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2010 Columns
Quarter 4: October thru December ~ Columns #40 - #52

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December 29, 2010 Column #52: Governor-elect Mark Dayton.  Champion of Change for All. [With more on the Diversity statutes]

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

After escaping slavery, Frederic Douglass wrote, in 1852, that we are an exceptional nation and people because of the “principles” of our Declaration of Independence that are “saving principles.”  He urged “Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions…,” just as Martin Luther King called on us to be faithful to the Declaration’s creed in his Dream speech.  Douglass called the Constitution “a glorious liberty document” and says it was “not intended to be a slave-holding instrument”, as it does not contain the words “slavery, slaveholding nor slave…in it.”

It is within this context that I offer congratulations to Governor-elect Mark Dayton on becoming our 40th Governor, re-energizing his political career after leaving the Senate in 2007.  Senator Dayton had a plan for a cabinet level Department of Peace.  We urge him to bring his plan of constitutional principles to Minnesota.

It is time for the Urban League, NAACP, and Black leadership groups to read my essays on planning in my books and columns, which counter their whining and crying about not having access to governors, as if “Governor” meant “savior”.  It does not.  But we do need the Dayton’s family legacy of championing right and doing the right thing, and bring the power of that Dayton Minnesota lore to bear, to make up for the fact that many of our Minneapolis problems have been delivered by the DFL. 

Mark Dayton’s Grandfather started Dayton Department Store.  His dad and four uncles turned it into a retail empire that included Target, Mervyn's and Marshall Fields.  In 1946, his Uncle Ken Dayton committed the company to a level of philanthropy not seen before in business circles, setting the standard of giving 5 percent of its pre-tax profits to the community, lamenting more businesses did not do so as well.  We urge Governor elect Dayton to bring that level of standard back to the State of Minnesota, perhaps with the help of The Dayton Philanthropic Trust, which could help develop plans to reflect positive visions for education, economic development, jobs, housing and investment in the African American community.

We need him to lead the state through the next great budget and safety net crisis.  As 60 Minutes reported December 19, 2010, the coming “financial meltdown in state and local governments” is not so much an income problem as it is a benefits problem ($1 trillion nationwide), caused by public employees who keep getting awarded unfunded pensions and health care benefits promises at tax payer expense, benefits tax payers don’t get.

Black leaders must not play this governor for a fool or as one who does not have a history and understanding of the problems and visions facing Minnesota’s African American communities.  This is as an opportunity for Minnesota to embrace the visions of Nellie Stone Johnson, Cecil Newman, and other great legends in the struggle for African American inclusion.

Nellie and Cecil worked with Hubert Humphrey, who was viewed by the Daytons as a true visionary who understood what was needed to deliver effective programs with compassion and success.  This is the standard we can expect when this governor takes his reins of power.

Yes, he will have a Republican legislature.  So yes, there will be give and take.  Our Black leadership wants us to believe they are seasoned players and understand this art of compromise.  Now is the time to prove it.  The ball is in their court.  As we enter 2011, and its new legislative session, it is time that the ecumenical communities, the social service communities and those who say they represent the brightest thinking in the African American community rise to the occasion.  Will they?  Or will they merely work to get theirs at the expense of the rest of us?  We look to Governor-elect Dayton to implement the best that our political and governmental institutions are capable of, for all our communities.

Cecil, Nellie and Hubert would want to see the opportunity fulfilled of delivering success and achieve the framer’s principles for full equality of access and opportunity for all.

We know the city has not followed its own diversity statutes for years (see my columns of Nov 17 and Nov 24, 2010, and December 15, 2010).  What standard will now be set for 2011?

You will find lists of my columns and book chapters on my standards and on planning for all communities of Minneapolis, Black and white, at this link for Solution Paper #40: Planning (https://www.theminneapolisstory.com/solutionpapers/
42Planning.html).

Stay tuned

And may God bless Black as well as White Minnesotans during this holiday season.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Thursday, December 29, 2010, 10:20 p.m.

 


December 22, 2010 Column #51: "Safe Streets" or "Street Safe" — take your pick. The fix is in again, and transparency out

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

During the spring and summer of 2010, there was much discussion throughout the city about a program known as Operation Ceasefire. The entire odyssey was covered in great detail in my August 4, 2010 column in which we reported $2.2 million expected to come into the city, with at least $1 million being allocated to the group identified by Booker T Hodges in his columns over the last eight months.

Once the announcement was made that Operation Ceasefire would not be coming to Minneapolis, I wondered what the next move would be. Now we are beginning to see.

Federal sources and bloggers in Boston, Massachusetts reported that the weekend of December 10-12 a delegation from Minneapolis arrived in Boston to work on plans to bring a program and monies to Minneapolis. Those monies would be “Safe Street” monies, which, according to the website of the Minneapolis Council of Churches, would be funneled through the organization to a consortium of clergy and civil rights leaders.

Bloggers are now reporting a meeting was held here in Minneapolis on December 13, comprised of the key principals in the plan, during which there was an in-depth discussion on how the proceeds would be assigned.

During the December 13 discussion, a member of the ecumenical community indicated that his cut would be 43 percent off the top. In addition, the group discussed who would be revealed and who would not be revealed as principal operatives in this “Safe Streets” program.

During the discussion it was pointed out that length of service, whatever that means, determines the cut of the pie. Of course, this position led to some philosophical debates, but it was quickly determined that there was nothing to debate, that it was a done deal. And feeling they had no place else to go, they relented.

The Black Ministerial Alliance of Boston, of course, is running interference in endorsing the credentials of the Minneapolis group. To the best of our knowledge, the executive director of the Black Ministerial Alliance in Boston has never been in our beloved city to evaluate the environment and current operational programs in existence. But the presentation in Boston was tied to the following: personal relationships, the failed Operation Ceasefire, political endorsements in Minneapolis, and now, how the payouts would take place.

An announcement of the date of the arrival of “Safe Streets/Street Safe” was discussed. Of course, with the publishing of this column, dates and timelines will no doubt be changed. In fact, we would expect that the leadership group would say no such meeting took place.

The only problem is that inside the group, as of their reading this column, the folks are looking at each other cross-eyed and sideways. At some point, it will be revealed to the planners that they have been under surveillance by federal authorities for quite some time. In fact, they don’t even realize that when they arrived at Boston’s Logan International Airport, they had ghosts walking with them.

Why is it important for this story to be written? Because of what Booker T Hodges and others have said for some time: It is way past time for transparency and to truly care for the community at large that these self-proclaimed leaders are supposed to serve, not serve the “leadership community.” The goal should be our safe streets, not their safe bank accounts.

For more background, we list earlier columns — from 2010: February 10, June 9, and July 7; from 2006: July 19, August 16, March 1, May 10, July 5, October 11, and November 22.

We hope the Minneapolis Council of Churches will do the right thing. Let us hope that consultation is with their conscience and their God, and not with the institutions and members of profit and corruption. We pray for all those involved in this season of the Savior, in the tradition of justice and righteousness. Happy holidays.

Vikings en route to California?

When the Dome collapsed early Sunday morning on the Mall of America Field, dumping snow onto the field, was the legal door opened for Ziggy Wilf to pull up stakes and take our beloved Vikings to the greater Los Angeles area?

We noticed that all of the media in the Twin Cities have stayed away from “breach of contract.” It was no accident that during the Vikings’ 21-3 defeat to the Giants in Detroit, Ziggy Wilf was caught constantly looking up at the roof and all of the other amenities. He probably, this close to Christmas, had delusions of profit dancing in his head.

And it must have been tough that because of a breach of contract by the Metropolitan Facilities Commission, Ziggy Wilf had just taken a financial bath in the cold rotunda of Detroit, Michigan, not to mention the cold bath he’ll take in the University of Minnesota’s outdoor TCM Stadium.

Sounds confusing, doesn’t it? But thank God for the University of Minnesota. Ziggy is looking for something in his Christmas stocking. Will he get it from Minnesota or Los Angeles? See here and here.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at http://www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted December 23, 2010,10:20 p.m.


December 15, 2010 Column #50: Minneapolis Continues its Fairy Tale of Compliance. Only painful sanctions will make these tales come true.

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

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

“There they go again” can be the only statement to make about Minneapolis, as it again demonstrates its fairy tale that it meets its own compliance laws. In reality, it continues to deny African Americans equal access and equal job opportunity in Minneapolis. Despite the April 18, 2010 Diversity Study presented to the City Council on November 4, 2010, the city is essentially still saying: no. (see my earlier columns on the Diversity Study, November 17, 2010 and November 24, 2010).

The key conclusion of the Diversity Study was made very clear: “Minneapolis currently does not monitor compliance during performance.” The historic Minneapolis formula: promise to comply, and then don’t. The Diversity Study counter formula recommendation: commit to compliance; monitor to show compliance; pay severe penalties if compliance is not done.

No one has made the city do so before. Without sanctions it won’t. The new “Oversight” committee of the School District seems to say that no one but the African American community cares, and who cares about them? The community cares and has stepped up by putting a Community Benefits Agreement for compliance on the table of the committee appointed two months ago to oversee the construction of the new Education Services Center.

The irony is that this committee, The Minority, Women and Diverse Business Participation Oversight Committee (MWD-POC), includes, as one of the individuals to continue the tradition of noncompliance, Velma Korvel, Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.

The City’s Director of Diversity and Mortenson’s Director of Community Affairs announced the City’s very ambitious goal: 25% minority participation, with all the traditional googledygook of statements about intent to do right by the community. There were plenty of clues showing they don’t mean it.

First clue: making community input hard. Don Allen, another City journalist, and myself made unsuccessful inquiries about when the Oversight Committee would meet. Finally, the District’s Media Relations Pubic Affairs Office sent out on December 2nd, an announcement of an Oversight Committee meeting to receive public input, to be held at the District’s 807 E Broadway building, on December 7, 2010, at 8:30 am, with speakers limited to three minutes each.

Second clue: eleven people showed up besides the committee, five being from the community, of whom three spoke. It was as if the Oversight Committee didn’t want community input and were surprised people showed up. The meeting: 90 minutes. Community input: 9 minutes.

Third clue: no one who actually lives in North Minneapolis is on the oversight committee.

Fourth clue: the shock and dismay on the faces of the committee when Don Allen, a media and communications consultant, presented them with a Community Benefits Agreement that reflected the recommendations of the Diversity Study: sanctions if monitoring shows non-compliance. Proposed on p. 7 of the CBA: put up a $25 million bond before construction, to be forfeited to the African American Educational Trust Fund if the diversity goals are not met on the new MPS Educational Services Building (see my columns of May 5, 2010 and my column of May 26, 2010).

The Agreement follows the successful template of the CBA used in Los Angeles on behalf of the community regarding the construction of the LA Airport expansion.

The individuals who brought this Community Benefits Agreement have clearly followed the advice of Booker T. Hodges, President of the local branch of the NAACP: cut out the traditional hustlers who purport to be leaders of the African American community but who, in reality, rip it off. Page 17 of the Diversity Study recommendations states: “it is critical that these commitments be monitored and that these sanctions for noncompliance be available.” In other words, there will never be compliance with any goal so long as there are no penalties, sanctions or consequences for not meeting stated goals.

As Mr. Hodges pointed out in this paper two weeks ago, if we allow the traditional fixers to be involved, compliance won’t happen. This CBA is the property of the African American community, not the fixers. It should be treated as a national treasure, not to be abused nor betrayed. The community understands and justly demands that penalties and sanctions be in place.

White corporate America does this all the time. For example, with foreclosures, banks and lending institutions tell people of color that if they don’t meet their obligations they will lose their homes. We don’t think it should be any different in the quest for construction job compliance in Minneapolis, a city that has become legendary and notorious for noncompliance in supporting the interests and the franchise of the African American.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted December 15, 2010, 2:25 pm


December 08, 2010 Column #49: Days that will live in infamy.
Our ‘friends’ continue to devastate the African American community

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

December 7, 1941 is the day then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said “will live in infamy,” the day of Japan’s devastating attack on American military and civilian facilities in Hawaii that ushered the United States into World War II.

December 9 and 10, 2010 of this week will go down as continuing the days of infamy in Minneapolis, as once again the Minneapolis City Council and the Office of the Mayor will sign off on continuing the devastating dismantling of economic opportunity for the African American community in Minneapolis. Just as the Japanese warlords planned for the events of December 7, 1941, as seen in later documents that were found that brought to light their devious plan to bring about the demise of the United States of America, so too with new documents found regarding how Minneapolis continues to execute its plans to dismantle African American neighborhoods.

When you add the lost lives due to decades of denying equal access to education, jobs and opportunities, and the lost lives due to decades of public policy enabling a culture of drugs and violence in the 69 years since 1941, you have decades of devastation as deadly and consequential as 1941.

Two years ago, I uncovered and reported in this column the document outlining the plan to dismantle education, jobs and economic opportunity in the African American community. The plan, dated April 18, 2008, was submitted to the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor R.T. Rybak by the then-director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, Michael Jordan. It was a plan to accelerate the economic rape of the Minneapolis African American community.

The “Disparity Report” of June 6, 1010 by the National Economic Institute of Washington, D.C. (“The State of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise: Evidence from Minneapolis”), presented to the city council November 4, 2010, exposes the fraudulent reporting in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Contract Compliance Unit Reports going back to April 18, 2008.

For two years I have reported this horrendous plan in this column, a plan equivalent to genocide on several levels. Mr. Jordan’s 2008 report pointed out, in an almost cavalier manner, that the City has paid out and awarded the White contractors and vendors $659 million, and alleged that $11 million had gone to MBEs (Minority Business Enterprises).

Bad enough even if that were true — only 1.6 percent of the total. But we now know it is not so; the “Disparity Report” reveals even the $11 million figure to be bogus.

At least 20 times in his report of April 18, 2008 Mr. Jordan makes reference to “monitoring,” “compliance with,” and “increased opportunities for MBE’s.” The “Disparity Report” proves all of this information was also a contrivance, part of the grand scheme, all part of a giant policy ponzi scheme.

How much longer will the African American community invest its support in the Democratic Party’s broken promises of equal access and equal opportunity in education and jobs? We get promises followed by sneak attacks on our community. The African American community has believed in and with great loyalty committed itself to the support of the Democratic Party and its agenda, because we are always on the agenda — an agenda that is then not followed.

History shows that just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Imperial Japan and the United States considered themselves to be friends and allies. It has been no different in the relationship in this city between the African American community under siege and a Democratic Party that takes its relationship with the African American community for granted.

The documentation of proof is in place. The many articles I’ve written about it for years that have been dismissed by the City and African American “leaders” dependent on the City are now shown, in the “Disparity Study,” to be true (see my past two columns of November 17 and 24).

Just as there were agents of deceit and betrayal seated in Tokyo in 1940, agents are also in the conference rooms and hallways of Minneapolis City Hall still today. Their deceit shall also live forever in infamy as we remember both April 18, 2008, and December 9 and 10, 2010.

Let the world pray for the salvation and survival of the African American in Minnesota.

Last week in this paper (December 2), Minneapolis Branch NAACP President Booker T Hodges wrote of so-called leaders in our community who cooperate with the City in the devastation of our community. Does this mean the NAACP is ready to wake up and smell the truth, and work to forgive, reconcile, and act together to put our community first?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010, 2:44 a.m.


December 01, 2010 Column #48: Explosion on the Vikings plantation

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

Sometimes you get what you did not wish for. We watched with great interest over the last three weeks as local fans and media called for the firing of Brad Childress. We wondered if the Vikings faithful understood what they were asking for: the promotion to head coach of the Black guy, Leslie Frazier, which would be the result of firing Childress.

Let’s be honest, my friends: the White press corps in Minneapolis didn’t see it coming.

The ownership of the Vikings didn’t have a lot of choice.

They are getting a quality “interim head coach” for a bargain basement salary (Coach Frazier won a Super Bowl as a player with Chicago and as a coach with Tony Dungy in Indianapolis; Dungy was Vikings defensive coordinator under Dennis Green). Don’t feel sorry for Brad. He will be paid $6.6 million to not coach the Minnesota Vikings.

As I wrote in this column on Sept 2, 2010, anyone with a minimal understanding of the psyche of professional sports saw this coming. In fact, I subscribe to the following: I don’t think it was Brad Childress who send the three White players to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, but Ziggy Wilf listening to the rhetoric of the White press corps in the Twin Cities.

One of the most troubling issues that was a part of the undercurrent leading to the collapse of the Vikings was the Tavaris Jackson bashing.

Jackson was in the top five of quarterbacks drafted in 2006 (two teams expressed anger that they didn’t get him). The Twin Cities media continued its bashing, turning the fans against Jackson and Childress, ignoring the problems they helped create in the locker room, which then spilled over onto the playing field, resulting in a 3-7 record, despite 10 Pro Bowl players.

Tavaris Jackson doesn’t deserve White media’s attacks and disrespect.

Brad Childress may be the smartest individual in this tawdry story because of two of his important decisions. First, he called out the racism surrounding the attacks on Tavaris Jackson regarding the starting of a Black quarterback.

Oh, I know, we’ve had All-Pro Black quarterbacks like Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, and Daunte Culpepper, but they were started by Black Head Coach Dennis Green. For White Minnesota, old philosophies like racism die hard, and Brad Childress recognized this.

Secondly, Brad Childress recognized Frazier’s value as a coach and a professional and made him assistant head coach and defensive coordinator a couple of years ago. Leslie Frazier has become a poster child for the abuse by NFL teams of the Rooney Rule (also interview minorities for head coaching positions), making Frazier the token minority interviewee seven times so they could then hire their desired White coaches.

When Brad Childress elevated Frazier, folks didn’t realize he was locking the Vikings into no other choice, so that if a coaching decision was made during the season, it would be the Black guy, Leslie Frazier, who would take over as head coach. And now, at long last, he has a chance to demonstrate what he can do. Leslie Frazier becomes only the second African American head coach to lead the Minnesota Vikings, the first being the legendary and very successful Dennis Green.

So despite tremors on the Vikings Plantation, the man who would represent the Frederick Douglass of his time has walked out of the mist of the unfairness of discrimination to finally get his chance at fairness. It is my belief that Leslie Frazier can turn it around, that he will have a successful audition in this second half of the NFL season.

So this is an interesting turn in history for a franchise that was extremely cocky in August of this year when it brought back quarterback Brett Favre despite how much his physical skills had slipped.

So, in closing, let us all wish Leslie Frazier nothing but the best. Now it’s up to the players, led by their 10 All-Pro players, to decide they can get it done and close with one of the greatest finishes in the history of the Vikings franchise, a finish that may be their last hurrah, as the Vikings may not be here in 2012, as many are on the verge of getting another thing they wish for, the Vikings joining our Lakers in Los Angeles.

Let’s reflect on how thankful we are for the 50 years of excitement, joy and wonderful Vikings memories, something that cannot be taken from us regardless of whether or not the Vikings team is taken from us. For more on the will they leave or stay question, see here and here.

Stay tuned.


November 24, 2010 Column #47: Disparity Study reveals City failed to monitor hiring, contracting jobs and income. Result for Blacks: shameful loss of jobs and income.

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

My last column of November 18 was Part I of my examination of one of the most outrageous misrepresentations and miscarriages of racial justice (the denial of jobs) in the history of the City of Minneapolis. I refer to the “disparity study” (“The State of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise: Evidence from Minneapolis”) of October 21, 2010 that was presented to the city council on November 4 (I was there).

Clearly, the guardians do no guarding: Minneapolis has not engaged in any “monitoring compliance during performance” in contracts and employment.

This Part II continues the tawdry story of Minneapolis’ open season for denying jobs to Blacks. Recall the City’s infamous and to date still not repudiated statement that Minneapolis can meet its minority compliance requirements without hiring any African Americans. Translation:  Give the M/WBE (Minority/Women’s Business Enterprises) contracts to White women and other minorities that are not African Americans.

It was no accident that the Civil Rights Department did not report the disparity study’s recommendations to the city council for how to resolve these outrages against African Americans. On pages 16-17 we read what exposes liberal Minneapolis as an infamous, illiberal house of cards of deceit, misrepresentation, obstruction and lies, enabling the denial of jobs and, thus, the rape of African American economic opportunities (emphases added):

“A critical element of Program integrity and success is the complete monitoring of prime contractors’ commitments to utilize M/WBEs. Minneapolis currently does not monitor compliance during performance; contractors’ utilization is reviewed at contract closeout. This is too late to correct any deficiencies and ensure that M/WBEs are treated fairly on the contract. After a contract with M/WBE commitments has been awarded, it is critical that those commitments be monitored and that sanctions for non-conformance with the contract be available.”

The new director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, Velma Korbel, in response to my columns, talked in terms of the wonderful success in awarding contracts and distributing dollars to communities of color, specifically, the African American community, continuing the decade-long practice by her and her predecessors of lying to the city council and the pubic at large who, in turn, wink back.

This explains the perception that all is OK, as there have never been any penalties or sanctions for noncompliance. Since 1999, the City of Minneapolis (mayor’s office, city council, and all City departments together) has perpetrated one of the greatest civil rights and contract compliance shams in our history: submitting false monitoring reports in order to hide the denial of  jobs and income to African Americans

As I have asked numerous times in this column since 2005, where did the false numbers used to demonstrate compliance come from, and who is responsible to audit and to authenticate the numbers that have been used to demonstrate “success” for communities of color? What did they use to falsely certify their reported numbers of workers, hours worked, contracts awarded, and dollars paid out? 

Reflect again on the statement, “Minneapolis currently does not monitor compliance during performance. That means that during the planning and actual construction, be it the Twins Stadium, Children’s Hospital, Target Center, Light Rail, or any other project, there was never any monitoring, no checks and balances. The numbers about dollars, hours worked, or persons hired were created out of thin air to serve the political landscape. 

The report numbers were/are bogus while the dollars being passed through and kicked back are real. The biggest cover up, besides denial of access to jobs, is that the few African Americans that were used were not paid wages or salary commensurate with their White counterparts with the same skills working the same jobs with the same classifications. 

This is the tip of the iceberg.  The frightening question about how much and how often such false information of “success” was being fed to the general public that cannot be confirmed or verified regarding hiring compliance of African Americans also extends to the question of how many City reports falsely report about programs of interest to Whites.

“Leadership” in the Halls of Black Power and in the Corridors of White Manipulation continues to participate in this sham. Black and White “leaders” have been and are partners in this illusion, creating a great fog to conceal denying and blocking jobs and economic partnership with the City of Minneapolis, which is equivalent to being a violent economic rape of the African American community.

The disparity report reflects the shame that has fallen on the House of Liberalism as it keeps shouting “wait” to African Americans about their dreams. Will the Civil Rights Commission or the city council call for hearings?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wed, Nov 24, 2010, 11:54 p.m.


November 17, 2010 Column #46: Disparity study finally released. It took 15 years to tell us what we already knew.

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

Pull quote: The report confirms the economic rape of the African American community and the denial of its access to the wealth of this city.

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

“Disparities found in Mpls. contract awards” was the Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 headline in the Star Tribune about a study kept under wraps for five years, a study which cost $500,000 and took five years to complete.

The disparity problem is also a moral and a justice problem. And it is all “legal,” institutionalized by the DFL and accepted by Black organizations no longer fighting for civil rights, as seen in the now-infamous 2008 statement of the former director of the Minneapolis Office of Civil Rights — that the City can meet its minority hiring compliance requirements without hiring a single African American.

This damning report, 282 pages with 17 additional pages of recommendations, tells a horrifying story of people of color, particularly African Americans.

The City has made it hard to get to the report. Even Dept. of Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel, during her appearance before the city council on November 4, admitted the difficulty accessing these 300 pages online, given the online access process established by the City. It took hard work, tenaciousness and persistence, but I have obtained a copy of this report.

Recall that I have I written numerous columns calling attention to and warning about this longstanding disaster (see my web log entry of August 28, 2009, in which I list 12 of the columns I’ve written on this subject since 2005).

We have been denied access to over $5 billion in projects, a denial that condemns African Americans to the kind of poverty and economic downturn that has ripped the heart out of the African American communities and other communities of color. When you deny people education and jobs, you condemn them to poverty.

The so-called protected classes — people of color and women — represent 22 percent of those eligible but only represent 5.5 percent of those receiving contracts and money from the City for minority and women-owned businesses and enterprises.

But what is even more troubling is the initial headline that I thought about using for this column: “Black folk work for slave wages.” Another deeply troubling aspect of the report is that, in this land of Hubert Humphrey and model liberalism, the City of Minneapolis has accepted African Americans receiving almost 40 percent less in compensation and salary than their White counterparts.
This has been going on ever since Reconstruction in the South and the wave of Blacks immigrating North. This has been known by civic leaders, civil rights leaders, and political and religious leaders, and executed most often by these same leaders and the Democratic Party.

It was no accident that the City of Minneapolis made no great effort over the past 15 years [since the last disparity study] to analyze the obvious lack of access and lack of opportunity for African Americans in the very lucrative industry of contracts and enterprise opportunities.

Thus, in addition to Michael Jordan’s 2008 statement that the City of Minneapolis can meet its diversity goals without ever having to hire a single African American, he and others should have added that one other thing is guaranteed: Even if hired for the same work with the same qualifications and dreams, African Americans will not be paid the same wage as Whites.

This 300-page disparity study gives us a better understanding of why, over the years, figures are fudged, numbers changed, and documents become “unable” to be produced. The City and its various departments dealing with economic development and the awarding of contracts have not wanted us to know how they shortchange the African American community.

The report confirms the economic rape of the African American community and the denial of its access to the wealth of this city. And, my friends, this was not done by the Tea Party or a bunch of mean-spirited political hacks.

This was done, and is still being done, by the political cream of liberalism in Minneapolis. Hubert H. Humphrey, Cecil Newman and Nellie Stone Johnson, among others, would weep tears of shock and disappointment at this testament to the violation of justice and dreams of the African American community.

What will be done? As long as so-called Black leadership does nothing other than see that they “get theirs,” nothing.

The report’s recommendations have no teeth or commitment for corrective action. It reflects the words of 1948 segregationists: Not yesterday, not today, not tomorrow will the Negro be given the opportunity to enjoy wealth and dreams. What and who does liberalism stand for in our time today?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 1:26 p.m.


November 10, 2010 Column #45: Federal jury finds Dominic Felder’s death wrongful. Unfortunately, the dark forces that took his life remain at large.

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

The wrongful death of Dominic Felder at the hands of Minneapolis police on September 20, 2006, along the 3900 block of Bloomington Avenue South, cannot be reversed. But a measure of justice was received by his family when a federal jury awarded them $1.8 million for his wrongful death, as reported by the Star Tribune on October 25 Family of man killed by Minneapolis police awarded $1.8M).

When others took a different view four years ago, this paper stood for the fight for justice (see my September 27, 2006 column Loss of Life, Death of Another Dream).  In my January 3, 2007 column, I called the city’s treatment of the case “a whitewash” and “a cover-up”.
White and Black leaders ignored it and refused to stand up for justice. Alone in Minneapolis, this paper maintained its long-held stand for justice. 

In that January 3, 2007 column, I wrote that “At some point in time…the truth will become known. And hopefully, within the lifetime of his two children, justice for them and their late father will come about." Now it has, four years later.

Dominic Felder was killed just five weeks after the police committed another wrongful killing, that of Fong Lee (see my column of October 6, 2010).  At the time of these police homicides, I was serving as co-chair of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC), a committee formed because of ongoing hostilities between communities of color and the City of Minneapolis and its police department. These killings are but two examples.

When I arrived at the scene of Dominic Felder’s death, a four-block perimeter had already been set up. That told me that either there had been a running gun battle or there was a need for a cover-up. Last week, four years later, a federal jury pulled the cover back to expose the wrongful death. 

The jury verdict enabled the historic award to Dominic Felder’s family of $1.8 million, the largest compensation in Minnesota for the wrongful death of an African American by police. (The largest compensation settlement ever paid was $4.2 million to Duy Ngo, shot in 2003.)

I knew that my call for justice in my column of January 3, 2007 would be a lonely and controversial piece. I persevered despite many who believed there would never be justice for the two young daughters of Dominic Felder. But sometimes the hand of justice is extended to an African American.

But here is what’s most disturbing and troubling: At the end of the day, despite a few days’ suspension, the same two police officers responsible for Dominic Felder’s wrongful death will be patrolling our streets. Their same chief will be encouraging their mayhem and misconduct, and the same city council will be confirming that chief.

The same mayor will be giving aid and comfort to their acts of injustice and violence, and the same taxpayers will have to pay for their actions. And so, in the final analysis, the dark forces of terror will still have a free pass to end the lives and the dreams of African American citizens.

Quincy Smith, David Cornelius Smith, Montel Williams and others, by virtue of their deaths at the hands of police, confirm this observation. City officials know the money won’t come out of their pockets. The system is fixed so that the taxpayers bail out the lawsuits.

You have to remember, my friends, that this was a civil case. The county attorney intentionally botched the criminal case, and the so-called “leadership” of our community did not step up front and center to call for justice. Only the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder held firm to its longstanding commitment to social justice. 

The perseverance of Dominic Felder’s family and attorneys enabled this quest for justice to finally come to trial. The hard work of the attorneys laying out all of the facts, including the contradictory statements of the police, enabled the jury to give the verdict that, in the taking of Mr. Felder’s life, there was also a violation of his civil rights.

Our prayers and best wishes are with the family of Dominic Felder. May his soul and his legacy rest a little more peacefully in the halls of justice.

Vikings: Metrodome or leave?
The 10-25-10 Star Tribune reported Minnesota Poll:  Most oppose new Vikings stadium.  When will the Star Tribune join the call to save the Vikings (see my 1-26-05 column)? Or are they still on the 2003 list calling for the Vikings to leave?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Sunday, November 28, 2010, 11 p.m., after error of posting Nov 3, 2010 a second time, Friday, November 12, 2010, 8:55 p.m.


November 03, 2010 Column #44: Top Republican goal: Get rid of the Black guy. This election highlights the continuing impact of race on our politics.

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

As I write late on election night, November 2, 2010, Republicans have won back control of the U.S. House and Democrats have retained control of the U.S. Senate. It could mean the opportunity for the compromise voters obviously are hoping for. It could also mean gridlock, especially if the Republicans remain bent on “crushing” Barack Obama into a one-term president (Senator Mitch McConnell’s stated goal).

My concern is that any “mandate” Republicans feel will damage the stability of the United States over the next 26 months. Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky laid it out best when he indicated that their goal is to crush President Barack Obama at any cost.

This is not a sporting event. Trying to crush a president risks crushing the people themselves and their nation.

What will be the state of America and the world that the Republicans will bring about over the next two years? Will employment be up? Will Americans feel more comfortable with big government (which got bigger under Bush)? Will welfare reform remain in place? Will America’s foreign policy cause Americans to feel safe at home and abroad?

The questions continue: Will Iraq and Afghanistan be stabilized (as they were not under Bush, who began those wars)? Will all of America’s troops be withdrawn? Will Iran or Israel or both be under physical attack?

What will China’s relationship be with America? Will the immigration problem be solved? What will America’s relationship be in the Americas (South and Central America and the Caribbean)?

The answers, to hear Republics talk, is that under their control everything will be copasetic. America will be safe again, there will be more jobs than ever before, the housing crisis will end, and the outsourcing of jobs will stop with jobs returning from overseas.

If all of these things are not in place in 2012, we know the Republicans will blame Barack Obama, as the rationale will be that he could not get the job done. Of course, we know that is ridiculous. Voters are asking Obama to undo in two years what Bush did in eight years, when Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States on January 20, 2009.

Nonetheless, it is also clear, as I have been saying in this column for the past year and as Republicans now admit, that they put together a master plan with just one goal: to make President Barack Obama a one-term president.

That one goal should be jobs, but this is not about logic or clear thinking. It is about the elephant in the room, the impact of race. This is seen in Republicans declaring that their goal is to destroy Barack Obama and his administration.

Concentrating on 2012 instead of on now could undermine the nation’s security, strength, job growth and prosperity. The Republicans’ attitude seems to be that, heck, if it means getting rid of the Black guy, we’ll do whatever is necessary and just rewrite history.

This kind of thinking is that of the foolish daydreamer or someone who’s gone to an opium den, truly the fog and cloud of an unreal wish world. The president’s actions in the days immediately following his inauguration helped stabilize this nation. He saved big banks, big business, big corporate, and he certainly saved a lot of jobs as he prevented a worldwide economic collapse.

That’s the reason the rest of the world concurred when he received the Nobel Prize in 2009. They recognized he was the man for the times; but unfortunately, in America there are too many who still play the race card, resulting in that taking precedence over doing the right thing.

So, I am sad this election night, November 2, 2010. I don’t want what these voters want.

What will voters want in 2012? As an African American, it looks to me as if we are powerless to do anything about it this year. African Americans need to prepare to be more involved in 2012.

“We have a powerful potential,” said Mary McLeod Methune, “and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.”

"People who don't vote have no line of credit with people who are elected and thus pose no threat to those who act against our interests,” said Marian Wright Edelman.

"The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter," said Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"Our only hope is to control the vote," said Medgar Evers.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Nov. 8, 2010, 12:20 p.m.


October 27, 2010 Column #43: The Attempt to Oust the NAACP President. Why?

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

The Black “leadership” of Minneapolis continues their efforts to run a mini-plantation. I say to them: let my people go.

These self-proclaimed leaders have been meeting to strategize how to kick Booker T. Hodges out of his office as President of our local NAACP. Mr. Hodges spoke what was on many people’s minds when the Star Tribune wrote an October 14, 2010 article about his statement, igniting the eruption of another firestorm related to the closing of North High School. Instead of journalism, the article expressed a bias against President Hodges.

These same self proclaimed “leaders” read Chapter 14 (Black Organizations: Now Part of the Problem Rather than the Solution) of my 2002 book (“The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes”) and then rather than fix things had me expelled from the NAACP (no one has yet said it was inaccurate). Now they are after Mr. Hodges’ right to free speech.

I was very interested in the comments the Star Tribune attributed to Chris Stewart, outgoing Board of Education Director, as the new vision, new direction, and new hoped for success he proclaimed four years ago never happened.

Mr. Hodges, up for re-election this November, merely stated what was on the minds of many, as revealed even more by actions of parents.

I attended the meeting on saving North High School (400 attended, 50 spoke) on Monday the 18th. A revealing chart showed significant decline in North High enrollment of almost 1,400 students since 2002. No surprise: in this column over two years ago, in my column of June 11, 2008, in this newspaper, identified this dangerous pattern.

If Councilman Samuels can say “burn the school down,” certainly Mr. Hodges has the right to present a much more humane option. And so it has not been surprising that meetings have been held by Black “leaders” and representatives of the school district regarding ousting NAACP President, Booker T. Hodges. My question remains: why?

Was there something Mr. Hodges said that was inaccurate? How would the school district or these “leaders” know differently when they never carried out “exit interviews” with the students and families who left? The school district was too busy encouraging students to transfer, hastening the gentrification: turning Black neighborhoods into White ones. Again, I ask, why?

Why is what the President of the NAACP said, expressing his opinion about what he has heard, treated as such an egregious offense that school and community “leaders” have to meet to talk about ousting him? Why kill the messenger? Why continue to avoid seeking solutions and better understanding of how to provide real education success that has long been denied to many African American students, as admitted to by Council President Johnson. Again I ask, why?

I call Council President Barb Johnson’s comment in the Star Tribune article that the enrollment and achievement problems have been known for years “a smoking gun”: known and accepted by the Council with no action taken to fix it. With this city’s attitude, is it any wonder voters no longer trust the district to educate their children, build their self esteem, and to guaranteed their success? Let’s stop making it politically and morally dangerous to talk about the reality of the mis-education of the African American student. Are there grounds to remove this sitting NAACP President? I say no.

Even though the NAACP has not always been all that we have wanted it to be, the continued failures and obstructions placed in the path of Black success in Minneapolis says that a lot of institutions have purposefully changed focus to the detriment of our community. Mr. Hodges should be listened to just as those who left should have been interviewed and listened to. Clearly, those victims’ observations would reflect the failures of the system that need to be corrected. Those who left would have offered some solutions, my friends, and it is embarrassing that they were not respected and listened to.

The strategy to introduce charter schools into the community as a substitute to public education is understandable but not acceptable as a first step, based on the legacy of public education in America. We are fast approaching that dark past when it was said that the children of the African American should not be concerned nor interested in being educated beyond the 7th or 8th grade. That is totally unacceptable and extremely immoral, and presents significant and dangerous tremors within the foundation of the democratic institutions and the democracy that we have all come to expect will protect all of our rights equally.

Stay tuned.

[See my critique of Minneapolis education and my recommended education solutions.]

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and "Tracking the Gaps" web log. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Wednesday, 10-27-10, 8:35 p.m.


October 20, 2010 Column #42: A betrayal of trust: the closing of North High School

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

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

The latest in the continuing betrayal of education in our community, this time the closing of North High School, occurred in the Minneapolis School Administration Headquarters Assembly Room at 807 Broadway. I attended the meeting, which was filled to capacity by 5:30 pm Tuesday, October 12 (with overflow in two other large rooms with closed circuit TV).

As our beloved Nellie Stone Johnson, co-founder of the DFL, always made clear, the pathway to mainstream American prosperity and economic development starts with education: “no education, no jobs, no housing.”

Those surprised by the superintendent/board saying North High would be closed are among those who refused to hear my June 11, 2008 column: “How can we save North High School?” Its end looks near, a sacrifice to Northside gentrification. Here we have a four-way betrayal: education, Black young people, North High, and Black neighborhoods being changed to White.

They also refused to hear my 2002 book’s chapter on education: “…Clubbing the Cubs Into Inferiority and Helplessness: Stop the Clubbing and Teach Skills, Optimism, and Hope." And today, Minneapolis still fails African American students and their communities with the triple whammy of poor education, not hiring Blacks, and gentrifying Black housing to White.

Every TV station was there on Tuesday — public radio, too. The lame duck board of directors was in place to receive statements from those who were gathered, but the board chairman was conspicuous by his absence as the strategy to have an outgoing member serve as chairman and gavel things to order backfired.

Then Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson attempted to present her anticipated recommendation to close North High, setting off an eruption of the underlying volatility. One board member referred to the crowd of Blacks and Whites as being driven by emotion.

Yes, emotion was present, but also present were facts, details, recommendations and history. Speaker after speaker blasted the district's decision and expressed their feeling that a trust had been betrayed, and that the future of the education of the African American community continued at risk.

During her formal presentation, Superintendent Johnson was interrupted seven or eight times, causing the presiding chair to threaten to suspend the meeting. He didn't. I think he understood that such a reckless action would create consequences far beyond what the district, city and others had planned for.

Most troubling was the absence of the leaders of civil rights organizations, including the absence of Black ecumenical leaders. In my 50 years as an advocate for the African American community, I have never seen an issue of such magnitude to the community be so debased and ignored by the total absence of the Black religious leadership.

This absence is understandable. One of the agenda items of the Oct. 12 board meeting was the awarding of contracts to build the district's new headquarters along the 1200 block of West Broadway in North Minneapolis, and the appointment of a special oversight committee to guarantee the employment of African Americans in the construction of the District's $27.5 million crystal palace.

These Black religious leaders don’t want people to see how much they receive for signing off on continued failure. It is no accident that one of the members of the oversight committee heads the church that is across the street from the planned headquarters, and another member heads up one of the most incompetent Civil Rights Departments in the United States.

The result? Silence from those who used to have a commitment to pursue justice for the African American community.

The politics of it all revealed itself within minutes of Superintendent Johnson completing her recommendation. It was blocked from being acted on by an incumbent board member who quickly moved to ask the superintendent to withdraw her recommendation pending a more in-depth examination of the recommendation.

Just as extremely outrageous and disingenuous as the superintendent going public with her recommendation earlier (the seven board members had already given her a thumbs up) was the reality of the political damage: throwing the superintendent under the bus by those who had helped her develop her significant and historical plan of betraying the community's trust, a community that believed in her and believed that her word was gospel, that she acted with integrity and forethought. But it appears that, in the final moments of her presentation, political decisions were made to sacrifice her, as have many other African Americans been sacrificed.

Nellie Stone Johnson trusted we'd get education right sooner rather than later. Why do so many violate the sense and sensibility of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s book title, Why We Can't Wait?

Stay turned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at http://www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted Saturday, October 23, 9:05 p.m.


October 13, 2010 Column #41: Hospital sends severely injured Black man home to dietoo many questions remain unanswered

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

“A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.”
— Samuel Johnson, 18th century

Part of the doctors’ Hippocratic Oath (medical ethics) from the fifth century BCE states, “I will never do harm to anyone…[working] for the good of my patients.” Why, then, did North Memorial Hospital turn out a poor African American, 42-year-old El Daral Johnson, and send him home without the care he needed to live, resulting in his death a day later?

They knew he had been terribly injured when, with a crowd of others, he was run down by a car driven by 27-year-old ex-con Amecio N. Enge, which killed 35 year old Maurice Meeks. As in the Bible story of the Good Samaritan, Mr. Johnson was left unattended as North Memorial medical personnel passed him by.

Samuel Johnson also said, “No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous.” Federal and state legislators and city officials have a Cadillac healthcare plan at taxpayer expense. North Memorial receives millions of taxpayer-funded federal and state grants. Mr. Johnson was one of those taxpayers.

But Mr. Johnson was poor and Black.

The Sunday, October 3 Star Tribune read, “Driver just ran people over, 1 dead.” The driver plowed into a crowd that included, as noted, Mr. Meeks (who died on the way to the hospital) and Mr. Johnson, critically injured yet sent home despite serious injuries, where he died the next day.

It was clear we had another homicide, and that the person who caused this death was operating his vehicle with absolute rage and intent. North Memorial is just as guilty as Amecio Enge in the homicide of Mr. Johnson. Were they operating based on uncivilized policies with non-virtuous personnel?

The Star Tribune story was comprehensive and in-depth. A number of witnesses to the group of 10 people who were plowed into by the car gave descriptive accounts of the mayhem. You could not imagine the shock and dismay that I felt after reading Wednesday’s edition of the Star Tribune, which reported that, Mr. Johnson, severely injured in that incident, had died sometime Monday night at his home.

I went back and reviewed the story of Sunday. I called the reporter who helped write the story in order to verify the Star Tribune’s report. I talked to witnesses to gain an opportunity to gauge the medical status of Mr. Johnson.

I learned that he was unresponsive, semi-conscious, and bleeding from his nose, mouth and areas of his head, and that he had broken bones and burns. According to these witnesses, he had been dragged by the car, estimated to have been traveling at least 60 miles per hour when it struck the group gathered outside the home in the 1000 block of 39th Avenue N. Mr. Johnson’s body showed the drag marks.

We have heard rumors for many years in the Black community that there are policies in place that purposefully deny adequate health care and emergency attention to people of color and poor people at our private hospitals.

Leading up to the writing of this column, we have attempted to ascertain information on the circumstances that led to Mr. Johnson being forced from the hospital and sent home. By late Wednesday, police were refusing to give information, and North Memorial has been totally uncooperative.

There is something dangerously and perilously wrong with the Black community’s relationship with Minneapolis health providers. Unfortunately, we have no institutions or organizations willing to ask the tough questions and demand answers.

Think about it my friends: A man is sent home unresponsive, semi-conscious, bleeding from his mouth and nose and other parts of his head, with broken bones and burns, his body showing the effects of being hit and dragged by a car going in excess of 60 miles an hour. Then authorities put out the rumor that the man must have died from an overdose of drugs, as released to a Star Tribune reporter on Wednesday the 6th.

Too many questions are unanswered, and, as stated by the relatives of Mr. Meeks, the entire episode cries out for justice. We concur and call for a thorough and honest investigation into the death of African American Mr. Johnson, who should never have been released from medical care in the first place.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at http://www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted October 12, 2010, 11:15 p.m.


October 06, 2010 Column #40: Confusion within the 8th Circuit in the matter of Fong Lee: Justice or Injustice

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

Three weeks ago, supporters of those seeking justice in the Fong Lee case were shocked by the 8th Circuit Court: where it had first ruled it would review the case, the court reversed itself a week later, and, in an official communiqué, ruled that the review would not take place. That decision creates many legal difficulties for supporters of the heirs and next of kin of Fong Lee. Earlier columns are listed below.

But the door is not completely closed, as I have learned that very well connected political forces within the Hmong community have committed their full resources to pursuing justice in this matter. So it is clear that there has been significant political movement in the Hmong communities across the United States in support of the heirs and next of kin of Fong Lee. A very powerful law firm in Texas has come aboard to help in matters pertaining to the appeal of the case identified as 09-2771.

As a result of this very disturbing action by the 8th Circuit, a special request to the United States Supreme Court is being prepared.

A question that demands an answer is this: why did the 8th circuit reverse itself? Did it have to do with the statements on page 14 of the opinion of Aug 12, 2010, as has been previously reported in this column (September 11). In that column serious questions were raised about a clear representation of evidence that was never presented. The court said, in its opinion, that Fong Lee turned with gun in hand toward Officer Anderson in such a way that Anderson believed his life was in danger.

The court identified a video as the source that corroborated Anderson’s testimony that Fong Lee turned towards him as if to fire at the end of his on foot pursuit. I was in the court room in May of 2009, when a video was shown. Frames of that video are the same that appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Dispatch, on April 1, 2009.

Let us be clear: there was never any video shown at trial or during the taking of depositions that showed Fong Lee pointing a gun at Officer Jason Anderson. This, by the way, is the same Jason Anderson that the Star Tribune, City and others reported on Sep 21, 2010, had been fired for conduct unbecoming: he did not tell the truth in the beating of a 16 yr old African American in Chrystal, Minnesota, a little over 2 years ago; so why assume he told the truth about Fong Lee?

Far too many appellate judges do not write their own opinions, too often leaving it to inexperienced law clerks who have not heard the evidence first hand, or who sometimes are very selective and biased in using information provided by the state or the government, as opposed to a balanced presentation of evidence and statements.

Will the United States Supreme Court reverse the reversal and hear the appeal in the matter of the death of Fong Lee? We are not sure. Regardless of what we would like to see happen, the system is the system: it protects itself and far too often it protects its deficiencies and defends its legacy. In this case, the questionable actions within the 8th circuit suggests that the court’s legacy will be that justice and fairness was not paramount, and where expediency and cover-up was the order of the day.

The greater issue is discussed in our column on the case regarding how the judicial system itself is on trial, as I pointed out in my June 10, 2009 column, titled: “Let's admit it: Some judges are bad. Conduct of Fong Lee trial is a case in point.”

Thurgood Marshall, Earl Warren, the Cardosas, and other giants of the Supreme Court would never sign off on such expediency. Their signatures would sign off only on fairness and justice. And that should be the appeal the US Supreme Court should review and make judgment on in the matter pertaining to the July 22, 2006 death of Fong Lee and the serious error in the case by the three judge panel on Aug 12, 2010.

God save the United States of American.

Stay tuned.

See archives for previous columns on Fong Lee: https://www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. 2006: August 2. In 2009: February 8; April 8 and 22; May 20; June 3, 10 and 24; July 1 and 29; and September 17 and 21. 2010: September 17 and 21. See also my blog entry of April 5, 2009.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!" Saturdays at 4 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at http://www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at http://www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis.

Posted October 12, 2010, 3 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 www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.

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


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

Ron's media message: (1) Column: "Through My Eyes: The Minneapolis Story Continues", published weekly in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.; (2) TV: Host of weekly Black Focus, Sundays, 5-6 pm, on Channel 17, MTN-TV; (3) Blog Talk Radio: Co-Host of weekly “ON POINT!",Saturdays at 5 pm; (4) Book: The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes; (5) Book: A Seat for Everyone: The Freedom Guide that Explores A Vision for Ameria.

Order Ron's books at Beacon on the Hill Press.

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