The Minneapolis Story Home Page

The Experience of Ron Edwards

A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man's World

A Beacon for Freedom in the City

2005 Columns
Quarter 3: April thru June ~ Columns #14 - #19

Home | 2005 Columns » | All Columns » | 2005 Blogs »
« Previous Quarter | Next Quarter »

September 21, 2005 Column #19: The trial begins: The Government vs. Clark and Reed

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

In about two weeks, the criminal “trial of the century” will begin in St. Paul.

A jury will be selected. The prosecution and defense will make opening statements. The prosecution and defense will put forth their cases. The state and then the defense will summarize. The prosecution will rebut. The jury will deliberate and deliver a verdict.

The Black community hopes that justice will be served. Ever since indictments were handed down in January 2005, there has been little discussion of the importance of justice.

For that matter, there has been little discussion about the true facts. The majority media in the Twin Cities have delivered a prejudged story designed to guarantee a conviction.

Witnesses have appeared from across the spectrum, some from the penitentiary, some, God bless them, near death, and some who want to be Black Panthers from the land of fairy tales and fantasy.

We have the entire script for a good or bad movie, depending upon your perspective. Black militants. Black “terrorists.” Bomb makers. Gun ranges in urban buildings. Dynamite and grenades. Bombs exploding on Shelby Avenue. And, of course, conversations 15 years later in which an individual “confessed” that he had shot a police officer to a person who couldn’t remember the date, give or take five years.

And so now we stand prepared to go to trial. The witnesses will come forward and give testimony. But even the judge is having a problem with the claim of a role by the Black Panthers.

The federal government takes the position that whereas it can talk about Black Panthers, and identify people as Black Panthers, it, the federal government, does not have to supply the documented evidence supporting its claim. That is what kangaroo courts do.

To his credit, the presiding judge has indicated that unless information is released under discovery, there will be no testimony about Black Panthers or Black “terrorists” in his courtroom or at trial.

Now the government and its confidential informants are going to have to go back to the drawing board. They are going to have to tighten up on the dates and timeline, and some folks are going to have to put themselves in perjury situations in order to bail the federal government and the State of Minnesota out of this predicament.

Now, I’m not sure any of this will serve justice, but I assume it will serve the conspiracy theory. Hey! If they can sell conspiracy, bad Black people, and sensationalism to an all-White jury, then who needs justice? Just get “the job” done.

I know that what we have just written sounds harsh, but then oppression and manipulation is always harsh. As the St. Paul NAACP is raising questions and applying pressure, Reed and Clark may yet receive justice in their lifetime. Let us wish them the best, and let us pray for justice and freedom.

The president’s post-Katrina promises

We just finished watching an embattled president, George W. Bush, outline one of the most ambitious recovery/reconstruction projects in history, greater than Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal or LBJ’s War on Poverty.

It reflected three of the major themes of our book, columns and web log: ending inner-city Blacks’ dependency through education (he called for training the displaced, and especially the displaced poor without jobs); jobs (he called for using all of the displaced in the job mix of rebuilding NOLA using tax-free enterprise zones that would include entrepreneurial minority businesses); and housing (he called for urban homesteading and programs for home ownership for the inner-city poor Blacks as they return, and vouchers for temporary apartments rather than being herded into places like Camp Ripley).

Will conservatives succeed where liberals failed? We hope history will record that what he promised came about. When he said, “That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America,” and thus “We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action,” he acknowledged our book’s evidence of racism.

We commend to the president our book and website’s bold solution recommendations. May his efforts not be sabotaged by the business, government and Black elites whose heartless abandonment of inner-city Blacks led to their plight in the first place.

We will be watching; we will hold him to his promises.

Kingdom Oil’s arrogance

We were not surprised over the last 15 days at the power and influence of the good folks at Kingdom Oil (see our June 30 and July 15, 2004, columns). Kingdom Oil told Black folk that whatever parallel agenda emerges in Minnesota, that Kingdom Oil would have the final say. (Kingdom Oil would also benefit from our book and website’s bold solution recommendations).

But it was refreshing to see some Black ministers stand up to the arrogance of Kingdom Oil. These are times that are truly testing the resolve of the Black community of Minnesota.

We’ll be going into this in greater detail in coming columns. Stay tuned.

Posted 9-21-05, 12:30 a.m.

September 7, 2005 Column #18: Another American Dark Hour. The Tragedy of New Orleans: To Be Black and Poor.

Written 9-1-05 and submitted 9-2-05. Specially expanded for this web site version of the column, as noted by [text inside brackets]. See also our 2005 Blog entry #69. [Added later: 2005 Blog entries #71]

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

As we heard the news and watched the televised pictures of the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we knew that America and the Gulf area would once again be tested. Because of the resources of this great nation, her experience in dealing with disasters, and the reshaping of America’s capacity to respond after 9/11, we hoped that Americans of all persuasions would be taken care of, especially the poor, the Black, and the Black poor.

Instead, we discovered how unprepared Homeland Security is at the local, state, and federal levels (whether post-hurricane surge or terrorists’ bombs breaching the levy, the needed results are the same.)

We prepare this column on September 1, safely on high ground in Minneapolis. Still, as Americans we are embarrassed. We are hurt. We are angry. Once again the dark secret (pun intended) is exposed.

We watched the triaging of America’s compassion for her citizens. We saw people dying outside the Super Dome, others close to dying from dehydration. We saw people trapped on the roofs, trapped on a raised bridge, and so many waiting to be evacuated. How is it we can air drop fodder to starving, stranded, snowbound cattle in the Midwest, but we can’t get water to Blacks stranded on raised roads and rooftops?

What happened to the American urgency and competence when disaster strikes American soil? Last January, instant disaster programs and benefit concerts for the tsunami victims were created, including donation sites on Google, Yahoo, MSN, eBay, etc. So why, so far, haven’t they for NOLA?

As my book illustrates, if you are a poor American, Black or White, you are not at the top of the country’s and media’s chain of caring and compassion. We Blacks are seen as having less worth than those of Europe or other lands.

Engineers’ warnings for decades about this impending levee disaster has been met with decades of politicians diverting crucially needed funding (especially by the city and state). “The Big Easy,” after decades of negligence and mismanagement of itself, is now the American Atlantis, with a death toll that will be greater than 9/11’s [Ed. note, 9-13-05: that estimate by main stream media is now found to be way off, as the known death toll to date is so much lower than predicted that it is, thankfully, taking Katrina out of the top 25 in this country. It also suggests that although there were tremendous foul ups at the local and state level of first repsonders, the federal resonse in terms of days is the same as hurricanes in Florida. This suggests that main steram media, including the Star Tribune, were more interested in hoping for a high death toll as part of their devisive campaign of Bush bashing, scape goating the feds to cover for the poor local response, rather than trying to be helpeful and promote unity.]

When we look at NOLA through the eyes of Nellie Stone Johnson, we see the consequences of not including Blacks in education, jobs, housing and public safety.

Two-thirds of New Orleans was Black, many of them poor—the truly left behind. How is it that a former Black mayor, now with the Urban League, can admit they were never prepared for a storm of this magnitude, and it takes the White mayor of San Antonio to express the impact of this tragedy in the human terms of lost jobs, lost income, lost homes, and deep levels of despair?

Like Minneapolis, Bourbon Street NOLA partied in the arms of the Democratic Party, which controlled her poor education, poor jobs, poor housing, poor public safety, and poor levee maintenance funding for decades. Knowing the levy state, where was the NAACP and the Urban League to sound the trumpet of safety for their below-sea-level constituents? And why is the drive for help on the Internet being led by conservatives?

This is not a time for Bush Bashing. (On Clinton’s watch, unemployment for young Black males was double and, in some places, triple that of White males.) Katrina has pulled back the covers to expose NOLA’s hidden inequalities, injustices, and patterns of corruption.

As in Minneapolis, NOLA’s NAACP and Urban League leaders take money for fronting dependency programs rather than leading toward equal opportunity, especially in terms of education, jobs, and entrepreneurial activity. Nellie Stone Johnson would ask the NAACP and Urban League why they fight for their own professional advancement but not for economic parity (jobs) or for reducing unemployment and poverty of Blacks. She would ask why they are not fighting for what poor Blacks need most: quality education and quality jobs, as well as programs that promote self-help and not dependency.

Looting and rioting impulses would have been reduced if NOLA had good education, good jobs, good housing and adequate public safety for all. (All presidents since 1950 have had riots on their watch; NOLA’s murder rate is 10 times the national average). Looting and rioting impulses may also have been reduced if it were not for the fact that the state and city didn’t lack the planning and preparation for a storm of this magnitude (which they have admitted). And the feds were not full fully prepared with a backup for dealing with energy problems that would result from the city and state’s ineptness and lack of preparedness.

Great political changes occurred after the 1871 Chicago fire, the 1889 Johnstown, PA., flood, the 1900 storm that leveled Galveston, TX., the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the great Mississippi flood of 1927. What changes will occur this time? Which political party will lead and benefit?

What to do: Let us end the myth that NOLA can be like Holland or Venice. Rebuild the city north of Lake Pontchartrain. Whatever the location, this is the time for a giant, private-public WPA-like solution, providing jobs and hope for all of the jobless and hopeless. Hire and train our Blacks to fill the employment gap, not illegals.

[And then: Consider temporary housing on recently closed military bases (infra-structure is in place), or tent cities on unused farm land (in or out of state; new pioneer land rush?), or on floating barges in Lake Pontchartrain.]

[And then follow Nellie Johnson: end the “culture of welfare dependency” that came home to roost in NOLA: people waiting for welfare checks so they could buy a bus ticket or hail a cab or get lodging. End the ideological nonsense of both the left and right: (1) Stop following the liberal 1968 Kerner Report saying Blacks can’t make it and must therefore be wards of the state; and (2) stop following the 1998 Bell Curve book saying Blacks are too dumb to make it on their own and must therefore be wards of the state.]

[In this way, NOLA can (1) then bring inner city Black education up to par with suburban whites so that Black’s too can get well paying jobs for which we now import immigrants with H-1B visas for professionals. (2) With Blacks educated (we are, afterall, as MLK said, “qualifyable”), Blacks can obtain jobs that pay well enough so they can afford housing, get off of welfare, and not be caught again not able to leave as their welfare checks have not arrived. This would (3) solve the cap problem of The H-1B visas for foreign professionals.

[Promote federalism and end city state dependency. If we are to remain a free people, we not only need to enable people to be successful without passively sinking into poverty under government programs and direction, we also need to ween state and local governments from their federal dependency. As more and more states and cities wait for and rely on federal spending (which seems to be all many elected officials are interested in), the more their priorities will be distorted (pork barrels over saving barrels). When states and cities react as if the first responders are federal, we have those seeking a centralized control. Maybe what states and cities need are not federal funds but federal incentives to solve their own unique problems.]

[Therefore, implement the solutions offered on our web site for Minneapolis in New Orleans too (as it applies to all inner cities), beginning with the Seven Solution areas, using The Blocks to Construct a Minneapolis Table for All to Sit at Together, so that New Orleans also can finish what MLK called the Unfinished Dream.

[Katrina’s exposé of NOLA’s segregation of opportunity exposes America’s foreign trade off: trading poor education for descendents of slavery for the importing of well educated minorities from other countries. Adminstered by Homeland Security, the cap of 65,000 H-1 visas for professionals for 2006 was met 14 months before the fiscal year begins. Here is where what we list above contributes to solving the problem of security (terrorists with visas) and of jobless poor home workers (uneducated minorities shut out of professional jobs educated to be top professionals). Intel says it could go forward without ever hiring another American. This is a supply and demand problem: American has the demand but not the supply (it has the supply of bodies but not of educated bodies).

[This is an indictment of (1) our inner city public schools which, together, could provide many of these needed professionals if the current ideology of the left and right didn’t hold that Blacks aren’t like others, are too dumb, and thus can’t climb the education mountain, and thus are left behind, and (2) this is an indictment of our colleges and universities that promote their social engineering classes in race/women’s/sexual orientation/policy studies rather than in math/science/engineering/business/entrepreneuring, and who themselves actually hire very few Black professors.

[Katrina exposes the truth regarding the two biggest problems noted by the report of the bi-partisan Hart - Rudman Commission on Security, May 2001): (1) the potential for a terrorist attack using WMDs (which took place 9-11-01), and (2) our shortfall in students taking science and math.]

[This is also an opportunity to come together. Being an American was always a proud identity for Black people and White, for liberals and conservatives (see the between chapter Interludes in my book). It was the glue that held us together as we worked our way through the civil rights movement. That glue is coming apart as too many are either damning America or worshipping it. Do we want to work together for our culture of freedom and liberty, or will we tear it apart out of the shreer magnitude of malignant power seeking? We need to get back to E Pluribus Unum, out of many: one.

We need to stop attacking each other and instead attack poverty. Not like the ill-conceived, “equaity of results” redistributionist centralized power attempt of LBJ, an approach that conquered a proud people and laid them low while bureaucrats pork barreled and too many poor needlessly stayed poor. Instead, provide equal access and equal opportunity so that avoidable poverty need no longer exist. When a hurricane no one can control catches people off guard, the right approach is to admit it and state what has been learned from it for the future, not only in terms of preparedness for a storm no one has experienced before, but for preparedness to end individual and state/local government dependency on federal hand outs. There is a clash of civilizations and culture going on in the world as terrorist groups have called for our downfall, not because we are Americans no because we are “Western.” It is because we are not like them. Let’s not be like the Romans and be defeated from within by ourselves because we can no longer debate as brothers and sisters.]

In whatever form NOLA returns (as an extended Bourbon Street theme park for tourists?), we in Black America know that she has lost some of her soul. The funeral marches will show who were not cared about. We pray tonight for all.

But as a Black American, we say a special prayer for those who have perished and those who have been pushed out by both nature’s disaster and a disaster that, unfortunately, has been reinforced by man.

We gratefully acknowledge the research support of our publisher, Beacon on the Hill Press.
Expanded column posted on September 7, 2005, 2:51 a.m.

August 24, 2005 Column #17: Oh my, not again! Peebles under attack again!

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

“Peebles Under Investigation” shouted the slanted headline of the August 18 Star Tribune regarding Minneapolis School District Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles (see also the piece in the Pioneer Press).

Why is the Board of Education so eager to reflect a current trend, assumption of guilt and appoint an investigator? Setting up a firing? How else to explain appointing a Special Outside Counsel to investigate allegations in two detailed but anonymous letters?

What happened to the right to face one’s accusers? Has the Board’s “Desperate Housewives” craving change who hired Dr. Peebles become “Desperate Bureacrats” craving no change in their status quo? Or is the White board upset with an “uppity” and “intimidating” Black woman when a White man would be called just strong and principled?

Note the other slanting of Reporter Steve Brandt, obviously reflecting the slanted direction of his slanted editors, as he “outs” the Black accusers but not the White ones (another favorite precurser to firing, as “even they” don’t like her). These ugly allegations shout “shame on you” to the Strib and the Board.

As we have said before in this corner, O My, Where is Ken Starr?

The prime time actors are “anonymous” whistleblowers. Somebody close to the Superintendent’s office (cabinet? inner circle?), is not confident enough nor brave enough to sign their names. Are they trying to save their jobs, covering up they’re looking for one, or carrying out a vendetta?

Board Governance is a key watch word in America today. Where is that of the Minneapolis School Board? What is their code of ethics? What are they trying to hide? Have they been leaking information? Have they been setting up the scenario?

Are they trying to justify terminating Superintendent Peebles? Were some of those named in the article at some party or another such gathering along West River Road talking about how to undermine Superintendent Peebles, and then giving juicy gossip to reporters of our major newspapers? In doing so were they in violation of state law? When will the anonymous accusers step forward?

Plagiarism and credentials?

Three questons. First, given the poor education in our city for decades, all under the control of the DFL and its wholely owned teachers/teachers union subsidiary, what’s with the credentials bit when it is “credentialed professionals” who have given us the sorry mess Superintendent Peebles was tasked to clean up?

Secondly, are the members of the Board of Education able to say unequivocally that in their business or academic lives that they have not used the thoughts of others without attribution out of forgetting, let alone on purpose? Are we to now say that all the U-M professors who use research assistants are all guilty of plagiarism (and what about all the Strib editorials with no byline or attribution)?

How sad that the flimsy “plagiarist” arguments used by White racists against Martin Luther King, Jr. are now being used by Black bureaucrats on Superintendent Peebles as they protect their benefits and pensions by clubbing her and our kids. Can’t earn them?

Third, isn’t all of this akin to the Board rearranging the deck chairs on their own sinking education Titanic?

Nellie Stone Johnson’s words remind us of what Is at stake: no education, no jobs, no housing. It is clear that we in the Black community need to start answering the tough questions. What proposals have been made by the African American Men Project or the Urban League or the NAACP or the Peace Foundation or the Minneapolis Foundation that has given these groups $375,000? What is the accountability for the $375,000 and what are the criteria for evaluating any benefit gained for the community from its use? Or will these groups “disappear” this money too? Check out our proposals for consideration in the “Solutions” section of our web site.

In the continued matter of Reed and Clark

A Ramsay County District Judge made a number of rulings about a week ago, rejecting motions filed by attorneys for Ronald Reed and Larry Clark, including a motion to separate their trials, a motion to suppress a first degree murder indictment, and other procedural matters. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported that this “trial of the century” will begin the first week of October.

We are still trying to figure out the following: How did Johnny “Big John” Griffith defuse that bomb? What kind of bomb materials did he possess, and was he the actual bomb maker? If he was any of the above, was Big John responsible for other bombings in the Midwest in the late 60s and early 70’s? And how did Ronald Reed gain access to that telephone inside the Nebraska State Penitentiary to make the telephone call to give the order?

Hopefully these questions can be answered at what will be a most interesting trial. For more background, see our columns of July 9 and August 10, and our web log entries #49 (May 4), #63 (June 23), and #67 (July 9). To get a preview of what must be prevented, injustice, see Chapters 3 and 10 of our book on the Minneapolis courts and criminal justice system. Stay tuned.

Posted August 24, 2005, 11:59 p.m.

August 10, 2005 Column #16: There was no Black Panther Party in Minnesota. Sinister plot concocted to influence all-White jury?

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

Isn’t a shooting range the last place to store grenades and dynamite?

One of the few benefits of age is having lived in decades that young editors, reporters and prosecutors did not live in, and thus they “think” in the “aggregate”: If it happened in some cities, it must have happened in all cities. We are in danger of the fake history of young editors, young reporters, and young prosecutors who are easily led by their superiors with agendas.

Let us be clear: The Black Panthers were never active in Minnesota.

Our young editors, reporters and prosecutors would have us believe that a dangerous chapter of the Black Panther Party existed in Minnesota, and in particular in the Twin Cities. Accident? Lazy? Or setting up prospective jurors for the upcoming trial of Larry Clark and Ronald Reed?

According to the newspaper accounts and recollections of confidential “informants,” Twin Cities Black Panthers were involved in drug dealing, bomb making, recruitment, and other acts of “terror,” culminating in the killing of 27-year-old St. Paul Police Officer James Sackett on May 22, 1970. (See our column of July 9 and web log entries #49 of May 4, #63 of June 23, and #67 of July 9.)

In Connie Trimble’s 1972 trial, confidential “informants” accused the girlfriend of Ronald Reed of being a Black Panther and a participant in the murder of Officer James Sackett in 1970, alleging that she and Black Panther commandos were acting under orders from Black Panther leader Reed, who was imprisoned in the Lincoln, Nebraska, state penitentiary.

These “informants” claimed that key witness Kelly Day was held hostage 36 hours and scared out of testifying at Trimble’s trial. So says Johnny “Big John” Griffen, who is now serving a 30-year sentence for a federal drug conviction. Connie Trimble was acquitted.

Based on a July 30 story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press , Griffen was a bomb maker who had been ordered to bomb the St. Paul Police Department’s community relations building in the heart of the St. Paul Black community. But according to Griffen, he had a change of heart and retrieved the bomb before it was detonated.

This is the same Griffen who was identified in the same story as being the person Ronald Reed told, in the early to mid-1980s as they sat in a West St. Paul parking lot, that he, Reed, shot Officer Sackett. It is our recollection that Reed was still in the penitentiary. So how could he have been in a St. Paul parking lot?

Next, what kind of explosive device was Griffen going to use to blow up the building on Selby? Dynamite and grenades have been falsely alleged as being in the basement of the Inner City Youth League building. Isn’t a shooting range the last place to store grenades and dynamite?

And how could Reed get a private telephone in prison to call Griffen to order him to kidnap Day so he would not testify against Connie Trimble? A Black man in prison in the ‘70s with private phone call privileges? Did the authorities ever question Day on why he didn’t testify in court? It is conveniently too late to ask Day, as he died in 2002.

Now let us review the statement by Geri Olson, who claims that when she shared a cell with Reed’s girlfriend, Connie Trimble, Trimble confessed to Olson that it was her boyfriend, Ronnie Reed, who shot police officer Sackett. How is it that Olson endured the burden of carrying that dark and terrible secret for 33 years? Or is it the reward that is driving the new recollection? We have heard that the reward amount must be in excess of $50,000.

Will our young editors, journalists and prosecutors still talk about powerful and dark sinister deeds being executed by the mysterious and secret organization known as the Black Panther Party of Minnesota—that never existed? In preparing this column, we looked for the history of raids and how many Black Panthers were taken into custody in Minnesota in the period from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. None. We could find no stories.

Why not? Because there was no Black Panther Party in Minnesota. No mass raids. No mass arrests. No mass convictions.

How is it that this lone Black woman, Connie Trimble, acquitted, is the only one ever held accountable? Do you know of any organizations in that day that were that successfully secretive? Do you share the feeling that this is all a part of a fairy tale in a fantasy land made up to ensure that an all-White jury has its thinking “right”?

With bombs overseas and St. Paul calling gang members “terrorists,” are our young editors, journalists and prosecutors setting up prospective White jurors to see civil rights agitators as terrorists? Was Griffen the bomb maker, i.e., a “terrorist”? Not Clark or Reed, as they were in jail. Who defused the bomb? Who made the bomb?

Stay tuned.

Congratulations to the Minneapolis Urban League for resurrecting the Urban League Family Day (in the park).

Posted August 10, 2005, 11:59 p.m.

July 27, 2005 Column #15: The Ship That Has Run Aground: The Minneapolis Civil Rights Conmmission’s Demise

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

The Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission was created in 1967, a time of great expectations. It built a proven track record of working for solutions to integrate all peoples into the life of our city, as it fought for equal access, equal opportunity, fairness and justice. We know, as we were honored to be present at its creation (its Vice Chairman from 1967-1972; its Chairman from 1979-1983).

Early on the Commission gained a reputation of aggressiveness, knowledge, and solutions. For over a decade it was in the forefront, as required and allowed by the Civil Rights ordinance, of every major civil rights issue impacting Minneapolis. Although not paid, as were the city employees of The Civil Rights Department, we were in the community, holding many hearings, gathering information, providing and advocating specific solutions.

For the last twenty years, the Commission has been a ceremonial body that pats itself on the back as it carries water for the DFL, bucks and wings for the politicians (liberal and conservative), making sure it works to keep the lid on any social change, staying as far away as possible from bringing relief to the pain felt by the communities of color in the key areas of education, jobs, housing, and public safety. To enable it to “stay away,” it has not held a public hearing for almost 15 years. Thus, my concern is not the great progress made since 1967. My concern is the lack of progress today that is creating the current problems in our community.

A couple of weeks ago in this column, we talked about a request made to the Civil Rights Commission to review the economic future of African Americans and others in this city.

And so it was with great sadness that we received word from a sitting and current commissioner that once again the Commission has rejected out of hand any review of these issues causing hardship and pain for the African American and other communities of color. We can only conclude that the Commission, as it is not made up of stupid people, is acting out of malice aforethought.

Think about it: no public hearing for almost 15 years. It refuses to look at police - community relations, refuses to hold hearings on economic hardships, refuses to discuss and seek public testimony on crime, drugs and guns, not to mention refusing hearings on poor education outcomes, city non-compliance with its own employment rules, and displacement of Blacks in the ongoing gentrification of the neighborhoods of our African American communities.

Their M.O. (modus operandi, method of operation), is to dismiss the African American community’s concerns and instead to pleasure themselves by reading our obituaries, we the African American community. It is outrageous that a mayor and a city council and other elected and appointed officials give aid and comfort to a body created by the actions of African Americans marching in the streets of this city, often times against the background of the flames of discontent and anger that gripped this city in the 1960s. This is why we continue to raise these questions at meetings, in our book, in these columns, and on our web page. When will the Commission?

The Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission now serves no other purpose than to provide the instrument for the nullification of the rights and the franchise of the African American. The Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission is a ship that has gone aground, an ordinance that has sunk.

God bless the sons and daughters of the African because Minneapolis leaders, Black and white, obviously don’t care enough to do more than talking about the laws and practices in crime and drugs, in education, jobs and housing, that contribute to our problems. These are all great topics for hearings by the Commission. But it doesn’t hold any. It has run aground.

Getting the Plan ready for ‘06

The planning for the crime fighting efforts for 2006 has begun. We assume, after the body count, and after the election of ‘05, that we’ll be told wonderful things once again about the summer of ‘06, that jobs will be in place, that young Black men and women will have a sense of purpose, and that we will have addressed the presence of drugs and guns and, by extension, crime, and we’ll then all feel a bit more fuzzy about the safe summer of 06, just as we were told in ‘03, ‘04, and ‘05. Promises made. Promises broken. The tradition of White America’s relationship with Blacks in inner city America. And so, we have another Shakespearean farce turned tragedy. Maybe somebody could write a play entitled “The Shattering of a Dream.” The Gutherie could commission it, produce it, and Whites could attend and “see” all the good things they are doing for us. In other words, my friends, there is no real plan other than to crack heads and put as many Black people as possible into the jails and penitentiaries . That is one heck of a legacy for a city that prides itself on its liberalism, another farce that contributes to this tragedy.

Posted 7-27-05, 3:02 a.m.

July 13, 2005 Column #14: Where is The Plan for Black’s share of jobs, development?

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

At the July Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission meeting, the newly elected chairman, Mr. Patterson, was not present. The commission did not address a request that was made to them, nor did they keep a promise they made that there would be a report and update on the plan to involve Blacks for new construction in Minneapolis (specifically, the new stadiums—Gophers, Twins, Vikings).

It is important that the commission follow through. It was this same lack of follow-up that led to the African American community getting none of the jobs and none of the contracts on the Hennepin County jail (although we have been welcomed to occupy the jailís cells).

Now the county fathers and mothers are talking about half a billion dollars for a downtown stadium, a quarter billion for the Gophers stadium, and another half billion plus for the Vikings stadium. Including the infrastructure that goes with these, we are talking a minimum of $1.5 billion.

In our April 20, 2005, column, we identified nine projects with the potential of $5 billion in construction. We asked, “What can be done to reverse “Blacks need not apply” for the coming great construction boom?” We ask again: What are the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, Urban League, and NAACP doing to ensure participation by Black contractors and Black workers?

Those jobs and income would greatly help our economically under siege Black community at a time of desperate need; they would also employ some of our young men and women. Aren’t jobs what will help drive our young people away from drugs, guns, and the violence that is manifested by criminal activity? And yet, for example, St. Paul “minority participation” is only at 1.1 percent (***Pioneer Press***, 4-12-05).

In our December 16, 2004, column, “An Endangered Species: The Future of Black Men in Minneapolis,” we asked, “And where are our so-called Black leaders…civil rights organizations…?” Why aren’t they fighting to get the African American community a piece of the action?

And where are the 1,100 jobs Mayor Rybak thought about, and the 400-500 summer jobs other political leaders talked about? This is already July. In light of this, it is understandable that we feel like a community betrayed and lied to once again by both the White and Black leadership.

This comes on the heels of that $300,000 for economic development that was given to the Black community in the summer of 2003, by Target, in response to their closing their Lyndale store. Since June of 2004, we have been told that the Black Chamber of Commerce is “protecting” that money and working on a plan.

Will ìThe Planî be made public before the Olympic Games in 2012 in London? Is the $300,000 gone? If gone, where did it go (Peace Games, other)? In a post-Enron/post-Worldcom/post-Adelphia world, full disclosure is not just needed—it is an imperative.

Why won’t Target Corporation give us an update publicly? We wonder if those involved have followed the U.S. Congress in “earmarking” funds for personal pet projects. In corporate America, $300,000 is chump change, but to a community that is trying to survive, it could be a matter of life and death.

Until we get an answer, we know the right thing to do is to continue to ask about The Plan.

Why no Urban League Family Day?

As the longest serving president of the Minneapolis Urban League (1978-1989), we always felt great pride in the event known as Urban League Family Day, a rich tradition that supported the values of family. We were greatly disappointed to hear that it will no longer be an event that graces our community.

We know these are tough times, but the battle to retain our traditions and institutions is significant, for how else do we prevent our extinction? The values, the pride, the fellowship and the history of the sons and daughters of the African must not be allowed to disappear out of neglect.

Earlier this month in Harlem, the first “Black Fatherhood Summit” was held. In our columns of May 18, 2005, and June 15, 2005, we wrote of the “open letter” from the director of the St. Paul Human Rights Department branding young Blacks and their friends and family as “terrorists.” We wrote our own “open letter” response (see our website blog entry #51, May 8, 2005).

We have written in our book on what Jawanza Kunjufu calls “The State of Emergency [among] African American Males” and, in our website’s “solutions” section, is our Nov 11, 2003, paper on our having “Higher Hopes for Youth Than Hip Hop.”

We continue to fight against the counterproductive and self-destructive ghetto culture regarded as “authentic” by many Black youths and thus “untouchable” by the DFL (and an excuse to offer no help, as that is “just the way we are”).

When will Black leaders stand up against the notion of Black manhood as money, sex and irresponsibility, and instead stand up for family, for being a dad to children, especially sons, and for instilling respect for women, responsibility for children, and accountability for self?

Posted 7-14-05, 8:34 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

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.

« Previous Quarter | Next Quarter »
Home | 2005 Columns » | All Columns » | 2005 Blogs »