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

2007 Blog Entries
December ~ Entry #36

Home | 2007 Columns » | All Columns » | 2007 Blogs »

12-14-07, Blog #36: The Twin Towers of Minneapolis' Nullification and Reversal Begin to Finally Crumble as 5 Black Officers Sue the City for discrimination.

The recent headlines tell the story: in the Strib: High-ranking black cops sue Minneapolis Police Department; in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: Black officers sue MPD, Chief Dolan

The press conference on Monday, December 3, 2007, announcing the law suit set up the rest of the press conferences. And, as if to give a preview to and credence for the law suit, the Strib reported the week previous to the press conference, coincidentally, as backdrop serendipity, the discriminatory act of Minneapolis detective in bicyclist case reassigned, to which Outcry over Minneapolis detective's transfer grows.

This is historic on many levels as it relates to the ongoing discussion of what to do with an "immigrant magnet city" such as Minneapolis which is one of the emerging "multiple melting pots."

How this law suit is handled will have ramifications in governance and race relations far beyond the borders of Minneapolis. The ignoring of the problems by the Mayor/City Hall and the Chief/MPD, are chickens that are now coming home to roost.

The city's response is to harden its discrimination denial so as to portray the police chief as a victim ("Lonely at the top"), and to have the Director of the City's Civil Rights Department to take the gloves off against your "notorious" columnist and fairness and justice advocate ( see 5 black police officers play blame game with Jordan).

And remember, the suit is not about the discrimination of not hiring enough Blacks (although, as we will see, trying to avoid it by the city contributes to the internal problems). This law suit is about four forms of internal, on the job discrimination: (1) career advancement/promotions, (2) job benefits like training/assignments/overtime, (3) creating a hostile environment that promotes esprit de corp for whites at the exclusion of the Blacks when any paramilitary force only works well when all members are integrated into the team, regardless of color or gender or creed, and (4) being again put "in their place" by having the truth of their grievances dismissed by the city's black Civil Rights Department Director as merely being that of "disgruntled cops near the end of their careers."

As no one has yet figured out how to get around the appearance of discrimination, a rule of statistics is used that suggests that any department would have, as a percentage of its members, the same percentage of the group as in the population.

The department maintains that 18% are minorities. Most people will read that and say, hey, there are only 12% Blacks in this country and here they have 18% Black cops, so what's the beef?

It doesn't work that way. First of all, cities have more blacks than suburbs. Thus, Minneapolis city has nearly 20% Blacks (whereas Detroit, by contrast, is 81% Black and Atlanta 70%). This means that there should be nearly 20% in the police department. The 18% "people of color" would seem to be "close enough."

But that figure is a lie.

And its perception of being about Blacks is a lie.

It has taken us a long time to get the information from the department, but the PCRC finally obtained a list of officers by race (and note these are self-designated, so we don't know how many non-Blacks are using the category in order to get a job).

In the city of Minneapolis, 18% of the population is African American and 10% of the population is Hispanic. I couldn't find numbers on the Asian population here right now. Read more about Demographics of Diversity in Minnesota and read the WCCO piece on African Americans in North Minneapolis, and this piece on immigration.

And where does the MPD get the 18% figure? It is from Census Bureau statistics as reported by both the University of Minnesota, which has reported that Minneapolis race and ethnic breakdown is:

African-American: 18%
Asian: 6.10%
American Indian and Alaskan: 2.20%
White: 65.10%
Hispanic (not listed, although other sources cited say 10%).

and city statistics re races in Minneapolis:

White Non-Hispanic (62.5%)
Black (18.0%)
Hispanic (7.6%)
Two or more races (4.4%)
Other race (4.1%)
Other Asian (3.6%)
American Indian (3.3%)
Chinese (0.6%)
Vietnamese (0.6%)
(Total can be greater than 100% because Hispanics could be counted in other races)

As you can see, the 18% figure refers to "minorities," not people of color. And people of color often refers now not to Blacks but to Asians, Hispanics, American Indians, etc.

And so Minneapolis continues to try to reduce the number of Blacks in the police force. Of the people of color, or minorities, on the police force, less than half are Black. The number of Blacks is closer to 7.5%. The rest, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, are listed due to self-classification. We applaud the inclusion of Hispanic, Native Americans, and Asians, and respect these brothers and sisters of color. But that is not the point.

So lets look at how these liars are lying with figures, hiding behind the skirt of another lie: that figures don't lie.

The underlying dynamic has not changed since 1880 when there were only 262 Blacks in Minneapolis: paternalism, even by enlightened leaders, even Wheatley House settlement house reformers. Paternalism is the liberal nice-word for plantation bosses. 1930: 4,176 Blacks. In 1923, Minneapolis had 10 Ku Klux Klan chapters, as this small number instilled in the town fear, paternalism and prejudice. Minneapolis was also identified as one of the most anti - Semitic cities in the country.

The Star Tribune would have you believe this all started 9-11-07, that it is isolated, and due to the bungling of Michael Jordan. He served at City's table but is expendable so they are making his "mistakes" the reason.

They lie.

All Jordan was doing was what he was told to do by the Mayor.

That he didn't stand up for the mission of his department is troubling. But he is but one more in a long line of servants of a city that fights integration and fights the equal access and equal opportunity that integration implies.

This law suit's beginning wasn't 9-11-07 but from 1920 when restrictive immigrations quotas opened up jobs for Blacks previously given to mostly European immigrants now restricted. Minneapolis response to this northern migration of Negroes was segregating, not integrating, and the opportunities of welcome and integration began their patterns of postponement and sabotage.

9/11 with Jordan was merely the straw that broke the camel's back. 9/11 was the trigger.

The law suit is not only about their lies but about their covering it up. The other articles referenced above are about their lie about a murdered bicyclist, stating he was on a drug buy so as to cover the truth that yes, you can be randomly killed on the streets of Minneapolis. The Mayor and Chief would have us believe it only happens to gang bangers. Therefore, if it happens to you, you must be a gangbanger.

An inversion is being corrected in Minneapolis. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked that we be judged by the content of our character, and not by the color of our skin. The city has long inverted that, standing it on its head: judge us by the color of our skin (white is wonderful) as we lack character in civil rights. This law suit turns what had been turned on its head back on its feet.

The city's response before and since: lying.

Not a sign of good character. Just like the Police Chief of Nottingham in Robin Hood. The people don't count. Especially the residents of Minneapolis' inner city Sherwood Forest.

Our Nottingham nemises has a flawed theory. The Mayor, Chief and City look the part but are fake; they can't be trusted. Hence the PCRC; hence the call for receivership that would put the police department under federal control until the city gets it right with the MPD. The chief and mayor live in a dream world. Whatever they have "dropped" with Tim O'Leary, they have tuned out the facts and have created a dream world.

Let's remember that at first, civil rights dealt with making up for the results of 400 years of servitude and not being allowed to be educated and prosper. Sadly, that is the situation still in the inner cities.

Civil rights has been replaced by special interest group rights, with so many now classified as "minorities" that the head of Minneapolis' Civil Rights Department, a Black man, brags that Minneapolis can meet its hiring requirements in terms of minorities without hiring any Blacks.

In 1991, the Strib ran a tremendous series indicating how racist Minnesota is (that is, not just disliking or fearing Blacks, but actually discriminating in the sense of preventing Blacks from doing things solely on account of the color of their skin, things like get schooling, jobs, housing, etc).

And what was done? Not much. The key term? Minorities.

What did "minorities" originally mean? Blacks. African-Americans. Negroes. That became too much. It is one thing to accept equality in the mind, it is another to live it. So what has Minneapolis done? Gone, along with the national trend to define minorities as any group not white male, so that, as we have reported in our columns, the civil rights department has bragged that they can meet minority hiring requirements without hiring Blacks. And so they don't, denying equal access and equal opportunity.

And so "diversity" is the new code word for segregation. Diversity now means there are Blacks. And in school after school in this country, more and more are becoming less and less integrated. But they represent diversity, as they have Blacks (even if it now means mostly Blacks).

The city is surprised by this suit not because of what it contains, but that five officers were strong enough, bold enough, and of character enough, to confront them after long trying to deal with this without a law suit, as the stories linked above report. The city has long had the attitude, "Bring it on." Now they are surprised that these five men are man enough to bring it.

You need not only eyes to see but the desire to see. You not only need ears to hear but the desire to hear. The city has played blind man's bluff. These officers have decided its time to play pin the tail on the donkey.

It should not be a surprise that 5 Black police officers sued the city and that, as a result, the PCRC (Police Community Relations Council) has called for the department to be placed in receivership and run by the feds. That this is an unexpected surprise felt by the City (Mayor, Police Chief, City Council, Civil Rights Department, Black organizations), reveals how much they felt they had Blacks in their place and that they could continue the status quo of discrimination with the help of the Black organizations that could "deliver" Blacks to them.

It is also a comment on how they ignored the warnings I provided them in my book, The Minneapolis Story , especially Chapter 16, "The Status Quo Future: Same 'ol, same 'ol." The preview I discussed of the future in that chapter is now here. Indeed, the chapter headings is "Unrest, Disturbance: The Status Quo Price Minneapolis is Willing to Pay" to keep the status quo. With this law suit, that status quo is finally broken and smashed.

So I am not surprised to hear back stage reports that the Mayor and the Chief and the Civil Rights Department Director are all blaming me. That's like blaming the rock for breaking the window that the kid tossed through it, or like blaming the California fire destruction on fire instead on the arsonists in some cases or the pollcies in most that refuse to allow the kindling to be removed from its "natural" setting and thus be fuel for any fire.

As the 45 page law suit points out, the city has been tossing lots of rocks, and the Police Department has been letting the kindling pile up on the precinct floors until this combustion finally took place, feeding on all the incidents of racism and discrimination over the 20 year service life of these officers.

What goes unsaid, but needs to be highlighted, is that this is no secret to Chief Dolan. He has been on the force for 22 years. He is part and parcel of the good 'ol boys of the white officers, and his actions and this suit highlight this fact.

If the stakes were not so high and the consequences not so troubling, it would be laughable for the city, especially the chief, to claim I have some kind of power to cloud peoples' minds, like The Shadow, or twist them like pretzels like Plastic Man, or being stealthy like the Invisible Woman, or bust through their walls like the Thing or burn down their public facades like Johnny Storm. I am not the Fantastic Four. But the Mayor, the chief, the civil rights director, and the City Council are the unfabulous four when it comes to failing to serve the whole community, concentrating on the white part and discriminating against the Black part.

I'm just one guy, a community activist, focused on speaking the truth for all, taking one step at a time, one word at a time, one day at a time, one column at a time, laying out my case regarding what Minneapolis does to violate the civil rights of its Black citizens. So when they attribute special powers to me, they think they are off the hook. Sorry folks.

The City has populated its pond with incident after incident of racism, discrimination, and hostility. They then put the hooks on the line, baited their own hooks with their own racist and discriminatory acts, and cast their lines, only to be surprised to catch this whale of their own creation. I'm just the reporter on the fishing beat.

What is happening is that this law suit (which is not by me or about me) serves as affirmation of what I've been saying over the years. Minneapolis is a racist city that believes it can act on that racism and discriminate against Blacks and deny them equal access and equal opportunity, especially in education, jobs, and housing.

I wrote a book in 2002 detailing this. Copies were given to the Mayor and city Council and Strib and the University and HHH, Black organizations, etc. It was spurned by the City, the Black organizations, and the Black leadership/ministerial forum, all of whom told people not to buy it and not to read it.
The NAACP expelled me for writing it (not for what I wrote but that I wrote). They took no corrective action. The pressure just continued to build. The dam had to break at some point. Now it has. So this law suit should not come as a surprise.

The Minneapolis Spokesman Recorder has carried my columns where, on a weekly basis since 2003, I have detailed the city's racism and discrimination, especially in the areas of jobs and the treatment of Black police. So this law suit should not come as a surprise.

As the spokesman for the Black Police Officers Association since 1996, I have been able to write about this. But the city took no corrective action. The pressure just continued to build. So this law suit should not come as a surprise.

This web site has carried a web log, "Closing the Gaps," about the gaps in Minneapolis between Blacks and whites regarding equal access and equal opportunity in education, jobs, housing, public safety, environment, governance, and ethics.
It has been open to all. But the city took no corrective action. The pressure just continued to build. So this law suit should not come as a surprise.

This law suit will have a major impact on city politics and race relations. That too should not come as a surprise, especially if the city maintains, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that it has done no wrong and need take no corrective action. The last time they took this stance it led to the feds making them engage in mediation that, given their attempts to sabotage the mediation process, resulted in the PCRC. Should they continue their same 'ol same 'ol, they risk the next, predictable step, the police department being put into receivership.

And saying they'll be good boys in the future is not enough. They have to show it in action and by institutionalizing the needed changes.

As I noted at the top of this entry, Martin Luther King, Jr., famously asked that we be judged by our character, not by the color of our skin. The law suit about police discrimination in the department, illustrates the need for such judgment. You see, the city is asking us to judge it on the basis of its skin color, not by its character. Why? Because it can demonstrate its whiteness but it can't demonstrate its character. Why?

Because the City has chosen to lie. It won't, and therefore can't, demonstrate character. And that is one of the city's biggest character flaws: official lying by lying officials. Lying for decades, lying for years, lying for months. And in their press conferences cited above, the city officials lied again.

The law suit says Blacks are discriminated against in both hiring and in treatment once hired. The City denies it. They lie, as the figures shown above demonstrate. Because they view discriminating behavior as normal, they can't see it, and instead fall back on the defense of numbers, a percentage, as if because they have hired minorities (less than half of which are Black) that it means they are an organization that sings Kumbaya and does trust falls.

Why did so many press conferences abound the week of Decemer 4 th ? Because this is a historic law suit, a suit against the police department that has resulted in the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a city administration: having the call put out for the putting of your Police Department under receivership (taken over and run by the Federal Government). Press conferences were held by the PCRC, by the MPD, by the Mayor, by City Council members. The law suit calls for a day of reckoning for all of the discrimination in the department over the decades in general and against the five suing police officers in particular.

The police have been one of our four main areas of concern.
We would hope that parallel suits could be done for education (by students and their parents), jobs (5 columns on this are highlighted at the top of the page), and housing (of which the Hollman taking, with NAACP collusion, remains the sad model of what not to do).

Posted December 14, 2007, 10:30 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.

Home | 2007 Columns » | All Columns » | 2007 Blogs »