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2004 Columns
Quarter 4: October thru December ~ Columns #20 - #27

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December 30, 2004 Column #27: AMERICAN THE BEAUTIFUL, 2004: News Years Resolutions Regarding The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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

We conclude 2004 by thanking this newspaper and the readers of this column for allowing us into your lives. We wish everyone "Peace on earth, good will toward men" and women.

Our New Year's Resolution: to continue in 2005 to report on how equal access and equal opportunity fares in (1) education, (2) jobs, (3) housing, (4) public safety, (5) safe environment, (6) governing and (7) ethics. We have recommended solutions in our book and in two dozen (so far) "Solution Papers" on our web site (consider especially Seven Solution areas, The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together, and Higher Hopes For Youth Than Hip Hop.

Youth need to believe in the American Dream (get educated/trained to make a good living and buy affordable housing). Bad and ugly racist policies that deny equal access and opportunity in education, jobs and housing, must, to be good, end.

Besides in foreign lands, let us also seek prosperity and democracy for our inner cities. As descendants of slaves we always thrill at the liberation of the enslaved, as the young men and women of our military are working to achieve in Afghanistan and Iraq. But we reserve the right to question the way it is being achieved (and are not unmindful of the irony that those who would have left Iraq and Afghanistan as they were would have been executed there for protesting against those governments). We not only question the way we were freed (a slow process of 400 years that included a costly 4 year Civil War, a wait through 100 years of Jim Crow, and a wait that continues in our inner cities), we also question the bad and the ugly of the Afghanistan and Iraq policies and how they intersect in the inner city with what can only be called either lies or serious misjudgments for both that need to be acknowledged in both, where, in their pursuit of truth, some of our sons and daughters perish, some are wounded and some are maimed for life, as they bravely continue to carry out the legacy of determination to protect these shores and our communities.

There is a conflict between those in corporations and government who are war profiteers and those who genuinely seek peace and good will. We will always wonder why the UN failed to play the role that would have prevented this war and still liberated the enslaved peoples. The errors of all have contributed to heart wrenching tears of despair and sorrow nightly on the news, as TV lets us see and hear the tears of parents, wives and other loved ones, as they ask the "why?" questions. Why are they there? Why does there seem to be no exit plan? Why can we not better protect our sons and daughters? Why did we think liberating Iraq and Afghanistan would have our troops met with thank you flowers, as were our troops in Paris in 1945? Why have there been so many different stories about weapons of mass destruction? What is Donald Rumsfeld doing in his position as the minister of war (vs. being Secretary of Defense)? The military tried to get rid of him before 9/11 and now the politicians are. Who is correct? Both? Neither? With sons and daughters dying we have a right to know.

We end 2004 looking ahead to another four years of the imperial presidency. We disagree with Time magazine's naming the President as "Person of the Year." The persons of the year should be America's sons and daughters striving to bring peace and good will in Afghanistan and Iraq. They deserve our thanks, our respect and our appreciation. It is they who are taking the truly heroic and bold "ten gallon hat" size actions, having to literally wade through the bad and the ugly to bring about good.

America's sons and daughters in the inner city as well as those at war have the right to ask, "why me?" There is so much talent and vitality in the world's young that are cut short by old men playing them in the game of death and destruction. Yet millions of young Americans will, without hesitation, defend this nation and follow the orders that are given to them. Are the orders right? Are the orders good?

Long ago, in merry 'ol England, there used to be a phrase, "in defense of the realm," meaning protect the royal throne/house/royal bloodline. None of those three should exist in a democracy. A nation cannot survive on war alone and spending money to rebuild other countries and not also war on poverty and rebuild our inner cities. Compassion, humanity, and honesty must be he order of the day, for if they are lacking we will lose the good that we seek. So tonight, at the end of the year, let us offer our prayers for the arrival of peace in those distant lands as well as in our inner cities, and for the return of America's precious sons and daughters, for they are truly the good that is the dream of America the Beautiful. We will see you in 2005.

Posted 12-30-04

December 16, 2004 Column #26: An Endangered Species: The Future of Black Men in Minneapolis

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

Before late October of 2004, no one knew of 15-year-old Courtney Williams or of 19-year-old Michael Porter. Now their names and their fates have forever been burned into our minds. Fifteen-year-old Courtney Williams is dead. Nineteen-year-old Michael Porter has been castrated.

Courtney was killed by two shots from a Minneapolis police officer. Michael had his genitals torn off by a police department K-9. Their future as Black men was taken from them. The future of the White "justice" system will try to remain unchanged. We will continue to try to change it.

The Grand Jury will hand down "no bill" (meaning no indictments, no finding of wrongdoing), as White "justice" tries to maintain "business as usual" on the streets of Minneapolis. We will continue to post in this column our understanding of the "bill" of indebtedness we see owed us in our public safety account, regardless of who owes it.

Michael Porter, suffering depression and on medications, wandered around confused and naked, and was obviously "out of it." Given the severity of his injuries, how can the Star Tribune report that he struggled? How can a male so grievously injured be able to put up a struggle?

What really happened? Dogs don't talk, and the police involved keep changing their story. Truth is not to be a chameleon-like shape shifter. What won't change is that these young men will never have children.

Porter lost his father, a world renown gospel singer and member of the Robesons Choir, unexpectedly to illness two years ago. He arrived here in August seeking opportunity and a chance to be on his own, following his dream, a dream the police K-9 shattered. He found in Minneapolis a "reenactment" of both slave days and the days of Bull Connor's South of the 1950s, when dogs were turned loose on Black men, attacking them at their genitals.

And yet City Council Member Scott Benson, Democrat, 11th Ward, an assistant Hennepin County attorney on leave, a legal practitioner, a public office holder, the one who will set and determine the question of liability on behalf of the City of Minneapolis, has clearly shown his bias by approving of the actions of these particular police officers and stating on local TV that with Michael "apprehended" we are a safer community.

How can he justify the tearing off of a young man's testicles and his organ being nearly bitten off? Why does he seem to be showing that a Black person has no rights that the White system is duty-bound to respect? Where is their humanity? No statement of regret. No apology. No sense of empathy.

And where are our so-called Black leaders? No civil rights organization spoke up or cried out or seemed to care. Have neither these police nor our so-called civil rights organizations no sense of shame?

By the time this column appears, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office will have taken the case involving Courtney Williams and his death to a Grand Jury. They will find no wrongdoing, no culpability, no responsibility. One more young Black clubbed and written off while another is clubbed in a different manner.

The County Attorney's Office and the court system will high-five each other and indicate that "justice" has been carried out. Justice denied, justice deferred. No one shall be the victim except Black Minnesotans.

Can these White offices not see that they are portraying themselves as people who see us in their eyes as nothing more than an endangered species? When will the laws be executed to protect the Black man as well as the White man? We are left only with our prayers for protection from the beast.

The U of M plantation.

This past Friday, the Star Tribune reported on the U's academic disaster that is the graduation rate for African American student athletes, with the U ranking #11 out of the Big Ten schools, the only school to graduate less than 60 percent of Black student athletes. But it's not the Blacks, it's the U, as "the university's overall student body is also last in the Big Ten for graduation at 52 percent."

But the rate for Black athletes is only 27 percent, down from the 35 percent of 2000. We have been expressing our concern over the lack of academic success for Black athletes at the U since 1972. A particularly startling statistic of this Central Florida University study provided to the U of M regents, given we are entering the bowl season, is that of 56 collegiate football teams playing in these bowls, Minnesota ranks 53rd in graduation of its Black student athletes.

I have no idea what the regents will do. But unless they have a sense of shame, they will do nothing. We are as embarrassed by them as much as they seem to be by us.

Too many see Blacks as here to entertain. Keep Mastah drinking that beer, staying drunk, and watch us do our jig for America the beautiful. Merry Christmas.

Posted 12-16-04

December 2, 2004 Column #25: Young Black Men Have Their Money Taken Away

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

By the time this column hits the newsstands, a million words will have been written, 25,000 repeats of the scene will have been shown on TV, especially ESPN, and a hundred million opinions will have been offered. What is bothersome is that everyone is staying away from the obvious: the issue of race. Young black American players are losing millions in income. Black players in the NBA are being referred to as thugs. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said that the NBA will not tolerate it. White citizens are initiating lawsuits. Ron Artest is promoting his CD. Jermaine O’Neal, Steven Jackson, and Ben Wallace are all saying, “We’re sorry.” The Oakland County prosecutor is looking at film. And White America has revealed a dark side regarding how it feels about young Black men who, as one TV broadcaster put it, “make too much money.”

Why have the papers printed mug shots of Black players but none of the White thugs who started it or those who pelted Black players as they left the arena? Two wrongs (fans and players) don’t make it right. But neither does a rush to judgment? Why so little discussion of the role of the White mob, especially the one who started it who has a rap sheet (“felony convictions, a lengthy penitentiary stay, three drunk driving collars, is on probation and is legally barred from hitting the bottle, and is on parole”)? The Detroit Pistons were re-located to Auburn Hills to protect White citizens from the dark terror of downtown Detroit. So it is still about race. Why do young Black men take the brunt? Why no talk about race? I remember how shocked I was at the same silence about the disdain shown by so many Americans toward our USA summer Olympics Basketball team in Athens, as they turned against their own team as it was criticized for losing even before a game was played.

In the last ten days I’ve gained a lot of respect for Greg Anthony, former New York Knick and now ESPN color commentator. He has been one of the very few to focus honestly on the undercurrent against the success of African Americans in sports, be it Tiger Woods in golf, the Williams sisters Venus and Serena in Tennis, Dennis Green in professional football, or Black athletes and coaches in general. Too many of America’s adult population harbor a deep resentment against successful Blacks rather than celebrate their success, as they work against positive race relations.

Militant racism in St. Paul. It is troubling that we refuse to settle the issue, as we talk patriotism on one hand and practice racism and nullification on the other, especially in the White created poverty zones of our cities. Why, in the 21st century, do we still find this in so many places where we look or in what we read or listen to? Why do so many refuse to discuss the issue of race?

What better example than the continued silence of Minnesota about the mean spirited music CD, produced right here in our capital city of St. Paul, that calls for ‘death” to Jews, Blacks, and other minorities, and whose web site,, proudly proclaims, “we don’t just entertain racist kids. We create them.” Yet despite the story being on NBC Nightly News Friday, November 20th and on our web site November 23rd, we have heard nothing but silence as of our deadline. Nothing in the major daily papers. Nothing from our elected politicians. Nothing from our ecumenical faith communities. They remain collectively silent while these neo-Nazis (Post Office Box 188, Newport, Minnesota, 55055), proudly claim to have the final solution: racial genocide against the sons and daughters of the African. You may ask, “What has this got to do with a terrible display of sportsmanship in Auburn Hills?” Just go back and take a look at the mob on that Friday night in Auburn Hills, Michigan: a sea of White faces throwing things at Black players.

Tragic racism, with Asian deer hunters as the hunted. The tragedy of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, resulting in the death of six people and the wounding of others, by a SE Asian man in custody, is another example of how racism has touched and ruined many lives. We may never fully know what happened on that tragic November 20th. But please don’t try to make us believe that hunters were hunting without guns and that with the exception of one of the deceased, no one else was armed or shot at Chai Vang. Other Asians have now come forth about how, in the past, they too had been shot at in the woods by White hunters. The statements that our Asian brothers and sisters are welcomed in that part of the world are clearly not true. And once again there has been a rush to judgment before all the facts are known. This means that some places in this nation remain dangerous as we remain extremely dishonest about the reasons why.

Posted 12-02-04

November 18, 2004 Column #24: The IRS to the NAACP: Greetings! Locals have good reason to be nervous when the subpoenas come

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

The greetings came in a letter from the IRS to the NAACP dated October 8, 2004. It reads like a military draft notice (draft notices implied that you were called to duty). This letter offers a different greeting: "We have received information that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, in comments about George W. Bush on matters pertaining to education, the economy, and the war in Iraq in a July 11, 2004 speech, had gone over the line."

This is time-honored politics dating back in my lifetime to both Eisenhower and JFK. Tax-exempt organizations are not to violate the tax code; they may go up to the line, but not step over it.

This does not represent a problem to those whose skirts are clean. Each administration of whatever party hassles organizations favoring the other party. It is all part of the American fun. The IRS wants to look at the NAACP's skirts.

The October 8 letter from the IRS asked who authorized Mr. Bond's speech, and sought an accounting of all expenses for the Philadelphia convention. Bond called the investigation a political move meant to deter the NAACP from its traditional role of turning out Black voters on Election Day (a response revealing him as an elitist, not a stalwart of civil rights).

Mr. Bond is rightly concerned. This shows how dangerous the playing field has become for those without clean skirts, for now this means that every NAACP branch across America could become the target of every IRS field operation office in their locale, creating grave concern for our Minnesota NAACP branches.

When the IRS reviews the document entitled "Minneapolis Branch NAACP Expenditures Without Branch Approval," prepared by Carl L. Breeding, the branch administrator from Jackson, Michigan, who was appointed by the national board, what will local and national do about Mr. Breeding's report showing over $220,000 spent without authorization, from June 3, 2003, to February 19, 2004?

We know what the Minneapolis Convention Center is; it was allegedly paid $26,921.16 on November 18, 2003, without the approval of the executive committee or the general membership or the appointed administrator, and for which, again, no contract has been found.

More questions present themselves: Who is Loden Design? Who is Greater Talent Network? What was that $220,000 plus for? When Greater Talent Network received a check for $25,000 on August 27, 2003 (also not approved by the executive committee or the general membership), how could it be to pay the two guest speakers for the annual dinner in November 2003, Mr. Glover and Mr. Justice, if they were to come for free?

And then there is the question of Twin Cities Television, to which over $40,000 was paid out even though there was no contract and, again, no approval by the executive committee or the general membership.

And who is Graybow Communications, paid $16,858.30 on November 18, 2003? November 18, 2003 was a big check-writing day. Sad. Over $220,000 spent. Over 40 checks issued. No information provided. No approval by the membership.

These are the kinds of issues that can understandably make any national or local board nervous. And although past and current members of what is left of the local executive committee are leaving in record numbers (including the treasurer, secretary, and assistant secretary), will they say, when asked what happened, "We didn't/don't have a clue"?

The IRS won't take that as a bona fide legal response. With so many leaving, one wonders who will be left to receive IRS subpoenas to answer the questions. You know the doggonedist thing about IRS rules and regulations is that when Uncle Sam thinks he has something coming, he can attach your bank accounts and make you forfeit all of your assets, such as cars, furniture, and things like that. I'm told that is a terrible feeling.

But this is not new news, as readers of this column and newspaper know. "No clue"? The local branch held a hearing presided over by the National NAACP, which resulted in your columnist being expelled from the NAACP for what is written about the organization in my book. They couldn't burn the books, but they could expel the writer.

You would think that Julian Bond would stand up for our right to speak out, just as he wants others to stand up for his. Chapter 14 of my book explains it all. It includes the branch letter relieving me of my executive committee chair for speaking out; a copy of my response, which was also sent to Julian Bond and Kweisi Mfume (NAACP president); and a copy of my full petition to the National NAACP Board.

The response? To deny me my freedom of speech, to disenfranchise those who wanted to vote for me, and to expel me.

So when the IRS comes a-knockin' on the door of the local and National NAACP, can they answer the IRS officials with a straight face when they say, "We didn't/don't have a clue"? Greetings, indeed.

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. Hear voice-over soundtracks, read his solutions papers, and order the book at

Posted 11-18-04

November 4, 2004 Column #23: October a bad month for Minnesota Blacks

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

In Anoka, why is White supreme and Black not beautiful?

When Patricia Williams moved into her home in Anoka, Minnesota, with her five children, in July 2003, she thought safety was finally hers. She had just fled from a year of terror in the community of Andover, where they had been the victims of graffiti, fire bombs, and threats from the notorious White supremacist group known as the "All American Boys." In early August 2004, at her own backyard barbeque, she found that there was no escape, as the "All American Boys" shadow extended to Anoka too.

As Ms. Williams and her African American guests reported, two White officers from the Anoka City Police arrived to investigate a complaint of "noisy Negroes" on their block. After the police realized there was no violation, the witnesses report that a young White officer stated that he was just an "all-American rural White boy" who couldn't understand why these Black folks were in "his" community.

Then, at 11:15 pm on October 16, 2004, gunmen using heavy weapons fired seven shots into the home of Patricia Williams and her five children. Thank God no one was injured, but the message was clearly delivered. Since that horrifying night, a little less than three weeks ago, the lives of Patricia Williams and her five children have been a hellish nightmare. Public safety? Not for this Black family. Both the Anoka County police and the Anoka County sheriffs told the Williams family that their departments didn't have the resources to sustain an investigation. By the evening of October 19, it was suggested by a White female Anoka County police officer that the family would do well to find accommodations out of Anoka. So, by the morning of October 20, the family, with the assistance of the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the Anoka School District, were relocated to an outside hotel. As of this date, no investigation has been initiated, no suspects have been identified, and the shadow of terror and the nullification of a Black family continue. With the "All American Boys" playing the music of nullification and reversal, Lady Justice winks and fails this Black American family in the pumpkin capital of the world.

Why the end of another young life?

On the early morning of October 24, the life of Courtney Williams, a 15-year-old African American, came to a tragic and violent end on Minneapolis' Knox Avenue North. With the death of another young life, another small piece of the Black community died. With Williams' death, the fragile perception of safety was shattered. His death leaves his friends and loved ones not with his dreams and their dreams for him, but with their sorrow, heartache, and unfulfilled dreams. Everyone feels the hurt.

With his death, friends and strangers turned to each other and asked, "Will it ever end?" "Who has the answers?" Not knowing is not the problem. Not trying is.

Why scapegoat "the Black community" or "its culture"? The Star Tribune reports that police are "afraid" when answering calls there. Does this skew their judgment? Deflecting to "It is parents' fault for not keeping their kids in after midnight" doesn't help, either. There is plenty of blame to go around.

The killings won't stop until we are all sitting at the same table. But with city council members wringing their hands in hiding; with schools failing to educate, and thus failing to facilitate hope and ambition; with jobs and housing skewed away from inner city people of color, so they bear the brunt of unemployment; and with leaders of Black organizations bent on serving themselves and not our community, we are jointly abdicating our role as grownups for those who are growing up.

Let us hope, as the investigation proceeds, that justice will prevail. Most disturbing is to dismiss with cliches and scapegoating and not feel shame that a small part of our future has gone without the opportunity to achieve its full potential in the eyes of the community and God. Without that sense of shame, our city council, our schools, and our Black organizations will do nothing to be accountable to their responsibilities (the only thing that will bring positive change).

CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) dramas on TV educate us into things like crime scenes, victim positions, bullet pathways, weapon droppings, fingerprints, officers and paramedics involved, etc. We await the full report of our real life CSI.

Back to the future of the NAACP

Are we witnessing a repeat of more of the same, or a transformation? We appreciate "Community Notes" comments about our ongoing fight for justice for all. We will work with the NAACP in any way we are allowed.

In the meantime, why isn't the October 14, 2004 report of national administrator Carl L. Breeding being made public, a report that outlines how the local branch "leaders" disappeared $220,000?

Al Gallman and Brent Buckner: Please step up as real Black men to the bar of accountability.

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 all citizens of Minneapolis. Hear voice-over soundtracks from his book and read his analysis and solutions papers (especially "7 Solution Areas" and "Building Blocks to build a Minneapolis table for all to sit at together") at

Posted 11-04-04

October 2004 Column #22: VOTING: THE FULFILLING OF A DREAM

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

Since the beginning of the presence of the African American in North America, one of the most precious rights and privileges ultimately accorded to us was the right of the vote. As descendents of slaves and other peoples held captive, the right to vote became a significant achievement. Election 2004 once again will test our fundamental belief and obligation to participate in the democratic process and have a say in the shaping of its democratic institutions. I am encouraged by the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder's commitment to both remind us and encourage us to fulfill the dream of voting. Voting is an important part of our legacy from the sons and daughters of the Africans who came before us. Many died. Many more were subject to the abuse and obstruction to deny the right to vote. The least we can do on the morning of November 2, 2004, is to continue to fulfill the dream by voting, as we participate in shaping our future and the future of our children.

We show the greatest commitment to democracy and the preservation of its institutions by voting. There are many who would argue that our vote is a wasted vote. That idea is both ill advised and ill serves the dream of participation. One thing that we all should learn is that when we refuse to be involved, to care, or to carry out that which has been legislated for us, is that we then defeat the entire concept of the democratic system and the democratic institutions within that system. Our votes are important. Florida and other states with close results in the election of 2000 proved that. So let us never forget the passion and the love of those who came before us who resisted the threats and intimidation of the forces of darkness by marching to the polls. Sometimes it was Black students singing we shall overcome. Sometimes it was neighbors helping others get to the voting booth. But most of the time, it was that solitary Black mother walking lonely yet unafraid to cast her vote and speak to the future of her children and her race. 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 all citizens of Minneapolis. Hear voice-over soundtracks from his book and read his analysis and solutions papers (especially "7 Solution Areas" and "Building Blocks to build a Minneapolis table for all to sit at together") at

Posted 10-04

October 21, 2004 Column #21: A new toughness in the Civil Rights Department As a result, forces of reversal spring into action

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

In the September 9 edition of this newspaper, Isaac Peterson III authored a front-page story about Jayne Khalifa, the new director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department ("Mpls Civil Rights charts new course"), and Pauline Thomas followed with a column on the community support Ms. Khalifa needs (September 16).

Ms. Thomas' comments were on point and timely. Here is why. Prior to her appointment on July 1, 2004, we all wondered if Ms. Khalifa possessed the toughness to do battle with the barracudas that swim city hall's corridors of power, barracudas that leave in their wake the bones of past directors. We wonder no more.

We are pleasantly surprised by the aggressiveness and vision of Ms. Khalifa, tough yet gracious, tough yet diplomatic. This has caused the forces of reversal and nullification to spring into action.

The first force of reversal and nullification to act is the Minneapolis Charter Commission, which will be holding a public hearing on September 29 to consider significant changes to the charter, changes that would forever eliminate the effectiveness of the Civil Rights Department and, thus, the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission.

Not since the days of the late Ike Watkins (who, as chairman of the Charter Commission, stopped all attempts to circumvent and to water down the civil rights ordinances) have we had such a bold play as the one being advanced by the Charter Commission. Part of this is because we have not had a sentinel to watch over the Charter Commission since the death of Mr. Watkins a couple of years ago.

A second force of reversal and nullification is seen in the defiance of both the board and the staff of the Civilian Review Authority, who don't want to recognize the authority of Ms. Khalifa. Once it appeared that she could not be compromised nor intimidated, a coalition of these forces of reversal and nullification came together to undermine her position and, by extension, further fracture the civil rights ordinance and, therefore, the civil rights of the citizens.

This raises serious questions about (1) the timing of the Charter Commission's interest, (2) the lack of a well-publicized notice of the upcoming public hearing of September 29, and (3) the defiance of the Civilian Review Authority to recognize and respect the office of the director of the Civil Rights Department.

This is not hearsay. We were present during the public hearings of 2002 regarding the authority and supervision of the office of the director over the civilian review board operations, including its staff. Now that they see that Ms. Khalifa cannot be compromised, they refuse to recognize and respect her authority. As we pull these covers back, we see again the business-as-usual plantation politics. Stay tuned.

We've been Scrooged
The decision by the Target Corporation to eliminate the Salvation Army bell ringers during the Christmas holidays, as reported in the Minneapolis and St. Paul major newspapers a week ago, really makes one wonder about the Dayton family's vaunted commitment to humanity and caring.

Has the new generation of the Dayton family become so mean and uncaring and not needlessly "politically correct" that they are willing to stand by and say nothing as a proud family heritage of five percent is turned into that of Scrooge's zero percent, as Target humbugs the small charitable giving contributions that provide a significant amount of caring in our community?

Has the Salvation Army's ringing of the bell and receiving a dime here and a dollar there so punctured and disturbed the profits of a once-great corporation that they do this to ring the bells of Wall Street? Why does Target cower before the Salvation Army's ringing bells? Are church bells in neighborhoods that have Target stores next?

As this column has pointed out before, Target has not minded ringing its own bell for gifts and contributions from the City. And they really rang the gift bell with their downtown HQ and store. They didn't mind silencing the bells of North Minneapolis, pulling their store out and going back on their promise of giving back to the community that had and continues to give so much to it.

We had high expectations of the spirit of giving and truth. Target has Scrooged us, just as they Scrooged Detroit, pocketing the tax write-offs made up by us shopper taxpayers.

So now it is time to Scrooge them. We won't be Christmas shopping this year at any Scrugett. We'll look for stores to shop in where bell ringers still ring for caring and humanity.

Congrats in order
Congratulations to Valerie Wurster, who just became the first African American woman to become Minneapolis Deputy Chief of Police, and to Medaria Arrandondo for his promotion to inspector.

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 all citizens of Minneapolis. Hear voice-over soundtracks from his book and read his analysis and solutions papers (especially "7 Solution Areas" and "Building Blocks to build a Minneapolis table for all to sit at together") at

Posted 10-21-04

October 7, 2004 Column #20: Plantation mentality denies Blacks $15 million

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

A new dawn?
At 9:30 am, Wednesday, September 22, 2004, the Community Planning and Economic Development Group sent the Minneapolis City Council a memo spelling out a new beginning for the city's economically depressed areas through a New Market Tax Credit Application for $135 million to the Department of Treasury, of which $15 million would go to the African American Men Project, the Minneapolis Black Chamber of Commerce, the Minneapolis Urban League, and to the wards of the two African American members of the city council, for development, jobs, hope.

The Ryan Company would handle construction and other aspects of economic development. The Franklin National Bank would be the depositor of $15 million. The rest, $120 million, would go The Midtown Exchange Project and the Life Science Corridor.

A new dawn denied!
At 3:18 pm, September 22, 2004, a day that should live in infamy, Greg L. Davidson forwarded a decision to the Minneapolis City Council and others that excluded the $15 million for the minority incubator and, by extension, West Broadway.

A new dawn nullified!
On Wednesday, September 24, the city council sent the proposed application forward (to meet an October 5 deadline), purposefully concurring with excluding the $15 million for the minority incubator and West Broadway.

No more White man's burden
Despite the heated discussion inside and outside city council corridors, the City would "not be burdened" (phrase of a council member) by people (Blacks) who couldn't write proper proposals.

Burdened? In 1899, the great champion of colonialism, Rudyard Kipling, urged the U.S. to "take up the White man's burden" of helping the incapable natives in foreign colonies. (He, at least, would not have cut the $15 million.)

The city council has now made clear that we are in a ghetto on their plantation: They will deny us the $15 million while lifting up their own $120 million. To deny a community because certain members can't develop a proper proposal, while the $120-million folks have proposal writers in their employ, (they can't wait one day for a rewrite?) purposefully jeopardizes both the Black community and the corridor of opportunity for the White community and White businesses.

This is the mindset I wrote of in my book: From slavery to Jim Crow to the 1968 Kerner Commission Report, that "Blacks can't make it on their own," as they are different, so why waste time and money on them? Although empirically false, it is ideologically on point.

In the week and a half since these actions, there has been silence. The moral high ground has been lost. No press conferences. No news release. No public hearing. Not a word from Black leaders. No coverage in the Star Tribune. Just silence and the loss of $15 million—another chapter in a dream deferred and a dream denied.

Return of segregation: an all white Charter Commission September 29, 2004, the Minneapolis Charter Commission held its evening public hearing on recommended changes to the Charter, including changes to provisions governing the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department (currently under the able leadership of Director Jayne Khalifa). What startles and saddens this columnist is the continued blockage of opportunity and participation of the African American community by the Charter Commission.

As I sat before that commission, I saw nothing but White faces. I was reminded of a time over 50 years ago when segregation and no representation was the order of the day in this city on the banks of the Mississippi.

At a time when the Minnesota Supreme Court talks about the issue of diversity, the importance of diversity, and the commitment to diversity (which means the majority is not to run roughshod over any minority), a sub-component of the Supreme Court, the District Court of Hennepin County, has appointed an all-White Charter Commission, reinforcing the doctrine of segregation and nullification in our time.

Is there no shame? Oh, how we cry out for the wisdom, vision and strength of a Thurgood Marshall. This is why we praised the toughness (in our last column) being provided by Ms. Khalifa as she stands up for the civil rights mandate and vision of her department against those who would circumvent and tamper with it.

Plato said the city is the soul of the citizens writ large. What does this say about the soul of this city? Why is it business as usual, again, on this plantation, where the burden is transferred again to the Black person? Color blind has become color-less, as in no color, as in White, the absence of color.

It takes a long time to get certified?
It took William Bratton, Los Angeles' police chief, two years to get certified as a California peace officer (LA Times, September 29, 2004). This makes us wonder why the local media jumped all over our current chief, William MacManus, because it took him five months to get certified in the state of Minnesota (where there is actually no timeline requirement), and just what the real motivation of the Star Tribune was to beat up on our chief about this.

Posted 10-07-04

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

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