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2007 Blog Entries
September ~ Entries #31 - #35

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9-14-07, Blog #35: Why does The Spirit of Justice Taney live on in this city and its police?

Where else besides the MPD (Minneapolis Police Department) does the Justice Taney spirit of the Dred Scott decision live on in Minneapolis?

The Supreme Court essentially cancelled the 14th Amendment with its Dred Scott Decision. As Justice Taney wrote, "There are just no rights that a Black American has that we ... are obligated to respect and honor."

Is that why our police demonstrated a "no obligation to respect or honor" our citizens of color, and left former Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee waiting outside her home for over two hours for police that did not come to investigate a shooting in which at least three gunmen drove by shooting upon a party of 60-70 children, hitting a 12 year old girl in the head, sending her to the hospitlal in critical condition where she is on life support systems, with probably 80% brain damage.

The police declined to interview Johnson-Lee and declined to canvas the neighborhood, ignoring potential witness over looking real forensic evidence. Johnson-Lee was told she was not considered significant witness, even though it happened in front of her house. She was told the incident was not significant. This is the 5 th shooting of African Americans under the age of 15, and the MPD is calling it insignificant. As with Justice Taney, it appears that for the MPD, there is nothing of value that the Negro represents for the MPD.

Posted 9-22-07, 11:59 p.m.
9-23-07, 1:30 a.m. update: the neighborhood's people have still not been interviewed by the police.

9-14-07, Blog #34: Mayor, Police Chief and Democrats out of control (or a stealth plan?)? Seven more deadly sins or paranoia? Are they planning to use assault rifles in our neighborhoods?

One: The Violent Offenders Task Force (VOTF) has been transferred to a secret location outside City Hall (or so they thought: we know its in the old Federal building in downtown Minneapolis, two blocks from City Hall). And they are now under the direction of the federal ATF (Alchohol, Tobacco and Firearms). Now the City doesn't have to state what the VOTF's purpose is. They and the Strib can play dumb. See our columns of August 29, 2007 and Sept 12, 2007.

Two: there is an attempt afoot to charge Lt. Mike Keith of a federal crime on the basis of a false accusation that he discussed a couple of ongoing investigations in his complaint. Chief Dolan made this attack on his own officer. But Lt. Keith didn't do as accused. Thus the U.S. Attorney said no. When the Chief of the police department starts to go after his own people, we wonder what else is going on that the Chief doesn't want known that gives him such paranoia?

Three: it is absolutely reprehensible that neither the Mayor nor the Chief are intentionally NOT disciplining Sgt. Pat King for his racial animus and epithets. See our column of August 29, 2007 (we maintain that it is because Lt. Keith won't put up with that that he is being treated as he is).

Four: silence, secret, or cover up? In our Blog entry #32 of 9-13-07, A city going out of control? we listed 3 separate shooting incidents and a beating to death. Now we find out that there was yet another incident of gunfire that day, at 1:30 p.m., with the attempt to keep it quiet. It occurred at Broadway and Bryant Avenue North. Why does the Strib fail to write about these shootings?.

Five: The Strib has been told to suppress any stories about Lt. Keith. How is that done. Simple: from City Hall to the publisher to the editors to the reporters. They only want to print the news that is fit for them.

Six: Dennis Hill, 63, a white man, was beaten by the police in April. He is a 25 year bus driver with the MTC (Metropolitan Transit Commission). He is 5'6", 165# (an easy guy to beat). He tried to get redress in May. He was ignored. His report was sanitized. All played dumb, in violation of our City Charter. He has received brain damage. When at the U.S. Attorney's office to file a civil rights complaint, he stumbled and fell, due to his condition. When he talked to the U.S. Attorney's office they had a police report: but a sanitized one. She was told to check the Caps (pronounced capers) system to fine a copy of what he had: a copy of the official, unsanitized report (again, if this time, how many other times have the police covered up in reports to the US Attorney about their behavior?). He then went to the City Department of Civil Rights where he was told that they were too busy to take his complaint, and to come back on the 24 th . Now as we know reporting is a matter of filling out forms how is it that they were too busy to hand him forms to fill out?

Seven: suppression of news by the Strib continues. We are supposed to have freedom of the press. So why do the new Strib owners continue the old policy of the Strib suppressing the news when asked to by the City? This is a reverse of denying freedom of the press. They have that freedom. What is scary is that the Strib continues to exercise its "freedom" to not exercise its professional obligation, journalistic responsibility (akin to corporate fiduciary responsibilty), as it voluntarity censors as a favor to its buddies, or to censor for those it seeks favor from, or in order to get a better deal for the property they are trying to sell.

Question for white Minneapolis: Does any of this give you pause? You have stood silent about the shootings and beating of Blacks. What now when your police department beats up whites and falsely punishes a white officer for not supporting condoned racist actions within the department?

Historic perspective on civil rights: it has been asked how can a white guy file a civil rights suit? Simple. Recall the 90s statement: "it depends on what "is" is." Civil rights laws were to remedy discrimination against Blacks as part of the response to undo the long term effects of slavery. The best way to weaken them is to dilute them as if there is no residual result of slavery. Thus, the law has been changed to include whites, disability, age, immigrants, domestic conflicts, domestic partnerships, etc., so that Blacks, once again, get pushed to the back of the line, which Minneapolis keeps trying to make "our place". The country, courtesy of the Democrats, now reaps what has been legally sown. So anyone, now, can file a civil rights complaint, being entitled to do so by ordinance. But it enables them to keep us from reaping what we should reap.

Historic perspective on the future: the famous question "to be or not to be" is now more deadly: "to have assault rifles or not to have them in the hands of our police?" Is the story in the Strib Sunday the 16 th a way of "softening" the city's reaction for their wider use? The story, Officers in Miami given option to use assault rifles, because assault rifles have been used against them reminds us of an old Star Trek episode when Captain Kirk explains to warring factions how to resolve it: escalate weapons and force until one side defeats the other. You would expect assault rifles to be in the hands of SWAT teams and special units. But why continued in patrol cars? Why excalate, especially in our neighborhoods. We don't like gangs and shooting any more than anyone else. Indeed we continue to encourage action to reduce their influence. But won't escalating the fire power cause them to do the same? Do we wind up having to destroy our communities to save them?

The article states that " Patrol officers in Danbury, Conn., have been allowed to carry the weapons since 2003. Police departments in Merced, Calif., and Waterloo, Iowa, have deployed them in all patrol vehicles for several years. Officers in Los Angeles have been equipped with the weapons even longer, ... 1997." Minneapolis has had assault rifles and sniper rifles in patrol cars since the early 2000s. We discovered this when Officer Charles Story mistakenly shot Officer Duy Ngo with such a weapon (see our column of April 7, 2004).

The PCRC (Police Community Relations Council) has been on record since 2005 as being against these weapons being in patrol cars. In this column, we have long been concerned about what seems to be the wrong targeting of the Black population (see our column of June 21, 2006, A Safe City? Wrongly Targeting the Black Population).

Assault rifles in patrol cars are an example of failure, not safety, as they show how cities have failed to provide education of high enough quality to reduce and prevent drop outs, qualifying graduates for jobs, not to mention social welfare policy that weakens, not strengthens neighborhoods. We continue to oppose patrol cars being outfitted with assault rifles and sniper rifles in an urban environment. Leave them to SWAT and special units. What benefits our communities if we have to destroy neighborhoods to save them?

Posted 9-16-07, 11:59 p.m.

9-14-07, Blog #33: Mayor can't get results without the numbers.

This morning we read in the Strib this headline: "Rybak: Police staffing about results, not numbers." And yet when you read our blog entry yesterday about all of the shootings, one can see that both citizens and the Police Officers Federation are correct: he won't realize the results without the numbers. And when we read that the "numbers" say that " Violent crime is down 13 percent so far this year, while all crime is down almost 6 percent," we realize he is cooking the interpretation because these "lows" are still higher that 2005, as the Strib reports: "both categories remain above 2005 figures. "

Posted 9-14-07, 11:58 p.m.

9-13-07, Blog #32: A city going out of control?

On the anniversary week of the 9-11 attack, top officials show cowardice, not courage. This week the city's backbone fell.

Tuesday, 9-11-07, seven senior Black police officers met with Michale Jordan, Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, in an unprecedented meeting of that nature (see our column this week). Their expectations: a directors charge, a class action law suit, and federal receivership of the police department.

Wednesday morning, 9-12-07, the Mayor and the City Council Executive Committee hid behind feigned ignorance at our PCRC (Police Community Relations Council) report to them when we talked about the 7 senior Black police officers that had met the night before with Michael Jordan, asking him to make a formal Director's complaint against the city for its treatment of Black police officers.

Wednesday afternoon, 9-12-07, the Mayor hid behind his Black liaison assistant, Sherman Patterson, who he sent to the meeting the Mayor was supposed to attend with the heads of the three largest Black denominations in Minneapolis, Bishop Washington, Bishop Howell, and the Rev. Jerry McAffee. The meeting was to discuss the treatment of Black police officers. When Patterson showed up instead of the scheduled Mayor, the three, properly understanding of and angry about how they, how the Black police officers, and how our communities of color had been dismissed and disrespected by the Mayor, got up and left. No meeting was held.

Thursday evening, 9-13-07: at approximately 8:40 p.m., outside the 4th Precinct, at least three gunmen (three because three sets of shell casings were later found), firing automatic assault rifles, gunned down two young African Americans, ages14 and 15 years old. Not much else is known because the police cowered in the building until they were sure the shooters were gone. The 14 year old ran into the precinct before collapsing. The 15 year old ran to his church where his mother was at choir practice, at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church, 12th and Morgan, where he collapsed.

Thursday, 9-13-07, some timeafter 8:30 p.m, at 26th St. and 17th Avenue South, police and an unknown individual exchanged gunfire.

Thursday, 9-13-07, at about 9:15 pm, an African American male was shot on W. Broadway in North Minneapolis, and apparently was transported by unknown persons to HCMC, where he is reported to be in poor condition.

Thursday, 9-13-07: after a white man was found beaten to death in the 3700 block of Elliott Avenue South, the police responded quickly and en mass.

Thursday, 9-13-07, Miami, FL. Its not just Minneapolis.
Tonight, in Miami, a Black gunmen killed one police officer and wounded three others: "Shawn Sherwin LaBeet, 25, opened fire through a window with an assault rifle, possibly an AK-47." In S. Florida, over the past 10 months, 3 law officers have been shot dead. We don't condone LaBeet, who has two pending cases of Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon stemming from incidents in North Lauderdale. But it does highlight what we have long called the war against young Black men in this country, and the need to directly address it by closing the severe gaps in equal opportunity and equal access to education and jobs.

Some say you get the politicians you deserve. We have never subscribed to that, as it defends both the tyrant as well as the cowardly and inept. And how, from a humanitarian standpoint, can you make such a clam? The citizens of Minneapolis in general and the communities of color in particular, deserve far better than the politicians that we have.

Posted 9-13-07, 11:59 p.m.

9-12-07, Blog #31: "Change of scenery for Vikings?"

That is the question we ended our 9-12-07 column with. We noted the Vikings were facing their first blackout in over a decade. But KMSP-TV, Channel 9, came to the "rescue" and paid $25,000 to purchase the 1,700 tickets needed to push total sales over 62,000 tickets, the number to prevent a blackout. Of course, had KMSP-TV not done so, it would have lost $250,000 in advertising dollars.

On Monday night, 9-10-07, our KMSP-TV, Channel 9, that carries the Vikings, stated in its news program that in its recent poll, 79% of those polled said that they were against any tax money going to build a new stadium for the Vikings. In another poll, KMSP-TV reported that 72% were against paying a nickel/gallon raise in gas taxes to pay for bridge repair

From the polls above, investing in the Vikes is more unpopular than a nickel raise in the gas tax. Is this a message demonstrating a tremendous lack of support for the Vikings in Minnesota?

When ten guys from the top ten old line families couldn't get a stadium deal, who then sold to Red who couldn't, who then sold to Zygi who is running into the same result, well, there is a message here, which is spelled out in Chapter 15 of my 2002 book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes: no stadium deal means they will have to leave town, as the Lakers and North Stars before them. No one has ever stepped forward to deny or show as incorrect anything that was written in Chapter 15, "Say Goodbye to the Vikigns: They are Leaving. That is the Plan." Not one. Nor has anyone stepped forward to deny or refute the roll call of those who say the team should leave (because there are too many pro teams in Minneapolis to support) or that they will leave if a stadium deal is not forthcoming. Not one.

Posted 9-12-07, 4:22 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

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