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Quarter 4: October thru December

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December 31, 2003 Column #20: Decision Time is Near: Selection of the Chief

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

The announcement by the Mayor RT Rybak that he has decided on Chief McManus of Dayton, Ohio as the next Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department has sent shivers through the so-called liberal and conservative communities of Minneapolis. McManus, if you will excuse the expression, was a dark horse. No one thought, no one considered, no one had any vision of this son of Philadelphia and 27 year member of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and two year Chief of the Dayton, Ohio Police Department, as being the finalist. The responsibilities now fall upon the shoulders of the Minneapolis City Council, as stipulated in the Charter. The Council has already sent some signals, some of them rather disturbing with respect to a process and expectations of that process. The Council seems to have been locked into the two White female deputy chiefs. In previous columns, we have talked about and analyzed that on the basis of the information then at hand.

I am not surprised that the Council has not shown a significant amount of enthusiasm for McManus, even though his record as a professional law enforcement officer is outstanding. Even the minor, petty rumors, that circulated within hours of the announcement on the steps inside City Hall, were vicious. The council has a tough decision. We hope that it makes that decision in a spirit of fairness and impartiality. As we continue to say, to do anything less is to render upon the citizens of Minneapolis a stigma they don’t deserve. The process was the process, and although some Council members say they were uncomfortable at the time the process was going on, they showed no great leadership or concern at the time. The process went forward. The process of elimination began. Example: when we in this column two months ago reported that the cut off for qualifications had started at Deputy Chief and below, the City Council raised no concerns that this meant that all qualified African American candidates in the department were eliminated with a stroke of the pen. We would have liked to see the City Council show some vigor and enthusiasm to raise questions about that decision. They chose not to.

For one who has been a long time activist, observer and back bencher, I am a little bit taken back to the reference now to affirmative action by some of our City Council members. I didn’t know that affirmative action still existed in our City Government. I well remember the summer of 2002, when we were talking about the implementation of affirmative action on road contracts for minority contractors on some of the big projects that were under the custody and control of the City of Minneapolis, either directly or indirectly, indirectly being by ordinance. Affirmative Action was not followed, nor has it been in authority of the Civil Rights Department and others. And so now to hear the discussion of the importance of affirmative action and the hand wringing that it does not seem to be alive and well seems to be consistent with our theme that “civil rights has left cit hall; the building is closed.” But let us be positive in conclusion. Let us hope that the council will do the right thing, that William McManus of Philadelphia and lately of Dayton, Ohio will become the next chief of the department. He went through the process. We assume the process was honorable and true, and the process should then honor its commitment to the man that was recommended, William McManus. We wish you a very happy holiday, and we look forward to a continuation of this column in 2004.

New Year’s Resolution for 2004: End the gaps caused by racism, injustice and dream deferral

The Rev. Ian Bethel, who served on the mediation team, said recently, "One of the things I constantly struggle with is the culture of denial that exists in this country when it comes to racism. Even during the mediation process you'd see that denial. There is systematic racism right in front of us and people refuse to see it." The Archbishop of the Twin Cities, in his recent Pastoral Letter on racism, says that, in order to end the “sin of racism,” we need to keep talking with each other about it, then convert that talk into action all the while helping society live by the Golden Rule (which we also outline in Chapters 5 and 17 of our book, a book which documents the racism so all can see it). But denial exists in our community too. Thus, City Pages, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, and the Urban League have engaged the discussion of racism and the accompanying suggestions for working out solutions in The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes. But The Star Tribune, Insight News and the NAACP have not, and are in denial about what the book “sees”. Let us resolve, therefore, to let our willingness to listen to others become greater than our eagerness to shout them down. Then, let us resolve to give a fair hearing to the ideas and suggestions the “common YESes and NOs” in the book and in the “occasional Papers” of, including The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together and Seven Solutions in order to enable us, working together, to close the gaps between Blacks and Whites in terms of education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing and ethical leadership of hope. We are a victorious people who do will not give up on the dream of the possibilities. And what are your resolutions for 2004?

As we look to 2004, we pause to look back to assess what New Years Resolutions should be made in and for our city. As this is both a religious and a secular holiday period, let us end with a new year’s resolution based on the words of St. Paul in Gallatians, that we “Stand fast therefore in liberty ... and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” nor yolk others in the bondage that comes from being denied a good education, denied jobs, and denied housing. Given the historical facts,

Let us all resolve together to repudiate the negative parts of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report and the 1998 The Bell Curve, which state that we are not like others and therefore need to be under the support and direction of the govenment as we can’t make it on our own. Unless we keep that resolution nothing new will transpire.

The archbishop of the Twin Cities agrees with this in his recent Pastoral Letter on racism, in which he says in order to end the “sin of racism,” we need to keep talking with each other about it, then convert that talk into action all the while helping society live by the Golden Rule. We agree whole heartily. Indeed, we emphasize the use of The Golden Rule in Chapter 5 of The Minneapolis Story. As people have asked “how?” we have provided two pieces in the “Occasional Papers” section on our web site, www.TheMinneapolisStory.Com: The Minneapolis Table Building Blocks, to use in discussions for implementing The Seven Solutions Vision, and if we do so, we can renew Minneapolis.

  1. GAPS: Seven areas of education, jobs, housing, public safety, safe environment, governing, ethics. Education (Chapter 7): huge gap in performance between Blacks and Whites in reading/writing/math.
  2. Jobs (Chapter 9): City in non-compliance with Federal and city construction contract system.
  3. Housing (Chapter 8): Hollman as example of razing Black housing to then raise White housing.
  4. Public Safety (Chapter 16, Blog #214): Accepting unrest and disturbance as the acceptable price of maintaining the status quo and using police to keep Blacks in their place.
  5. Safe Environment (Chapters 1, 5, 8): Gap in quality of air/water/soil of Black and White communities.
  6. Governing (Chapter 3, 10, 11-13, Blogs #218 and 227): By courts and councils and boards (gerrymandered redistricting, DFL 1 party rule, city unions, non-profits).
  7. Ethical Leadership of Hope (Chapter 2, 4-6, 14-15, 17, Conclusion): Equal access and opportunity for all with all at the mainstream table, “here, there and everywhere” with racism, bigotry, segregation & discrimination “not here, not there, not anywhere,” using the Golden Rule, Common YESes & NOs.
  8. The Story of America’s Inner Cities As Told by the Example of Minneapolis, MN, as Yesterday’s Questions Haunt Tomorrow’s Answers: High Hopes or Hopeless Helplessness? Dream Fulfillment or Dream Deferment? by Ron Edwards with Peter Jessen
  9. Visit, with its on-going continuation of the Minneapolis Story, weekly columns, daily web log, and occasional papers.
  10. Read black newspapers to get a sense of how the city still follows “legal” and “moral” policies that are corrupted by racist principles (Read: Appenda), which is why white newspapers can't always be trusted, which is why we also need to have in our communities black newspapers (Read: Why American Cities Need Black Newspapers).
  11. Read The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, which carries the weekly column and provides the wider canvas recording and reporting the black experience as it unfolds in Minneapolis.

Establish strategic new spokesmen: (1) those arguing before the courts and advocating in legislatures and city councils, as well as (2) public spokesmen and advocates in communities and meetings, in person and in the print and broadcast and other media. (3) the rest of us holding high hopes for the removal of hopeless helplessness. The reality of the civil rights movement is that its success required both the out front advocacy of leaders like MLK, and the behind the scenes advocates by leaders such as Thurgood Marshall arguing before the courts, especially the Supreme Court, and Clarence Mitchell ("Mr. Civil Rights") tirelessly working the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. to get the votes for civil rights legislation, along with an army of follower-leaders with joy and happiness in their hearts as they march for the good and the positive, for the joy of the dream. This is needed in both Minneapolis as a city and St. Paul as a capital, of people working with the committees, especially their Chairs, in the city and the capital, to promote the kind of laws/regulations/statutes needed to achieve the kind of progress sought: equal access and equal opportunity, especially as it relates to education in the schools (State & city education departments take note), employment in the labor market job sites, and housing in the neighborhoods.

Ubuntu Reconciliation

Let us be clear. Poverty and political disempowerment have existed since the beginning of time. Poverty and political disempowerment are not directly caused by racism. But wherever racism exists, we find uneven is not caused by racism. But racism.

Can we get to where our willingness to listen becomes greater than our eagerness to shout?

We have talked about the gaps. There is a gap in the black community, there is a gap in the white community, and there is a gap between them.

December 17, 2003 Column #19: Will Honor Prevail in Search for Chief?

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

By the time this column appears in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the search for the next chief of police for the City of Minneapolis should be fully engaged. A search of this kind requires significant honor, honesty, integrity and a research of the facts, for the position of chief of the department is both important and extremely sensitive in the relationship of a city to its people.

There is some suspicion today that the search being conducted is one that is not being conducted with honor. There is a sense that the fix is in. There is a sense that the person to be selected is already known. And there is definitely a sense that the four African American candidates who have been identified as finalists don't stand a chance.

We would like to be proven wrong here in this column. If we are, we will apologize. We would like to see a fair and impartial process, and we would like to see a selection that takes place in an honorable fashion, honorable to all communities of color, not just the White color. So far, we haven't seen any of this.

There has been much discussion so far, just as there will be much discussion after this process, with respect to the integrity of the selection process. The African American candidates all have presented great credentials. One has received significant publicity and recognition for his activity and leadership in the tragic events surrounding the sniper case in the Washington, D.C. area.

The others have more than met the requirement to have either led their departments or assumed the second position of command. There are three White candidates, two of whom are internal. Both are females. Already the majority media in this town (White) has insisted, as their part of the "brainwashing" taking place, that the internal candidate would be the best candidate, no matter what.

To me, that says we are wasting our time with the four Black candidates who, as of the writing of this column, are now headquartered in the small hotel behind the Milwaukee depot. Credentials are important. They are laid out in a resume, which must be honest, with no misrepresentation, reflecting what people have really done and what people have achieved. To have anything less is to be disqualified, and it should be interesting in the coming days, for we are down to that, on how the majority media in this town and the mayor will deal with what appears to be some misrepresentation in the resumes of at least one of the candidates. There is nothing much that we in the communities of color can do. In a previous column we talked about the process. The mayor will make his choice and forward it on to the Minneapolis City Council's Executive Committee. If they concur, it will be sent on to the full council for a vote. If they do not concur, there are other procedures that will then come into play. Those who have studied the charter of this city know what they are.

In the meantime, the African American community, which at one point in time thought that there was a serious commitment to fair play, will be left like a bridesmaid at the altar, jilted once again.


With the announcement that Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., as one of the four finalists for the coveted Heisman Trophy, we want to say to both the longtime sports editor of this newspaper and his son: Congratulations for a job well done!

We also took note of the firing of Coach Reeves of Atlanta and the efforts of the local media, particularly Mr. Rosen of WCCO, to make it appear that Coach Denny Green, formerly the outstanding coach of the Minnesota Vikings, has the inside track to become the next coach of the Falcons. Now, Mark Rosen knows that's not true, but it looks like there is an obsession to beat up or disrespect Denny Green under any and all circumstances.

Denny Green is his own man; that's why he was the winningest coach of the 1990s. Denny Green will make the decision where he will go, and he'll do it above board. Mark Rosen: You were never a supporter of Denny Green while he was here. What is this all about, this newfound concern for the future of our former Vikings coach?

Archbishop's Pastoral Letter

We were delighted to see the Star Tribune highlight the Archbishop Harry Flynn's Pastoral Letter on Racism in its November 15 editorial (emphasis added) "Combating bias/Flynn seeks to end 'sin of racism.'" The message from the Archbishop is straightforward: Keep talking, then convert that talk into action to help society live by the Golden Rule.

The top of our web page web log column has read: If we follow The Golden Rule (Chapter 5 of The Minneapolis Story) in using The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together and if we follow the discussions for implementing the Seven Solution areas we can build a Renewed Minneapolis.

Thus, even though in The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes, we advocate using the Golden Rule (Chapter 5), talking about it (p. 323, bottom paragraph), and then taking action (Chapter 17, Interlude 16, Conclusion), and after having discussed racism in Minneapolis in education (Chapter 7), jobs (Chapter 9), housing (Chapter 8), public safety (Chapter 16), governing (Chapters 11-13) and ethics (Chapters 5-6, 10, 14-15), the Star Tribune, still refuses to recognize, acknowledge or discuss the book. That in itself is a story of racism, in my eyes.

December 3, 2003 Column #18: Police-Community Mediation Goes Public

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

How Will The Rubber Meet the Road?

It started Saturday, August 17, 2002, in the "Take a Breath" editorial of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It said police and community must work together. Who could object? Don't we all want to get along?

That was questioned when within a couple days Minneapolis had a near riot because of a police incident in North Minneapolis. Within a couple of days a federal mediator arrived in this city to try to bring the parties together. The City then chose political intrigue and "containment" over problem solving.

By December 19, 2002, the notorious Doug Grow had been assigned to the hunt. In a column entitled "Like a Comedy Routine Without the Comedy," Grow referred to the communities of color as something akin to Abbott and Costello, even as these communities desperately attempted to put together the mediation process.

The problem is that the White community and its mouthpiece The Strib not only can't figure out who's on first, it wants to be able to say who will be on first, and second, and third, etc.

Grow is saying we are like White clowns. C'mon, Doug, you can do better than that. Abbott and Costello? Why not Amos 'n Andy? But then the Kingfish would not have had any of that, and would have called Sanford and Son and asked them to come over and take Doug's junk to their yard, and then asked Doug to go see Dr. Huxtable. Oh, wait, he only works on the body, not the mind.

I'm thinking now that we probably won't get coverage of the truth in The Strib until Murphy Brown stands up and demands it. Then we'll get real journalism. Doug Grow's column was as well calculated as it was mean-spirited. Its intent was to gut the mediation process. (I can just see him and his editors all sitting around smiling, pleased with themselves.)

Three weeks later, on my birthday, January 10, 2003, another interesting editorial appeared in The Strib entitled "Mediation." This editorial talked plainly and decisively about the importance of mediation between the Minneapolis Police Department, the City of Minneapolis, and communities of color (as if the first two were somehow separate). The Strib then listed who it felt was and was not qualified to be a part of the mediation process.

Stories were positioned before and after the January 10 editorial (December 14, 18, 19, and 20, 2002, and then on January 14 and 21, 2003), each well designed to undermine efforts to bring about some sense of resolution in the ongoing serious and sometimes deadly problem of relationships between African Americans and other communities of color on the one hand, and communities of color with the City of Minneapolis and its police department on the other.

By the time you read this column, we should have completed the mediation process and signed an agreement. Be alert to the process that should be followed.

The documents are now being reviewed by legal counsels for both the Department of Justice and the City of Minneapolis. The Minneapolis City Council on public safety, as early as two Wednesdays ago, should have begun the process of setting a public hearing to discuss the content and the recommendations within the mediation process.

By December 15, 2003, the Minneapolis City Council should be prepared to vote to accept this agreement. To do anything less, or to allow anything less, will truly be a significant political and moral misrepresentation against the interests of the citizens of this city.

It is important that the citizens understand that, after seven and a half months, the process has been completed. There has been serious give and take. Now we await the decisions of the politicians, specifically the mayor and the leadership of the council.

There will be more in the coming weeks regarding what went on inside of mediation and the politics that were played. We think it is important that you, the public, begin to ask these questions: How say your council members? Do they intend to be present? Do they intend to vote? Do they intend to support what has been negotiated by their citizens and their police?

NAACP money mysteries

The Minneapolis branch had their annual fundraising dinner a couple of weeks ago. There is still no financial report. And as the next meeting is not until December 20, that means that four months will have gone by without any financial report whatsoever to the general membership. Where is all the money?

Besides the financial reports, how's the audit coming along? With a bank account of over $300,000, the general public has a right to know what is being done with the money.

And by the way, when will the administrator be here? Sources inside the Minneapolis NAACP say that at that meeting of December 20, somewhere in this city, the administrator appointed by the national board to administer the Minneapolis branch will be introduced.

And we are still awaiting additional information on the collapse of the Houston Supermarket chain. Wasn't that terrible?


Glad to see Vikings Head Coach Mike Tice finally stand up for the very outstanding quarterback Daunte Culpepper. It is really unfortunate that we have this love-hate relationship between Vikings fans and this fine young man.

Maybe the Vikings can work out a trade and Daunte can take his tremendous talents somewhere else. Then we'll see how quickly the Vikings get back into the playoff picture and even dream about a Super Bowl appearance.

November 19, 2003 Column #17: Finney: A man for all seasons

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

The announcement in early November that longtime St. Paul Chief of Police William "Corky" Finney would be stepping down in July 2004 stimulated some reflections on his tenure and the legacy he will leave as chief of the department for over a decade, ending 30-plus years with the St. Paul Police Department.

Corkey Finney's Q&A in the Sunday, November 9 Star Tribune answered many questions about his relationship with St. Paul city government, his relationship with the powers that be, and specifically his relationship with current Mayor Randy Kelly.

It has been rumored for a long time that Finney and Mayor Kelly were not on the best of terms. Finney's Q&A statement that Kelly is a bully and a man who attempts to impose his will the wrong way on city employees has certainly raised the ire of the mayor. In fact, the mayor's official response in the Star Tribune clearly sent a signal that he is not happy with Corkey Finney telling the truth.

Here we are again: An African American tells what is really going on in the world of politics, and he or she is criticized as if the truth is not something that is to be spoken when it exposes the actions, or lack of actions, of White politicians.

But one of the items missing from Chief Finney's Q&A was the hatchet job that Mayor Kelly did on the chief about a year and a half ago, when everyone thought that Corkey Finney was going to be the U.S. marshal for the Federal District of Minnesota. It will be interesting to see if Representative Jim Ramsted of the 3rd Congressional District will tell what really happened when crunch time came and William Finney's name was jettisoned from the list of U.S. marshal finalists.

In fact, it took another year and a half before the carnage could be cleaned up to move ahead with an almost unknown candidate later advanced and, we think, confirmed as marshal.

But William Finney has been an excellent chief and an excellent citizen of his community. Corkey Finney is truly a man for all seasons. We wish him the best. We also think he would make a doggone good mayor of St. Paul. That will be his choice if he decides to run against Randy Kelly in a year's time. But clearly, he shows the necessary credentials. He demonstrated his widespread popularity when he won a citywide seat on the St. Paul School Board back in the 1980s.

What's holding up Plymouth-Penn development?

A second item of concern for this column is the lack of movement in the development of the area of Plymouth and Penn in North Minneapolis. We hear rumors that once again there is some kind of friction that is driving apart, not bringing together, the opportunity for economic growth and jobs in North Minneapolis for people of color, and specifically for African Americans.

You know, when you campaign on a platform of changing things from what they were from the previous 11 and a half years, at some point you've got to begin to show some results. Time-Warner is rumored to begin bankrolling the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC)) for the development at Plymouth and Penn. But with the Urban League having in place a very definitive plan for the construction of a credit union for the city and county, it seems to me that we should be much further ahead in the development of that very attractive location.

NRRC was designated over the last number of months as the recipient of $668,000 on the Hollman/Heritage Park project. With NRRC now being identified as a prime player on behalf of Time Warner for the development of Plymouth and Penn, one would think that this organization must be in pretty good shape financially to take on two very significant development projects.

It is hard to tell if this is so. Rumors are that some members of NRRC's board of directors are left out of the equation. In other words, they don't get information, they don't get notices for meetings, etc. We hope that's not true, because that sounds like another organization that we know extremely well that has a history of doing that -- the NAACP.

(By the way, will the NAACP publish its list of contributors for its dinner November 19 in downtown Minneapolis, with Danny Glover as the keynote speaker, particularly in light of the fact that the NAACP has not had a membership meeting nor a financial report in over three months for the general membership and the public? Good question.)

Back to Plymouth and Penn: Let's get this project going. Let's put aside whatever differences that we pretend that we have and let's do what's best for the people. And let's remember the commitments and promises we made at election time, 2001.

Vikings news update: Three in a row, huh? How is that, three losses in a row?

November 15, 2003 Column #16: Justice Violated, Justice Raped: In The Matter Of Alfred Flowers

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

Editorial Note: Jerry Freeman: Peter, attached is Ron's column as edited. He seemed exceptionally eloquent this week. I think it was a mistake for the NAACP to single Ron out for banishment, since now he can speak uninhibitedly (not that he has ever seemed much inhibited) as a true Outsider in the best sense of the word and a martyr for free speech. PJJ response: Amen.

With KSTP's exclusive news accounts of the late September beating of Alfred Flowers by Minneapolis police, the city now rocks with anger, dismay, and a sense of distrust of the system of justice.

When Alfred Flowers was first informed that all charges against him had been dismissed as an outgrowth of the assault upon him by Minneapolis police outside the NAACP meeting at the Minneapolis Urban League ["Mayhem Breaks Out at Urban League, ***MSR*** October 2], Flowers and his family and friends and supporters assumed that justice, at least on this one occasion, would be served.

But within days after the charge was dismissed, rumors began to emerge that powerful sources within Minneapolis City Hall, including the office of the mayor and the powerful Police Federation, wanted Flowers recharged -- the law and justice be damned.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, writing the 1856 decision for the Dred Scott case (that ruled that African Americans -- slave and freed -- were not citizens and had no citizen rights) put forth a belief about the African that we see again in the case of Alfred Flowers: ***"They had no rights which the White man was bound to respect."*** It appears that that segregated doctrine is alive and well in our so-called liberal enclave called Minnesota.

What else could the county attorney have been thinking when she made the decision to have Alfred Flowers recharged? Did she think that the videotape of the event could be suppressed? Did she think that the truth could be suppressed? Or did she think that there now exists such an atmosphere favoring the disenfranchisement of the African American that it really didn't make any difference?

Alfred Flowers is going to ask for a speedy trial, as he should. The case of Alfred Flowers will give the world an opportunity to witness whether justice will work for an African American in Minneapolis, and if it does, how hard it is.

We now reside in a city in which the major newspaper, the ***Minneapolis Star Tribune***, on behalf of injustice, conspiracy and collusion, issues death warrants against individuals within the African American community (when it identified Stephen Porter as an informant without any significant proof, without meeting the standard or the burden of fairness), contributing to the growth and expansion of injustice against the franchise of the sons and daughters of the African.

If they feel they can get away with what they have done against Mr. Porter and Mr. Flowers, they will feel they can do anything to any of us. Hopefully there will be a jury of 12 who, upon hearing all of the facts and reviewing all the material, including the video, will make the decision that Alfred Flowers and his sister, Alisa Clemons, have been wronged once again in the corridors of justice.

As we said in our last column, clearly city hall is vacant, civil rights is dead, and now justice is being pushed out of the corridors of freedom and equality. Where oh where is the sense of fairness, the commitment to impartiality, and the recognition that we are all created equal under God?

As justice cowers in the corner of our beloved enclave, we desperately cry out for the existence of an organization to stand up for the franchise of the sons and daughters of the African. Unfortunately, that won't be the NAACP. The NAACP has clearly conveyed, in its act of suspending me for a minimum of five years as an active member for the "crime" of speaking out, that the importance of keeping this organization clean and free of corruption, malfeasance and just outright poor performance is no longer the order of the day.

One assumes that at some point in time the air will be clear in respect to the real story of this once-great civil rights organization. For now, we have NAACP leaders taking five boxes of files and information and records from their offices on the Monday following the Saturday decision by the national board.

Will they return those documents? Oops. That's impossible, as those documents have been shredded, haven't they? Those documents included election information on the election fraud of November 2002. But more importantly, it contained the financial records.

The shredding of those financial records will not allow auditors or anyone else to follow the trail of where the money went, which means that a once-great organization has weakened itself even further at this crucial time in the history of our beloved city and state, a time when the franchise of the sons and daughters of the African American is being so treacherously violated, with a mayor thumbing his nose at the community of color and the police beating our brains out.

What a dark day, my friends. Where do we turn? We still have our guides from the past. What would Frederic Douglass say? What would Thurgood Marshall say? What would Roy Wilkins say? What would Martin Luther King, Jr., say? Please, please, let my people go free.

Sadly, in the NAACP we have an organization that is tainted to the very roots of its foundation and the great history it once enjoyed, as it works with the powers that be to tie our hands. If the NAACP won't stand up to respect our rights, and acts toward us as if it were Chief Justice Taney, what will cause the City to respect our rights?

A Vikings postscript

Well, we won't have to worry about a perfect season for the Vikings. And hey, what happened to Red McCombs in the locker room after the loss to the New York Giants? One too many? Dementia? Anger at no new stadium or no new buyer?

Only Red and God know.

October 22, 2003 Column #15: Dark days ahead for our fair city

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

City hall is vacant, civil rights are dead, and the mayor has left the building

The events of October 14, 15, and 16, 2003, given front-page play in the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press last week, have shaken the very foundation of the image of the City of Minneapolis and its liberalism.

Just prior to the events that affected Mr. Porter, a young African American in North Minneapolis, there had been an event in the Hennepin County Jail, where an African American, Philander Jenkens, claimed to have been sodomized by Hennepin County sheriff's deputies.

Except for the activities and concern expressed by Michelle Gross and her organization, Mr. Jenkins was not getting a lot of consideration. But after the allegations pertaining to the sodomizing by police officers of Mr. Porter, it is clear that all hell has broken loose. If true as alleged, we could be looking at the possibility of another Abner Louima case here in the Twin Cities.

A lot of things are at play, including the fact that civil rights really seem to be dead in the City of Minneapolis, not because of the alleged two incidents, but because of how the responses reflect the ongoing environment before these incidents.

Leadership from city hall has been lacking. For too long, the mayor has made it clear he doesn't have time to meet with anyone who is a person of color with concerns. Leadership on both sides is now found wanting. Blacks view these incidents as part of the systemic problem of police abuse of minorities. Whites see it as Blacks coddling the criminal element. This allows high-profile incidents to hide the real challenge: the assault on the Black community in terms of education, housing, jobs, and neighborhood public safety.

The most sophisticated and seasoned politician in this entire episode is soon-to-depart Chief of Police Robert K. Olson. Now, what does that say about future relations between the municipality and its communities of color? In our estimation, it says dark days lie ahead.

This city is angry on both sides of the aisle. The White community is angry over what it considers to be unfair treatment of Interim School Superintendent David Jennings. The African American community and others of color are angered by the attacks on their legitimacy, led by Mayor R.T. Rybak and given aid and comfort by many in the political and business arenas.

And so today, as we look toward the horizon of leadership, we see nothing but dark clouds of nullification and rejection, nullifying the concerns of the African American community and rejecting all legitimate claims of their disenfranchisement. We need to come together. We need to reconcile.

South African Archbishop Tutu writes about how to achieve reconciliation (see my web log entries 163, 164, and 172). And let us do it before Rome burns as Nero Rybak continues to fiddle. But he does not fiddle alone; he is abetted by the city council, the ecumenical community, and those who say that they care about better race relations but whose actions suggest that unrest and disturbance is the status-quo price Minneapolis is willing to pay. They give me the impression that city hall is vacant, civil rights are dead, and the mayor has left the building.

And so today we stand on the bridge of opportunity of reconciliation or total absolute failure and collapse. Which will it be? Once again both sides of the aisle are called to a test of leadership. Will they be able to accept and embrace it? Only history and God know.

We know that somewhere in our fair city there are those with the vision and the wisdom to bring us together. The time to do so is now. We continue to pray that reasonable minds and reasonable people will continue to do the reasonable and right thing, attempt to come together to discuss the issues and try to move toward healing, giving some sense of hope to Minneapolis' communities of color. To do anything less is to betray the doctrine of Gandhi and King and to betray the least of our citizens.

And so tonight, my friends at city hall, in the civil rights community, and in other offices of leadership, the responsibility and onus are on you. How say you? Is leadership something we can accomplish together, or shall we perish separately?

Give Green credit

The Minnesota Vikings have inspired their loyal fans to believe in the possibility of achieving a division title and a Super Bowl this 2003 season. We wish them the best. But let's not forget that key players, like Culpepper and Moss on offense and Hovan on defense, were drafted by a guy named Denny Green.
You remember Denny Green, don't you? He was the very successful football coach of the Minnesota Vikings for a decade, a man who was more than outspoken about the issues of the day and the importance of things other than sports. Let's give a little credit where credit is due, and let us not forget it.

October 8, 2003 Column #14: The Titanic Had A Better Day: The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s 3 October 1st Stories on Civil Rights: NAACP, Hollman, School Board

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

Star Tribune: In the tradition of the tragedy of the Titanic, a great passenger ship that sunk in the North Atlantic many years ago, the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Strib), on October 1st gave us some additional illustrations of a Titanic-like disaster in regards to the future of civil rights in the City of Minneapolis. The articles on the school superintendent, heritage park, and another change of leadership in the NAACP speak volumes to the difference in thinking between White folks and Black folk regarding what is best for Black people. All three stories cover issues known well by the Strib, by City Hall, by Big Corporate, as every attempt, as usual, was made by them to manipulate and control the concern and the franchise of the African American. As a result, the city and White leadership find themselves confronted with an angry Black community.

Superintendent: The statements by the Rev. Ian Bethel should not go unheeded as it pertains to the anger and frustration in the Black community as well as the plan the Black community is suggesting be used in the search for a new superintendent.

Hollman: what can we say about plagiarism in this column? At some point the Strib will do their own leg work and stop plagiarizing this newspaper and this column (although we are indeed flattered).

NAACP: What is so tragic and heart breaking to me is what some within the White institutions of this city have done to attempt to determine who is best to represent and to speak for the sons and daughters of the African slave, especially in their divisively successful efforts to control the local NAACP. They think they have served the White community. And they think they can control the Black community. They have done neither. First and foremost, I continue to be amazed by the lack of factual information and understanding of context by the Strib and other media in this City regarding what is going on in our community. And for as long as that continues, there will always be an unnecessary and regrettable chasm between the races. We as the victims continue to be blamed for being the victims, and they as the perpetrators continue to hide the fact that they are the perpetrators, “they” being the White established order.

Future: But life will continue to go on, the battle will continue to be fought and sometime, in the life of a people and the destiny of a nation, the disadvantaged, as we are referred to, will prevail. Of course, if we wait on columnists for the Strib and other think tank types to put a plan in place, we will have reverted back to the South 40, and that is the far end of the plantation, my friends.

Sports Beat: There is no doubt that a week ago Rush Limbaugh stepped way out of line. But as Eagles Quarterback Donovan McNabb said in an October 1st press conference, what Rush Limbaugh was talking about is what a lot of people think. I continue to come down on the side of saying that we need to have an open discussion and open debate and we, especially as African Americans, should know what our enemy is thinking. And so I’m disappointed that Rush Limbaugh has left ESPN, as I would have enjoyed hearing him continue to rail against the success of the African American in sports, be it high school, collegiate or professional. For as Donovan McNabb said, Rush Limbaugh is only the tip of the ice berg, and if we don’t have Rush Limbaughs, then we as African Americans will never know when they are getting ready to come and take us away.

Challenge to the Strib: Rather than committing journalistic malpractice, why not expend some effort on journalistic vigilance: you have maligned many people by writing the untruth that “The name Ron Edwards always comes up when the [NAACP] chapter’s internal woes are discussed” and that I am trying to “wreck the work of the NAACP.” In my next column I will address the contents of my book, naming names and events, and challenge you to prove me wrong. I will do so within the context of my “7 Solutions” paper (in “Occasional Papers” section of my web site) in the areas of education (MPS record), jobs (city compliance record), housing (Hollman accountability), public safety (police-community relations), safe environment (air, water, ground), governing (elections, redistricting), and ethics (morals, illegalities, unethicals). My journalistic vigilance. Stay tuned.

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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