, very wrong and very, very troubling exists in the culture of our city government.

When MPD Lt. Michael Keefe took command of the violent offender task force (VOTF), he was tasked with working closely with his federal partners (ATF, DEA, FBI and Homeland Security) to get the bad guys off of the street. Internally, he was tasked to take a look at a disturbing pattern of excessive overtime in the unit (see our two columns of 2007).

During the latter part of 2007, we were hearing disturbing rumors about the department's rationale for relieving Lt. Keefe of command. Everything was a cocky hush-hush. Lt. Keefe was gone. And the excessive overtime? It continues.

And the complaint I filed on behalf of Lt. Keefe and Black officers in late August 2007? It went nowhere. I kept asking. Finally, on November 9, 2007, 90 days after the fact, Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan said the case would be reviewed.

On January 9, 2008, the Minneapolis City Attorney's office, acting as attorneys for the MPD, responded to my August 2007 complaint, sending a six page response to the civil rights department, which then sent it to me to prove my allegations false. Instead, it is a bombshell of false allegations.

The City writes that Lt. Keefe is one of the most traitorous law enforcement officers in the history of Minnesota policing. Not since the days of Prohibition, payoffs, bribes, and backroom deals has a police officer with the reputation of integrity of Lt. Keefe been accused of such false allegations.

Is their overtime scam that important to them?

The City of Minneapolis alleges that Lt. Keefe, as early as May 21, 2007, was identified by his federal partners as a threat to the security and safety of his VOTF unit federal partners, especially regarding a celebrated joint federal-state investigation in Faribault, Minnesota, that included the jurisdiction of Rice County. Because federal agencies did not trust the Faribault chief of police nor the sheriff of Rice County, Lt. Keefe was not to inform them of this ongoing investigation in their jurisdiction of the notorious and dangerous Tretre Gang — an order they allege he violated.

As early as May 21, 2007, Lt. Keefe was identified and red-flagged as being a security risk and was prohibited from entering ATF office space due to his alleged violations of trust, leaking of information, and, I assume, consorting with criminal elements. The City alleges he represented the possibility of the death of undercover officers and their informants involving this highly confidential Rice County investigation.

Having identified Lt. Keefe as a security risk, the City alleges that, according to their version of events, the FBI had informed Chief Dolan that Lt. Keefe could not be trusted for command. On August 13, 2007, Lt. Michael Keefe was relieved of command, and on the 14th of August was ordered to report to the Third Precinct.

Given these events, the following questions would have to be raised: Why was Lt. Keefe allowed to stay in command from May to August and to remain on duty since then? What was the conclusion of the internal affairs investigation of Lt. Keefe? Is the U.S. Attorney or the Federal District of Minnesota preparing charges against Lt. Keefe? Has a federal grand jury been impaneled? Are others being looked at as co-conspirators? How many other officers?

Finally, if they can do this to a White cop, what and how often are they doing this to Black citizens?

Now, even the most limited of us recognize that information is being given to a group or a cadre of individuals within the City who have no regard for law and order, as they violate the rights, integrity and career of this officer. These are the types of innuendo, allegations and conspiracy theories that some human beings will never recover from, no matter how innocent they are proven to be at a later time and date.

Rest assured that for the purposes of this column, and this writer, there is no way on God's green earth that I believe that Lt. Michael Keefe was involved in any of these transgressions, or in any of these acts of treason, or in any of these acts of disrespect for the rule of law. His record is of mutual respect for those he serves and for those who serve under his command.

Something very, very wrong and very, very troubling exists in the culture of our city government. The police department, city attorney's office, and civil rights department march in lockstep to consort and plot and plan the destruction of a single human being. For all us who value the rule of law and the institutions of democracy and order, this sends a chill down our spine.

Those of us who talk the dream, walking in the footprints of Martin, singing "We Shall Overcome," and who believe in the positive goals of our fellow men and women, should be frightened and concerned for the institutional and constitutional stability of our community as the City tries to turn Minneapolis into a fortress city.

As we watch decency evaporate and disappear, we ask whatever happened to the commitment to fairness, honesty, integrity, decency and dignity, all in the name of justice? What will storytellers tell, singers sing, and children talk about as they realize we have lost our innocence?

1-31-08 UPDATE. After this column was submitted, the Strib reported Lt. Keefe saying that the charges were false and slanderous.

Posted 1-31-08, 4:25 p.m.

January 23, 2008 Column #3: Who will challenge discrimination in this city?

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

In the last month, Twins President Jerry Bell, Minnesota Baseball Authority Chairman Steve Kramer, and Summit Academy Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) Director Lewis King have been confronted by a belligerent and hostile M.A. Mortenson's refusal to respect the employment laws of the State of Minnesota and the City of Minneapolis, causing extreme embarrassment to the Minnesota Twins.

When Jerry Bell, the principal person responsible for shepherding the completion of the Minnesota Twins' new stadium, saw legislation passed in April 2006 creating the Minnesota Baseball Authority, with the contract awarded to M.A. Mortenson and arrangements made with OIC to serve as the employment broker on the new Twins stadium, he figured the only thing he had to worry about was opening day in a couple of years and naming rights for the new baseball stadium.

Last week, an African American, Bernard Flowers, a credentialed heavy equipment operator who had worked in Hennepin County's Public Works Department, attempted to obtain a job application from Mortenson. When Rick Johnson, the number-two man at the Baseball Authority, became aware of how Flowers was denied, he called M .A. Mortenson to order them to give him a job application.

The Civil Rights Department of the City of Minneapolis was nowhere to be seen, although everyone knows that the department is to monitor the project. The department gladly takes taxpayer dollars, a legal stickup, as it doesn't do its job.

The department has already capitulated on the Gophers' football stadium. Jerry Bell and Steve Kramer want African Americans to receive employment activities. It is a sad commentary during the month of Martin Luther King's birthday that nullification and reversal are as alive today as if this were the 1920s and the civil rights struggle had never taken place.

And, the Civil Rights Department continues to ignore the tactic being used on both the University of Minnesota football stadium and the Twins baseball facility: employing police to threaten job applicants of color with trespassing.

So much for "I have a dream."

Sgt. Charles Adams continues to battle

Both the Minneapolis Star Tribune and WCCO reported last Wednesday that Black police officer Charles Adams was suing the City, the MPD, and Chief Tim Dolan regarding his reassignment out of homicide in late November. Even though Sgt. Adams has been attacked and stabbed in the back by some within the Black community, he continues to fight on with unanimous support in many different quarters.

Martin and Malcolm, Nellie and Cecil would be proud of his tenaciousness and commitment to civil and human rights. Too bad we can't say the same for the City of Minneapolis and its Civil Rights Department.

Stay tuned.

Posted 1-24-08, 7:20 p.m.

January 15, 2008 Column #2: Welcome to the Minneapolis Department of Civil Chaos

"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

When the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission were founded in 1967, people knew there would be ups and downs. That included the leadership of the departments as well as their paid staff.

There have been some passionate directors of the Civil Rights Department from 1967 to the present: Lillian Anthony, Bobby Benford and David Ramirez. Of course, there have been others who have not distinguished themselves and who have caused questions to be raised about the department's mission and its passion.

It appears that in 2008, we find ourselves faced with a department and an ordinance that is about to be unsettled, the outgrowth of its failure, its shame, and its ineffectiveness. The latest reporting from WCCO (Channel 4), KMSP (Channel 9), and KSTP (Channel 5), as well as from the Star Tribune — and first and foremost from this newspaper, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder — all uncover an institution that has crashed upon the rocks of nullification and reversal.

We see this crash in the charges of sexual harassment, obstruction of its own ordinance, retaliation against its own employees, and the forcing out of its own investigators. In fact, on that very point, it is difficult to imagine in modern times how an institution entrusted with investigation and determination relevant to those complaints and subsequent investigations can meet its obligations under the cover of law when there are no investigators to investigate.

On December 17, 2007, this newspaper wrote about the executive director's appearance before the Civil Rights Commission, which is the companion organization in the enforcement of the Civil Rights Ordinance for the City of Minneapolis.

During that meeting, the executive director withheld information, obstructed the legal options open to the commission, and never indicated that this was a department that was about to jettison all of its investigators with the exception of the supervisor of investigation, who himself is under investigation for sexual harassment and retaliation. It would have seemed, coming just nine days after his appointment to a two-year term, that the executive director would have provided the information requested by the Civil Rights Commission.

However, during a 45 minute examination, the executive director responded in a burlesque and cavalier manner regarding his meeting with the Black police officers on September 11, 2007. In meetings in September, October and November, the director never informed the commission of the meeting nor of his thinking with respect to all elements of the allegations and complaints made by these Black police officers.

In fact, the Star Tribune reported during the week of January 7, 2008, as the "heat was turned up" on Jordan, the director of the department, he made a very interesting statement in which he said the loss of five investigators is but a hiccup that may slow us down for a while, but will ultimately be better for the department. He completed his observation by saying, "I've been here seven months. Give me another six and I'll have this thing fixed."

Well, I don't think the civil rights community can afford to have him for 13 months. I know the governmental leadership cannot afford him for the next six months, and the mayor, who wants to run for governor, certainly cannot afford him for the next six months.

What is their choice? He has a two-year contract at close to $100,000 a year. And, in the words of Bilbo, "Keep this boy around, because he's running my plantation the way I need it to be run."

The founders of the Civil Rights Ordinance for this city expected an institution that would be run with dignity, consideration for all, and fairness and partiality for those who came for assistance. And, by the way, that included the staff of the Civil Rights Department and its relationship with the commission.

None of that has happened for a long time, and none of that will change over the next six months. But then, the position of the Rybak administration is that Black people for sure, as well as others who would attempt to utilize the ordinance, shall be treated as a disenfranchised people. So, in the words of Justice Taney, they have no standing, legally or morally.

What a sad day, as the sun begins to set on civil rights at Minneapolis City Hall. Stay tuned.

Follow-up on the baseball stadium

We had the opportunity to have a very interesting discussion about Jerry Bell, the man in charge of making sure that the construction of the Twins baseball park gets done for the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins are not happy that there are no African Americans on the construction site, and yet at the meeting of December 17, 2007, we heard Michael Jordan tell the Civil Rights Commission that everything was fine. Of course, he didn't produce any statistics or data and basically said to the commission, "Don't do anything until you hear from me."

Well, of course, we know the fix was already in. And that is what has Steve Kramer and Louis King concerned, and rightly so. No Black folk need apply. Stay tuned.

Posted 1-16-08, 10:55 a.m.

January 2, 2008 Column #1: MPD's scorched-earth policy: 2007 bleeds into 2008

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

As worldwide conflict unfolded, the Nazi war machine rolled into Mother Russia in 1941. History indicates that the death toll was staggering on both sides — in the millions. No one reading this history can forget the battles inside Stalingrad and outside the gates of Moscow.

One of tactics used by the Russians to preserve the Soviet Union, as well as to defeat Nazi Germany, was the military strategy of scorched earth, not unlike Sherman's march to the sea during our Civil War. Like Sherman in the South, the Soviet High Command's tactic was to leave nothing for the Nazi war machine to live off of.

Crops, homes and buildings were destroyed. Water wells were poisoned. Herds of cattle and sheep and flocks of chickens were destroyed. The world applauded that military strategy.

At the end of 2007, it is terrifying to realize that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has begun 2008 by imposing that scorched-earth tactic on the African American community, using their version of a scorched-earth policy in order to save their White vision of Minneapolis: Keep Blacks in their place and, preferably, encourage them to leave (by denying quality education and contractor/worker jobs on major projects like the stadiums for the Twins and Gophers, light rail, and I-35 bridge rebuilding).

Since December 3, 2007, there has been an outrageous and dangerous escalation of violence against African Americans that I can document, including beatings of families, causing serious injury, all in the name of "justice."

Remember Hue during the Vietnam War? The rationale given was that "we had to destroy the city to save it." The MPD's attempt to destroy the soul of the African American community won't work (it hasn't for 400 years and won't now), but trying to do so will destroy the soul of Minneapolis.

Some do not realize that on Christmas night this city came close once again to a civil uprising. It has been rumored that one of the tactics endorsed by the MPD is to inflict as much physical and mental harm as possible on the African American community. There seems to be a certain anger, almost hatred, within some of the MPD against the African American community.

Minneapolis continues to deny history, acting on its own pronouncement that the city has had no discrimination past or present, and by stating that it can meet its minority hire rules without hiring Blacks.

The nature of our major media is that they don't speak about it; however, that doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. As I write, the horror stories are everywhere in our communities of color. Challenge me on it, and I will go into even more graphic detail, including times, dates and locations, which I find astounding in light of the recent lawsuit and call for the MPD to be placed under federal receivership.

The African American leadership must meet in a closed-door summit to formulate both a response and a media request for help. We may be fast approaching the need for massive civil disobedience.

If Black children and Black families cannot exist in peace and tranquility with the same confidence and comfort enjoyed by Whites, there can be no peace and tranquility for anyone. Education and subsequent jobs, along with public safety, must be made the civil-rights issues of our time.

And it must all be nonviolent. If we can't be nonviolent, we are no better that those we protest against.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a student of Gandhi's nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to achieve civil rights. On police, Gandhi said: "I have conceded that even in a non-violent state a police force may be necessary... Police ranks will be composed of believers in non-violence. The people will instinctively render them every help and through mutual cooperation they will easily deal with the ever decreasing disturbances."

King and Gandhi knew the truth of what Emerson said: that morality is at "the center of the universe," which is why we can say there are rights of the oppressed not to be oppressed. Gandhi correctly insisted, "You must be the change you want to see in the world," and "Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected."

What we have is the truth of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution as amended, and Lincoln's speeches. And, if necessary, we must deliver this American truth to our fellow-Americans with nonviolent civil disobedience. We must be prepared and stand at the ready.

Throughout 2007, we asked, "Will the City and the MPD serve all with fairness and justice, or not?" To that we now add the question for 2008, "What is moral about their current behavior, and, more importantly, what is moral about our leaders, Black or White, remaining silent in times of change?"

'Black Focus' honored

A highlight of 2007 was to be honored to receive the City Pages Award for the Best Cable Access TV program in the Twin Cities. It was the second time in 10 years we were so recognized.

Posted 1-3-08, 11:35 p.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

Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and for the columns. Please cite for blog entries and solution papers.

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