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2007 Blog Entries
March ~ Entries #4 - #5

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03-17-07, Blog #5: The community tree withers without its grass roots

On March 13, 2007, the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission voted unanimously, 3-0, to extend certification to March 2010, showing that not all of our grass roots are withering.

Our community has suffered as the forces of darkness of nullification and reversal have draped their covers over the light of fairness and justice. On Tuesday, March 13, 2007, the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission voted unanimously, 3-0, to extend certification to March 2010. We commend the three commissioners for instructing the Director to recommend the extension. We will continue our work to pull back those covers.

Recall our Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder column of January 17, 2007: Minneapolis backpedaling on civil rights protections in the matter of Rule 8.03B.

We have also referred to this as " The End Of Diversity In The MPD: Another example of 'The Forces of Nullification and Reversal.'"

In that column we noted that the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission was being pressured by the Mayor's office, with the full blessing of all but one of The Minneapolis City Council (the exception being Ralph Remington, Democrat, 10th Ward), to eliminate, or "purge," expanded certification in all city departments, and specifically in the Minneapolis Police Department.

The City Attorney's office provided a written legal opinion stating that expanded certification of Civil Service Commission Rule 8.03B was not necessary, that the city should therefore not extend it and instead follow the rule's "sunset provision so that the existing rule will expire March 14,2007." What was that rule?

In the City Attorney's office own words: "Expanded certification is a race conscious policy.... One compelling governmental interest is to remedy past discrimination by the City of Minneapolis as a hiring entity.

And why did the City Attorney recommend not extending certification of Rule 8.03B? Because, regarding discrimination in the Minneapolis Police Department (emphasis added):

" ... the conclusion of the City of Minneapolis ... expert Paul Bayless, determined that there was no such discrimination in the MPD hiring practices ... in the past or ... currently engaging in discrimination in its hiring practices.


"There does not appear to be a history of discrimination by the City to remedy. ... it is the City Attorney Office's recommendation to Human Resources that the Civil Service Commission allow Rule 8.03B to expire on March 14,2007.

Wow. To see the full text of this memo from the City Attorney's office, go here for page one and go here for page two.

People have asked me why I used the terms "nullification and reversal" Now you see why.

Recall these words from my January 31 column about the city's ruling: "We were stunned. We could feel the earth tremble beneath our feet and the shifting of the anti-civil rights tectonic plates of nullification and reversal."

Also in our column #2 of January 17, we stated the city was clearly overwhelmed by the forces of nullification and reversal. In our column #5 of February 28, we used the phrase, referring to the homicides of young blacks, "how close the dark forces of nullification and genocide are with respect to the future of our young men of color."

And, for me, a staunch Nellie Stone Johnson democrat (Nellie, with Hubert H. Humphrey, created the DFL), I raised the very difficult question about today's democrats: why do we Blacks keep voting for Democrats? Democrats control most of the cities and the entire education system that keeps inner city young Blacks down and "in their place,"

With the citizen commissioners of the Minneapolis Civil Service Commission, we are seeing the people gaining their voice again.

Which brings us back to the "pull quote" of our January 31 column: How can this city claim it has no history of discrimination? I have heard of holocaust deniers. Now we get discrimination deniers, as if slavery, Jim Crow, and Minnesota forces of nullification and reversal never happened.

A federal oversght committee was establilsehed in 1979 regarding our Fire Department. For over 21 years, I was oversight overseer. It was ten years ago that we first recommended this Rule 8.03B. As a result, the Minneapolis Fire Department is today acknowledged by the National Fire fighters Association and the National Association of Fire Chiefs, as well as in various university studies of what is called "protective departments" (that is, police and fire), that our Fire Department is the most diverse fire department in the United States.

Sadly, the police continue to fight this battle. As a result, the Minneapolis Police Department is the least diverse, with current plans to continue to whittle away at what little diversity there. In ou 2007 columns, we have chronicled the success of their own discrimination denial actions.

We on the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) will continue to work to raise the level of diversity of the Police Department, something that should be seen as a good move toward dealing with the problems of our inner city Black communities, especially in terms of dealing with gangs that are so influential with our young. Influential Black officers in our communities would greatly help matters.

I have saved the saddest for last: the absolute refusal of both the white establishment (the City council, the Star Tribune), and the Minneapolis black establishment (the NAACP, the Urban League, the Ministers Association, etc.) to stand up against discrimination denial.

White Minneapolis, in terms of the political class, encouraged discrimination denial. White Minneapolis, in terms of the Star Tribune, exercised discrimination denial and refused to report on it.

But most shocking of all, Black Minneapolis leaders are also practicing discrimination denial, and, as one, refused to stand up and be counted, refused to protest this denial of our own history, refused to stand up for fairness and justice, for equal access and equal opportunity.

For too many civil rights leaders in Minneapolis, our own "Pettis Bridge" has become a bridge to nowhere, except for the PCRC and now the Civil Service Commission.

When Dr. Martin Luther King led activists, some beaten, across the Edmund Pettis Bridge to Selma, Alabama in March of 1965, he helped them march with their eyes on the prizes of civil rights, the prizes of equal access and equal opportunity, the prizes of fairness and justice. In Minneapolis, our so-called Black "leaders" are inactive, silent, passive. They no longer march. They slowly walk, with tired old man grandpa steps, to nowhere.

We humbly invite the new owners of the Star Tribune to return to the honesty and great journalism once practiced by this paper they have acquired, as seen in its ground breaking and award winning June 1990 series on "Issues of Race," and we invite the NAACP and Urban League to stop waiting for the Godot of money that will not be forthcoming from either Democrats or Republicans, and to either stand up for our community or step aside and let the next generation you are holding down step up, take your places, and create a new sense of grass roots to again bring nourishment and growth to our community tree.
Posted 3-17-07, 8:46 p.m. Edits at 10:15 p.m.

03-3-07, Blog #4: Is Lieutenant Kroll the Police Department's troll, keeper of its flagpole, or something else?

In Thursday's Star Tribune, the headline was "Cop accused of slur against Rep. Ellison." In another of those Orwellian language moments, we read that even though Lt. Kroll "denies implying that the Fifth District DFLER is a terrorist, ...the chief already has apologized."

Kroll had a triple play at the required police ethics class this week. First he characterized the city council as crook-types, citing the cases of Heron, Bierman, and Zimmerman. Deputy Chief Gurlicker said nothing. Then Kroll questioned the ethics of any city that would hire a city coordinator convicted of a misdemeanor crime, referring to Steven Bosacker. Again, Deputy Chief Gurlicker said nothing. Then Kroll accused Ellison of being an Islamic terrorist, on the assumption that as he is a Muslim, he must also be a terrorist. Again Deputy chief Gurlicker said nothing.

City protocol calls for having commentators with animus to step out of the room and, if they can't keep control, be dismissed for the day. More shocking that Kroll's comments is that despite making three supercharged statements, Deputy Chief Gurlicker, in attendance, did nothing, said nothing.

So, is Lt. Kroll like a troll at a bridge, a menace to all travelers, or is he the keeper of the department's flag pole, running up various flags to see what can be gotten away with and what cannot, for, in the past, the response to his actions is not punishment but promotion?

And with such luminaries at the required police ethics class where Kroll made his comments as Deputy Chief Gurlicker and city ethics officer Susan Trumbel, how is it the Mayor and other interviewed keep saying "alleged" and "if he did say it" while in the next breath apologizing? Have they not talked to Susan Trumbel? If not, why not? Have they not talked to Deputy Chief Gurlicker? If not, why not? Doesn't anyone trust anyone? Have we gotten to the point where our city leaders question even the reality that truth exists, so that their views become "truth," regardless?

Is Kroll the troll out of control or out on assignment? His reward each time: promotion. Indeed, this triple play comes after a 20-day suspension for misconduct. So is Kroll the department's irreplaceable lighting rod taking the heat for what the department wants to get out to the public, in not so subtle code words, about how they really feel about diversity? Is this the department's way of finding out how much they can and cannot get away with in terms of their long time record to push the envelope in skirting various compliance statutes, protocols and procedures? What will be the excuse and cover up by the Mayor and the chief be this time?
Posted 3-3-07, 4:10 p.m.

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

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