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2008 Columns
Quarter 3: July thru September ~ Columns #24 - #36

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September 24, 2008 Column #36: Is an exit plan for MPD chief in place?

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

2009 will be an election year for municipal offices in Minneapolis. Normally, people are drained and nonchalant about elections the year after a presidential election. But, there is an undercurrent in Minneapolis that will make the '09 elections a career-changer.

As with all undercurrents, much is negative. Incumbents wonder if they will be able to hold on or lose traction for their ambition for re-election or for higher elective office. All will have to deal with certain facts, one of which will be like the multi-headed monster in Greek mythology that grows back every head that gets cut off, and that will hang around some necks like an albatross or millstone.

We are, of course, talking about an issue that will be central to Minneapolis: the fate of Police Chief Tim Dolan and how his fate will impact the fate of others.

So, we were not surprised to learn that the rumor mill is already discussing various scenarios. Twelve council members, almost two years ago, voted to appoint Tim Dolan as MPD (Minneapolis Police Department) chief. Only Ralph Remington (DFL-10th Ward) resisted the tidal wave. Back then, there was a lot of criticism of the freshman council member for doing so.

That was then. This is now. Councilman Remington now stands as the correct one.

After numerous lawsuits, high-profile incidents, and what could be a disastrous performance report in connection with the Republican National Convention, people are not only saying its time for a change, but are wondering what shape that change will take.

The 12 now seek to soften the blow about their judgment of what should have been something good that became so wrong.

Chief Dolan still has support in city hall and in the Minneapolis Police Department, but there are not as many supporters as there were in 2006. The whispers continue as to how to save face, how to soften the landing — in other words, a golden parachute for the chief and a job well done for the 12, so that all sides look as if they are being the best they can be (just as the heads of failed financial institutions are awarded with bonuses when they leave).

Over the past several months, rumors have ranged from the chief leading other departments to becoming the chief in Bloomington (although the latter rumor is complicated by the rumor that Assistant Chief Gerlicher may be offered the Bloomington chief position).

Another rumor has the chief being offered a position at St. Thomas, with big corporate support as well as financial support from other St. Thomas supporters. The St. Thomas deal would have the chief completing his advanced degree and accepting an academic appointment, probably in the area of criminal justice, or the creation of a special chair in a related department.

This move would elevate the chief as one with an outstanding intellectual approach to policing, requiring him to write and reflect on his perceived great achievements to burnish his own personal legacy as well as that of the 12. In their minds, that's a winner that would soften the landing and allow the 12 who voted for Dolan to save face, although as many as four or five of those votes will not be standing for re-election.

The 12 and the chief want positive legacies, as does the mayor, who has high political ambitions, like becoming governor.

Other scenarios call for the current assistant chief, herself unsuccessful in applying for the job of chief of the Brooklyn Park Police Department, to also be able to save face by becoming MPD chief and, of course, make history in the process as the first female chief. She would join the 2008 historic election with Sarah Palin on the Republican ticket, Barack Obama on the Democratic ticket, and the Minneapolis glass ceiling in the police department broken by its first female chief.

What better liberal credentials for a city that failed in its attempt to appoint a female fire chief? What better way to continue and enhance the city's perceived legacy of being liberal and progressive?

And yet, what about the albatross of the chief still hanging around their necks before a soft-landing change can be arranged?

The September 18 Star Tribune (Question about pre-RNC raid raises hackles) illustrates this albatross idea as it reports the confrontation between Chief Dolan and Council Member Cam Gordon (Green Party, Second Ward). Gordon questioned Chief Dolan's attempts to stroke the city council by suggesting there were no concerns or complaints about the performance of the department during the Republican National convention and, specifically, the confrontation outside the Target Center on Wednesday, September 3. It will be interesting to see what the chief's report to the council will look like in mid-October about this well-known controversy.

That multi-headed albatross intrudes: demotion of Black officers, manipulation of personnel files, and lawsuits by Black and Hispanic officers that will cost the city millions. Stay tuned.

For greater detail on this subject, read the July 14, 2008, list of over 60 columns appearing in this newspaper that deal with the history of discrimination and its cover-up in the MPD presented to the Grand Jury and posted as Solutions Paper #31, Ending the City's and MPD's COVER-UP OF DISCRIMINATION will help to end the Discrimination in the Minneapolis Police Department).

Posted September 24, 2008 3:15 a.m.

September 17, 2008 Column #35: What did we get wrong?A response to some readers' concerns

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

The real issue is that there has never been a person of color honored as a head of the Minnesota delegation.

We welcome the two responses to two recent colums, one a commentary from the vice chair of the all-volunteer, unpaid members of the Civil Rights Commission ("Civil Rights Commission may not be perfect, but we try") and one a letter from the chair of the Minnesota DFL Party ("Edwards' critique of state DFL delegation wrong on several counts").

Commission commentary

This commentary expressed concern about our references to its lack of initiative. What is unclear is why the writer thinks the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) has done nothing in the areas he addresses.

After all, the chair of the Civil Rights Commission sits on the PCRC and holds the Hispanic chair. Despite the commission's limited statutory authority, the chair surely reported back to the commission about our efforts.

On the other hand, having attended many commission meetings, we can't recall the commission ever trying to develop a strategy to challenge the City's paid Civil Rights Department executive director, Michael Jordan. Had they done so, they would have challenged his statement that the Black police officers' complaints didn't rise to the threshold level of an Executive Director's Charge. One review of the filed lawsuit reveals that it rose way above the threshold.

The federal judge in this case once sat on the Civil Rights Commission many years ago and obviously knows this rises above the threshold. So, why did the commission allow Jordan to buffalo them?

As the writer stated, I served on the commission, including 1967-72 as vice chair and 1979-1983 as chair. The PCRC, on the community side, also consists of citizen volunteers who have undertaken this five-year fight with the City without much support from any City department or commission.

Again, why does the vice chair write about not being at the table during the quest for justice by African American and Hispanic police officers when the commission's chair is a member of the PCRC, holding the Hispanic chair? Is the vice chair saying that on no occasion did the chair share the material issues and facts with the commission members about the heroic battle being carried out by the PCRC, as well as by Hispanic and Black police officers, as discussed at PCRC meetings?

The commission has to try harder.

DFL letter

The DFL state chairman's letter suggests we were wrong on our facts. It covers up the real question at issue.

First, how is it that, in the spring of 2008, during a period of jubilation at history in the making, the state chair and others "forgot" to include Democrats of color and then had to deal with it in the July conference call of 60 concerned delegates?

Secondly, why only then were the contributions of Josie Johnson and Marlene Benjamin recognized? So again, what was it that upset the 60 that led to the conference call in the first place?

Contrary to the writer's statement, there is no standard operating procedure for selecting Minnesota delegation leaders. And so, even when belatedly recognized, why was it "honorary" status instead of equal standing with the two White standard bearers?

There is nothing limiting the number to two. The White leadership of the Minnesota Democratic Party still refuses to show appreciation for the loyal political commitment of communities of color that keeps the Democratic Party in power. They continue the White tradition of keeping people of color in their place.

And, why aren't those we wrote about writing in? The party chair did not deny Amy's action against Keith, so what is the cover-up this time?

Now, it is not our job in this column to play Bo Jangles and pave the road of democratic success for Whites only. But historic facts remain. Here are key historic facts we forget at our peril:

  1. This is the party that, in 1968, turned down the opportunity to designate Nellie Stone Johnson, cofounder of the DFL, and Cecil Newman, founder of this newspaper, to lead the delegation to the Chicago convention.
  2. The "professional" White DFL women of Minneapolis helped kick the "seamstress" DFL cofounder Nellie Stone Johnson off the national committee in 1988.
  3. There is no rule against having four co-equals head the delegation.
  4. The real issue is that there has never been a person of color honored as a head of the Minnesota delegation.

The DFL remains committed to rewarding the loyalty of people of color by keeping their place open at the back of the bus while the White leaders travel in their limousines. The White DFL leadership is as entrenched as ever, blocking equal access to Black future leadership.

And, we still haven't been told what led to that conference call of 60 concerned delegates in July. The DFL hasn't got it right where it counts.

Minneapolis taxpayers to be hit again

A bad decision by the City's strategists and technicians is about to be rewarded by being informed that its $1 million convention police overtime charge will be denied.

Adams update

Charlie Adams received a letter of apology, authorized by the MPD chief and dated August 26, 2008, for the "error" of placing two career-altering letters of reprimand in his file that were actually for a deceased Adams.

Posted September 17, 2008, 3:15 p.m.

September 10, 2008 Column #34: McCain's Vice-Presidential Surprise Should Give Democrats Pause

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

Last week, John McCain and the Republican Party caught the political world by surprise with the selection of the governor of the state of Alaska, Sarah Palin, as their vice presidential nominee.

Governor Palin's selection represents a historic challenge to the Democratic Party which, prior to 2008, had always laid claim that they and only they had entrusted a female with the number-two spot on the national ticket, when, in 1984, that ticket was led by our own Walter Mondale.

As the September 3 Star Tribune headline stated, "Fired-up Palin rocks arena, rips her foes." Make no mistake: She is truly a politician and vice presidential contender to be dealt with. She came across well. Her identification of some of the issues was sharp and had something that is rare for most Republican candidates — levity and a sense of humor. (She said the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick.)

She has, at least for the moment, rejuvenated and breathed life into a rather lethargic and dull Republican Party. We warn the Democrats and Senator Obama to be very cautious and not take lightly the governor of Alaska, as she has already rallied a significant set of voters looking for an excuse to not support and vote for Barack Obama.

Notice that we did not say the Democratic Party, but instead named a candidate of color who carries the banner of the Democratic Party. And yes, we are saying that at the end of the day, race continues to be a factor.

In fact, it can be suggested that John McCain has neutralized any enthusiastic attack-dog status coming from Hillary and Bill Clinton, as the senator from New York must now be careful how she discusses such things as experience and governance.

Although it may seem sheik to talk about a mayor of a town of 9,000 or the governor of the largest state but with a sparse population, the fact of the matter is that Governor Palin broke the glass ceiling in Alaska. She has also been labeled a maverick who has not shied away from taking on certain special interest groups, such as big gas and big oil, inside her own party.

Another fact: Former senator and actor Fred Thomson went to great lengths Monday to talk of the qualities of a commander in chief. People may laugh at Governor Palin being the commander of the Alaska National Guard, but her state is the closest in physical proximity to the big bad bear known as the Russian Federated Republic.

Certainly, in the final two days of the Republican Convention, speakers stayed away from the problems of economic downturn, joblessness, and outsourcing, which have ripped apart some segments of the American economic base. And, we hope the call to make education "the civil rights issue of this century" will hold for both parties.

But you know, my friends, in 2004 the signs were already there and in place, and although not as severe, there certainly has been a downturn. Think of it: 56 million Americans voted for George W. Bush in 2004. How fickle is the American voter?

And so the Democrats would be ill advised to ignore and dismiss this governor of Alaska as a running mate for the old guy. The polls show — and you can only put so much value on polls — that, as this column is being written, Senators Obama and McCain are tied at 42 percent apiece.

That means there is 16 percent of America's so-called electorate that is undecided — too close for comfort. It is time for the Democrats to roll up their sleeves and embark on and commit themselves to one of the most crucial presidential elections since 1932.

Even John McCain has recognized the importance of putting some separation between himself and George W. Bush. Of course, it was no accident that, in the four days leading up to the acceptance of the nomination, Republicans didn't talk about things that we think are of concern to many Americans. But then again, as an African American columnist we can only speculate about the deeply held fear within the American electorate of the possibility of the cycle of one-president-one-race finally being broken.

Only White America can speak to that fear and their intention to embrace that fear against the competing interests of the survival of the nation. We are not surprised, but we do find it rather revealing that both Republican candidates have taken up the chant, the slogan, and the challenge of "change."

John McCain may not have sounded as charismatic as his senate colleague Barack Obama, but his expression of change was greeted with as much thunderous applause as was Obama's. No one has any clue regarding how much passion will be in play November 4; but it is clear, and history will report this in time, that there are those for whom the preservation of the race is more important than the preservation of the nation.

God help us if that is what drives us and nothing else. Stay tuned.

Posted September 10, 2008, 4:50 a.m.

September 3, 2008 Column #33: The contest begins: America on the political stage. Obama in pursuit.

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

On 28 August 2008, at approximately 8:11 p.m., Mountain Daylight Savings time, Senator Barack Obama, Democrat, Illinois, walked to the podium at that mile high stadium in Denver, Colorado, and into history before a crowd estimated at 85-90,000. He accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party to be their candidate for President of the United States for the election of 2008. He received a standing ovation to thunderous applause for at least four minutes.

The world is watching closely. In fact, we here in America are watching closely to see in what direction this nation goes, and, in fact, to see if we are prepared to break the cycle of one race, one president.

Barrack Obama calls for change. On November 4, 2008, will America and its voters accept that challenge? Will America, as he asked in his acceptance speech on that historic August 28 night, be prepared to accept the change, and take a step closer to being a truer democracy, a step closer to a truer embodying of the Constitution and Bill of Rights of this nation?

Will the American voter be prepared and ready to accept that slavery has truly ended and that the great passage was truly a tragedy of immense proportions in which we now envision that the sons and daughters of the African will at long last "be made whole"? That is a legal term, my friends, etched in the canons of law, speaking to the importance of making right those wrongs of centuries past.

Obama has a vision for America and hopefully, on November 4 th , America will embrace that vision, and will embrace Barrack Obama as one of the architects of that vision. This is an important time as we look to the future of our republic. So at 8:11 pm MDT, August 28, 2008, notification was given that a true test of democracy was again to take place, and that the contest had truly been joined.

As this column appears, the Republicans will be meeting here in the Twin Cities, and all of the cast of characters will be positioned on their stage of change. It shall be historical, one way or another.

In the matter of Larry Clark.

Star Tribune headline: "Court mandates retrial in '70 slaying of St. Paul officer...the first conviction was not fair," as the Minnesota State Supreme Court, on a four to one vote, overturned the conviction of and ordered a retrial in the matter of the State of Minnesota vs. Larry Clark. Justice Alan Page issued a 19 page opinion supporting the reversal but not the order for a retrial. We have long maintained in this column the importance of justice and fairness in the matter of Larry Clark and Ronald Reed (see our 7 columns and 2 web log entries, gathered together on our web site as Solution Paper #27).

The court acted only in the matter of Larry Clark. We are saddened by that as we have always believed the same standards should be applied to Ronald Reed also, whose attorney ill served and ill advised him, whereas Larry Clark's attorneys crucially allowed the door for review and reversal to stay open. In fact, in his 19 page opinion supporting the dismissal but dissented regarding a new trial, Justice Page accurately pointed out that, based on the standard that is required under Minnesota law regarding the doctrine of co-conspirators, all charges against Mr. Clark should have been dismissed. But that is for another time and place. He and his family and attorneys recognize the importance of fighting the battle and not being overwhelmed by circumstances that seem to be beyond their control and capabilities, so maybe this time justice will be served for this African American. See "The 37 Questions" (Solution Paper #27), which we raised July 9, 2005 about the trials.

May we all watch closely.

Are Black youngsters not to show up at the Vikings?

On August 23rd , the Minnesota Vikings played an exhibition game at the Metrodome. A group of Black youngsters, members of a team called the Brooklyn Park Bulldogs, thought they were the guests of the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL.

So, in a tradition that has been in place ever since the Vikings went indoors, youngsters playing in games before or at half time, could stand along the entrance of the tunnel and exchange high fives with their Vikings heroes coming back onto the field.

To the surprise of the youngsters and their parents, friends and observers, the head of Viking Security indicated that that was a no-no, and slapped the young boys hands down while allowing white youngsters to enjoy that privilege denied the Brooklyn Park Bulldogs. The Vikings and the NFL need to take a look at this latest incident of racism coming from the Minnesota Vikings, and how they disrespect Black youngsters, causing them and their parents and friends to lose some of their respect for this once great franchise and its image.

DFLabor Day. We are minded of the many columns in which we ask why the DFL still supports excluding Blacks as contractors and laborers on city projects.

Posted 9-3-08, 2:20 a.m.

August 27, 2008 Column #32: Blacks rejected to lead state DFL delegation in Denver

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

When delegates left the Minnesota DFL (Democratic Farmer Labor Party) Convention in late Spring 2008, there was much joy and merrymaking. Many enthusiastically talked about the candidacy of Barack Obama, and Black delegates felt that at long last their time had arrived.

Even though a few housekeeping chores remained, the hierarchy of the DFL state machine slyly told the revelers to go home and enjoy the feeling, and to bring it to Denver, Colorado, for the August Democratic National Convention.

One of the "housekeeping" issues not completed by the delegates was the selection of the persons who would march at the head of the Minnesota Democratic delegation to lead them into the Denver convention hall.

So, at the end of that convention in Rochester, Minnesota, as delegates of color talked about change, the message of their champion Barack Obama, the White leadership talked about the change needed to maintain the status quo of maintaining traditional White DFL leadership.

Eventually it got out: Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak would march at the head of the Minnesota delegation. Delegates of color, particularly African American delegates, had not been consulted.

Some thought it was just an oversight that would quickly be corrected in this new era of change.

Traditionally, the delegation is led by the leading office holders. The top Democrat in Minnesota is Senator Klobuchar. Number two is U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of the Fifth Congressional District, who embodies two historic firsts: first African American congressman ever elected from the state of Minnesota, and first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

So, DFL change is change to maintain the status quo. The images that come to mind were the Democrats of old, the Jim Crow Dixiecrats, fueling the doctrine of Bilbo and the doctrine of nullification, as the Dixieguard held hard in Minnesota, moving the Mason Dixon Line to the far North.

A late July conference call of White and Black delegates revealed that this was no oversight after all. The DFL did not give ground, nor did it seek common ground. Senator Klobuchar made it clear that Congressman Keith Ellison was not the one to lead the DFL into the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

In desperation, Black delegates offered a compromise, the beloved Josie Johnson, who had rejected the forces of nullification and reversal in 1968. She was rejected, making it clear in this historic conference call of about 60 DFL leaders that the participation of any African American was unacceptable.

So, the wounds are especially deep in Minnesota, as once again a young, dynamic, first-time congressman is rejected out of hand. The message is clear: Keep your eyes on the prize all you want — it won't matter. The Minnesota version of the old doctrine of nullification and reversal states that Black Democrats from Minnesota sit in the back of any bus of change.

Imagine the sadness of the spirits of The Happy Warrior, Hubert H. Humphrey, of the great civil rights leader Nellie Stone Johnson, and of Cecil Newman, the beloved founder of this great newspaper. Their spirits weep to see yet another young Black leader designated as not worthy and not wanted as a visible leader of the DFL.

Once again, the truth of what the White leadership of the Democratic Party holds most dear remains constant: The Black vote is something to be used and manipulated to maintain White power. To maintain White power, the Black voters and their supporters must be disenfranchised.

God Bless America. Stay tuned.

Securing the Twin Cities for the GOP

As our Democratic progressives prepared to descend on Denver, Colorado, the Republican conservatives prepare to descend on the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

One of the questions quietly discussed is the safety of our beloved Twin Cities citizens during the expected massive demonstrations (planned first for Denver, then for the Twin Cities). After $50 million for security and months of planning by both cities, civilian authorities still cannot guarantee the safety of many in our neighborhoods.

In fact, some neighborhoods will receive significant delays, if not out-and-out failure, in responses to 911 calls, especially September 1-5, because, with the exception in Minneapolis of the homicide unit, all other special investigative units will be stripped of their personnel as they are ordered to put on their blues and take to the streets.

Of course, the problem is that far too many of these officers have not worked a beat, nor walked the street, nor peered into the lurking shadows for a long time.

What is heard is that this safety deficiency should not be discussed. When it is broached, a finger is held up and we are told, "Shush. Don't talk about it. Hope for the best."

In the final analysis, that is just not good enough. The citizens of our respective cities should be guaranteed quality safety 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The safety grid should not be turned off just to protect visiting big spenders. You know that right is right and wrong is wrong.

Stay tuned.

Posted, 8-27-08, 12:05 a.m.

August 20, 2008 Column #31: Flawed journalism misses MPD conspiracy against Black officers

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

The decision was made at the highest possible level in the MPD to make Black police officers an endangered species.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press , as the Star Tribune does, engaged in another mugging of journalism with the headline question above its August 13, 2008, front-page story: Does it take a criminal to catch a crooked cop? The more accurate question is: When will the White media stop substituting creative writing for fact-checked investigative reporting?

For the first time, we learn the name, Mr. Trump, of the informant the feds used to expose alleged Black corruption in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). That, along with the informant's birthday, other names he has used (Vallachi was left out), and how long his criminal record actually is (since the early 1990s not 2002), the PiPress got wrong. [8-20-08 update: PiPress writer provides update on Trump's silent criminal past in article of (8-14-08).

But the big "error" is that it was the MPD that initiated the investigation, not the feds. It was the MPD's attempt to cover up corruption of White cops they were attempting to blame on Black cops, including the officer singled out for this story, Michael Roberts.

Lots of errors are often a sign that stories are being made up. Whether these "errors" were made by the reporter or the officials interviewed, the result is the same: made up. The reporter could have avoided these errors had he taken the time to read the federal indictment handed down July 14, 2008, or took the time to read other public documents, including those of the Department of Corrections. We are sure that by the time Officer Roberts' trial begins November 3, 2008, this will all be cleared up.

Had the PiPress reporter actually investigated, he'd have discovered the truth about Mr. Trump and Officer Roberts.

In early 2007, during interrogations of Mr. Trump, sources indicate that he identified numerous African American officers as being on his corrupt list for acts including everything from cash payments to women and drugs. The only problem was — and this is contained in federal documents that have been reviewed and referred to before in this column — it was a Black female informant who had identified to federal authorities the criminal activity of White MPD police officers that was then twisted so as to attribute them to innocent Black officers.

But one of the names that never emerged from Trump/Vallachi's list was that of Officer Mike Roberts. So, why now?

According to documents, in the late spring and early summer of 2007, an informant we'll simply identify as FW was recruited by Mr. Trump, according to electronic intercepts, to seek out Officer Mike Roberts and attempt to entrap him in a criminal offense. It is this informant who is really the government's star witness, for it is he who is expected at trial to further enhance the placing of a Black face on White corruption. Will he perjure himself for his law enforcement handlers?

Why, then, does the PiPress leave so much of this information out? After all, it is well known in many circles that the federal authorities did not initiate this investigation, but rather individuals of the city's VOTF (Violent Offenders Task Force, funded by both federal and state funds) motivated by racial animus and an animus towards White Officer Lt. Michael Keefe, who stood up to their actions toward Black officers.

See our columns of August 29 (A profile in courage and integrity—the saga of Lt. Michael Keefe) and September 12, 2007 (At MPD, retaliation is the order of the day), to see why some observers are coming to understand how devious, sinister and dangerous this cover-up scenario has become.

One name they stay away from is Lt. Michael Keefe. A letter from the Minneapolis city attorney of January 9, 2008, "coincidentally" spells out almost verbatim an allegation against Lt. Keefe that is later used in the grand jury indictment against Officer Mike Roberts. That statement has to do with the leaking of confidential information detrimental in a VOTF-federal investigation.

Remember, when Lt. Keefe reported what he had discovered when he took over as commander of the VOTF unit in early 2007 — the abuse of resources and personnel and mission of the VOTF unit and its attempt to destroy African American police officers in the MPD — he was relieved of his command two days after his courageous act to discuss this with federal authorities who, instead, immediately alerted Chief Tim Dolan.

So, let us be very clear on what is being said here: Officer Mike Roberts was brought into play because of the personal animus against him as a Black, an animus he has fought for 29 some years as an outspoken advocate for Black participation in the MPD. Unfortunately for Officer Roberts, he acquired powerful enemies at court who, by 2007, had decided to do something about this Black problem.

The PiPress story just touches the tip of the iceberg of one of the worst conspiracies to confront federal and local law enforcement officers in the history of Minneapolis. Clearly, the decision was made at the highest possible level in the MPD to make Black police officers an endangered species.

Recent promotions suggesting otherwise do not change this long-term goal. Pay attention, my friends, for your right of access — and your right to know and understand — is being obstructed.

Stay tuned.

Posted, 8-20-08, 1:33 p.m.

August 13, 2008 Column #30: The art of silence, the act of cowardice

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

Too often "good citizens" sidestep issues that affect the health and welfare of the general population, because they "understand" that society really isn't for everyone, just for them. We saw it Nazi Germany in the 1930s, as those of the so-called enlightened, educated class remained silent in the presence of the Holocaust.

In Bosnia, in the 1990s, those of the progressive persuasion remained silent as hundreds of thousands of Muslims were sent to their death. Today we experience international silence about Darfur, and in Beijing this month we'll be treated to an Olympic-sized silence from the world, including from our own.

We don't have to go to Beijing for silence; we get "treated" to the art of silence right here in our own river city. Where better to hear the art of silence than in the so-called civil rights enforcement community, which consists of the city's paid professionals of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department who look the other way and the appointed, unpaid citizens of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission that passes on the other side?

They have voluntarily put on blinders in order not to "see" what's going on and justify their silence. They don't "see" anything to speak up about, which is the perfect "vision" for cowards.

In a word, this silence reflects a long tradition of public cowardice as the blinders enable them to pretend certain things do not exist. How else can they avoid the responsibility of fighting for anything other than their jobs?

And so we are no longer amazed at the continued silence of the Civil Rights Department and its continued abuse of African American police officers as it covers for the mayor, the city council, and the police department. When the City of Minneapolis torpedoed the settlement agreement with five African American police officers, you would have thought that the Civil Rights Department and its director, Michael Jordan, would have at least whimpered about what very well could be viewed as a serious setback for civil and human rights in our beloved city.

Instead, cowardly silence ruled, responsibility was sidestepped, and issues were tap-danced around as they boogie-woogied out the door scratching and bowing, silently rushing down the corridor of nullification and reversal.

Think about it: How do they sleep knowing they are purposefully silent and cowardly? When confronted with the adversity of those they swore to protect, especially those of their own race, they practice their art form of cowardly silence in order to effortlessly draw a salary and gain health and retirement benefits and the other amenities of their positions.

They continue to ignore the apocalypse that descends on those they are to protect. This requires an ability that can only be acquired by playing a role and acting out some tragic scene from Hamlet or King Lear , or just a traditional American tragedy based on race.

The thing that the Republicans will understand as they descend on our Twin Cities is that reversal and nullification based on race is alive and well with the DFL. There is no better illustration of that peculiar American tragedy than the Art of Silence and the Act of Cowardice played out by the Civil Rights Department and the Civil Rights Commission.

So the Republicans, as they arrive, will have showcased for them the successful formula of racial nullification and reversal. It is so unfortunate during this period of American patriotism that it is Black law enforcement officers who have been targeted as the victims for this final act on the great stage of a play entitled "The American Tragedy" and subtitled "The Art of Silence, The Act of Cowardice."

The disaster of Minneapolis K-12 education

On Monday of last week, the Minnesota Department of Education issued the final report card on the disastrous past academic year of pubic education institutions. 937 Minnesota public schools were listed as underachievers.

In Minneapolis, 16 schools were identified as being eligible for penalties and sanctions, including all the high schools. Under federal law, four of these schools could be placed in federal receivership.

In some European nations, a report such as the one issued last week would require the immediate resignation of the minister of education and all headmasters and principals. Yet, in the State of Minnesota there are no consequences, only victims — children.

Unfortunately, a disproportional number of these victims are children of the poor. What a dark day for public education that its false "progress" and "visionary thinking" has led to 100 percent failure in Minneapolis.

And, despite leading thinkers saying jobs of the future will require at least some college education, there are no protests in Minneapolis and no consequences for those only interested in their own protected jobs as "educators."

So, what's going on? As we have written about for years, Blacks are being forced out for City "master plans" that force the African American off his city land, demonstrating mastery over them. Like Richard Wright, we admire the wit of H.L. Mencken: "Every man must be ashamed for the government under which he lives," and we weep for his assertion that "Democracy is the pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance."

Stay tuned.

Post of 8-13-08 posted 8-14-08, 3:16 a.m.

August 6, 2008 Column #29: The death of a settlement, the shame of a city

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

"$2 million bias suit is derailed" screamed the Star Tribune headline on Thursday, July 31, 2008.

The story was a surprise to those who saw an earlier headline suggesting a historic settlement regarding the bias, racism and discrimination suit against the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) had been reached.

On July 30, U.S. Federal Court Magistrate Judge Susan Richards Nelson released a one-page notice announcing the suit had collapsed. An attorney for the five suing police officers called into question the City's good faith and sincerity during the three days of settlement negotiations.

It is clear to some observers that the City is trying to draw out information to determine their best legal strategy for beating the suit.

The article reports that the court mandated the city council vote at the July 25 closed session meeting. The council instead decided to sucker punch the court by thumbing its nose at its order and not take a vote, validating for some observers that council members don't want to give the settlement a fair chance or an opportunity to be discussed.

Now it will be discussed even more.

As early as July 17, Mayor R.T. Rybak indicated to political associates that $2 million was too much money for the African American plaintiffs, exposing a charade that will backfire.

The council also thumbed its nose at the statute prohibiting the chief of police from being at their meeting. Council Member Ralph Remington, DFL, 10th Ward, filed a protest with respect to the outrageous conduct and manipulation of the council by Police Chief Tim Dolan during the proceedings.

Again showing that the City knows no shame, the city attorney, on July 29, ordered Council Member Remington's protest email suppressed under the charade of attorney-client privilege. The council made no effort to determine who within their ranks had leaked the information to the Minneapolis Star Tribune that they derailed the settlement agreement.

The City is playing a dangerous game with the federal court. While maintaining a public face that there is no discrimination, the City was prepared to confirm it for $2 million before reversing itself, acting against fostering positive race relations, and thus choosing to allow the ugly head of nullification and reversal to be the order of the day.

In a tirade against the suit, one councilwoman indicated the City can stand the heat and they should prepare for trial, encouraging her colleagues to perjure themselves during the process of discovery and, if necessary, commit perjury at the trial in 2009. That mean-spirited mentality, racial animus, and disdain for the courts guarantees the further division of people, the heartbreak of those dreaming of equal opportunity for all, and the progressive death of a city.

Posted August 6, 2008, 8:22 a.m.

July 30, 2008, Column #28: In the matter of Charles F. Adams: The continued saga of Black officers

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

Almost sixteen years ago, an action was taken within the Minneapolis Police Dept to suspend for 20 days, Officer Charles Adams for insubordination. About a year and a half later, a second suspension for 10 days without pay was imposed again on Officer Charles Adams, again for insubordination and conduct unbecoming of a Minneapolis Police Officer.

During the term of Sharon Sayles Belton, the head of her security detail, Charles F. Adams, failed security clearance by the Secret Service on at least three occasions when she was the guest of former President Bill Clinton on return flights of Air Force One back to Washington, D.C. He never was told why. And in the late 1990s, Charles F. Adams, although number one on the Sergeant's list, was past over for promotion. Why?

In November of 2007, Charles F Adams was removed from the Homicide Unit in what has been identified as a rather celebrated conflict with his then Commander, Lt. Amelia Huffman, now recently promoted to Captain.

About three days after his removal, Don Shelby, of WCCO, Channel 4, was preparing to do an editorial on the 10 o'clock news criticizing the Minneapolis Police Department for their actions against Charles F. Adams. In the course of his investigation, Don Shelby received a telephone call from Tim Dolan, Chief of the Minneapolis Police, in which Chief Dolan said that Charles F. Adams was an "effing" liar.

And then a couple of days after that, Chief Dolan, on Jason Lewis' radio program, continued to refer to Charles F. Adams as a liar, as a man punished and disciplined for insubordination.

In a deposition in the first week of March 2008, Chief Tim Dolan, under oath, emphatically reaffirmed his statement and revealed what he claimed was the existence of documents to support his position that Charles F. Adams was an effing liar disciplined for insubordination.

Four and a half months later, the Police Federation's attorneys requested the documents under discovery, to verify that these events had taken place.

Lo and behold, when they turned over this rock, they discovered the rotting worms of a colossal defamation of Charles F. Adams' character. Two letters about two separate acts of insubordination. Suspensions of 20 days and 10 days. But not about Charles F. Adams. No. It was Charles L. Adams, a white officer, now deceased.

No one has been able to explain, since the letters were delivered a couple of weeks ago to Charles F. Adams and his attorneys, how this happened. And how is it that the second letter only appeared after WCCO had examined the personnel file of Charles F. Adams.

Of course the damage to Charles F. Adams is significant and severe. So how is it that the fact checkers at the Star Tribune continue to allow to pass these references to insubordination in two editions of their paper just last week? There are now serious concerns of how large was this very deep rooted conspiracy to seriously injure the reputation of Charles F. Adams.

The Chief, the Mayor and the department can't have it both ways. Either they knew, and continued to advance this slander of his reputation, or they can be manipulated by letters of a dead white man, Charles L. Adams, and thus should not be chief executives. They, with malice and forethought, placed them into the pubic arena. It makes one wonder what other reputations are they maliciously trying to ruin.

This all comes on the heals of revelations that there was never any evidence of wrongdoing involving Lt. Lee Edwards, who, as an outgrowth of false allegations against his person and reputation, was not only suspended with pay, but lost the chance to become the first African American Police Chief in Northfield, Minnesota. So who else?

These events raise serious questions about the intentional and calculated and malicious retaliation against African American officers, including the most recent, the leaking of information on the settlement agreement involving five African American officers now in Federal court before the honorable Chief Judge Michael Davis.

The July 24th Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that Federal Magistrate Susan Nelson has ordered the placing of a gag order, and is considering sanctions against Minneapolis City Officials. It is quite clear that they leaked the information, and in the course of that once again raised the issue of insubordination — their own — before the courts, in a situation that, had they taken the time to truly examine the so-called evidence, they might have recognized the difference between Black and White.

The Star Tribune will eventually report that on Thursday, July 24 th , city officials were required to appear before the Federal Court to discuss sanctions regarding their disclosure of confidential information. We are amazed at the position of city officials that they did not understand the requirement of confidentiality of the settlement conference. They not only violated court rules of confidentiality, they also compromised the office of the federal magistrate, Ms. Nelson. RT and the City must remember courts have long memories and see things beyond Black and white.

Posted July 21, 2008, 8:48 p.m. [July 31?]

July 23, 2008 Column #27: MPD Black officers: The mystery deepens. Upcoming trials will help illuminate the shadows.

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

After four months of ranting and raving that Lt. Lee Edwards would never return to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), the Minneapolis Star Tribune all of a sudden, on July 17, runs this headline: Suspended Minneapolis officer is back at work. The mystery continues.

In what has to be one the classic acts of political tap dancing reported by the Strib, Mayor R.T. Rybak is quoted as saying, "This is one I really can't comment on," expanding the mystery further.

Recall the summer of 2007, when the plan to purge Black officers was being put together. The mayor seemed quite comfortable then being told by his police administration that the evidence against the Black officers was irrefutable.

The latest in this attempted purge occurred last week when Officer Mike Roberts, a 29-year veteran of the department and the longest serving Black officer in its history, was indicted July 17, with his trial set for November 2008. The trial should shed light on the mystery.

At long last we will be able to hear testimony, under oath, of the discussions, meetings, and authorization to move forward with what has become one of the biggest show-trial shams against the franchise of African American police officers in the MPD.

We will have a chance to see confidential informants testify, some who will say that Black officers have been feeding them information for over 20 years. I hope they can remember the dates. In one classic 2007 interview, an informant discussed how he had gone to school with one of the Black officers he was informing on, yet named the wrong city in which they allegedly went to school together.

It is clear that Lee Edwards is the recipient of a very mean-spirited retaliation. Will he ever be made whole again, legally? Only the distance of time and the successful quest for justice will answer that question, but the damage has been done, resulting in an ever-widening rift within the department.

The rift between the Minneapolis Police Department and the Black community has also grown. It is now the size of the Mediterranean.

Is there an opportunity for healing? We're not sure. It depends on whether the many on the city council and in the mayor's office hold to their obsession of maintaining their position inside their bunker, even though they know they were clearly duped. They remind us of the 1945 fall of Berlin; some will support the tyrant until the bitter end.

Thurgood Marshall, who did so much to help end the racial separation laws of America, would ask of the mayor and the MPD: "What is the quality of your intent?"

Posted July 23, 2008, 3:40 a.m.

July 16, 2008 Column #26: Rev. Jesse Jackson: do you agree or disagree?

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

Controversy again swirls about the 2008 presidential election campaign. Last week, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, not paying attention to his microphone during a commercial break in a Fox network interview, made some uncomplimentary remarks about Barack Obama, creating quite a fuss.

Now, understand that Rev. Jackson and Senator Obama have both been operating in the same fertile political fields of Chicago for quite some time. The Rev Jackson, who had his own presidential ambitions 20 years ago, certainly feels, and rightly so, that he has paid his dues in the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement and the fights for equality and justice in America.

You, as a reader of this column, will have to be your own judge, as it should be.

But, there is a serious problem within Black America among those who feel that not enough respect and deference has been paid to those who led the civil rights struggle of the late 1950s, throughout all of the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s, when it cost to stand up.

What we tend to forget is that this is not the first such generational conflict. We've seen it before. We'll see it again as activists fight over who fought first, who brought it to the attention of America first, who is a more "authentic" activist, etc.

This has gone on since before the Civil War, and certainly in modern times. Those who were a part of the Niagara Movement of 1906, which called for change for social justice, were critical of those who came out of the Renaissance Movement of the early 1930s. These in turn were critical of the young rabble rousers of the '50s and '60s for not paying proper respect to those who were the architects of the Renaissance Movement of Harlem, New York, and Bronzeville in Chicago.

And now we see it again, as key leaders again take their eyes off the prize.

Those of the so-called "new change" order of Barack Obama inappropriately feel that the Jesse Jacksons, Jeremiah Wrights and the followers of Martin Luther King, Jr., are out of step and have become passé. They are not. They are the shoulders they stand on.

In 30 years, a new group will call the doctrine of Barack Obama and the disciples of change out of step with the demands of the year 2038.

And so we ride the historical carousel of social movements, a revolving door in an ever-rhythmic recycling of the young contesting their elders, who were once young themselves.

Did Jesse Jackson misspeak? Only Jesse knows. Was the acceptance of his apology by Senator Obama sincere? Only the senator knows.

But, it is clear that the forces of tradition have once again joined on the opposite side of the aisle from the young. Who has served the longest? Who has been the greatest? Who has brought about the most change? Who has opened the most doors? Who is the purist activist? These questions will continue as an ongoing debate within the political arena of America, particularly in Black America.

The challenge is this: Are we big enough, compassionate enough, and visionary enough to accept the role and the achievements and the failures that accompany change, and that understandably go with "I did it 30 years ago, so respect and appreciate what I did"?

Jesse Jackson's son took his dad to task. He should have just said "no comment." He should have stayed out of it. He needs a better understanding of the things his dad has done, as well as those in the Niagara Movement, the Renaissance Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Were it not for them, we would not be talking about change. Nor would we be in the position to enjoy for the first time in modern history an African American as a serious contender for the highest and most powerful office on the face of the earth.

Let us not take our eyes off the prize, nor forget those who fought for it before us. Understand the egos and their passion and be rightly proud of what they accomplished that the young have not yet accomplished. Let us keep our eye on the prize for the greater good of the race and the nation. In the final analysis, that is what it is all about.

Understanding foreign policy

The latest military maneuvers by Iran remind us to be cautious about saber rattling in the Middle East. On this issue, the two major party presidential contenders will be intensely examined.

Americans are weary of Middle East conflict. We need to resolve the Iraq question as well as understand what our policy will be regarding Iran. A misstep by either the departing Bush administration or the newly arriving administration in January 2009 could very well lead to $7-$8/gallon gasoline at the pumps, a price we can ill afford.

How the candidates handle the Middle East will influence voters as they ask which candidate is most able to lead America during the next four years.

Posted July 16, 2008, 6:15 p.m.

July 9, 2008 Column #25: In the spirit of Independence Day, let us affirm the patriotism of Barack Obama

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

"We the people" just celebrated our independence on July 4th. First and foremost among the interesting factors this election year is that America's sons and daughters continue to give their lives in wars and conflicts in foreign places far from the shores of America.

For the first time since 1780, a Presidential candidate, Illinois Senator Barach Obama, presumptive Democratic nominee, finds himself targeted with questions about his patriotism and his commitment to the ideals of America and all for which it stands.

It is clear now that Obama and his strategists recognize that politically, this is an extremely dangerous area for his candidacy.  

General Wesley Clark, retired, did not help matters a week ago when he raised questions about John McCain's qualifications to be President and Commander in chief. Clark essentially dismissed McCain's well recorded military service in the Vietnam conflict, the five years he spent as a Prisoner of War, and his later service as commander of the largest Naval squadron.

Clark stated this did not qualify McCain to be President of the United States. Once again Obama had to defend how it was said, and, once again, found it necessary to repudiate an apparent supporter.

What General Wesley Clark said was stupid.

It had no place in the presidential campaign or any aspect of debate about the credentials of either man. With friends and supporters like Wesley Clark, what do you need with enemies? This is what is so dangerous about politics. Not everyone who says they are your friend and supporter really are.

These are very fragile times in America. The previous attacks against Obama, alleging that he was a Muslim, that he supported Al Quida but didn't support Israel, that he's only been to Iraq once, that he does not have the experience and savvy to make decisions and become Commander in Chief, are examples of what he has had to respond to.

But let us be clear this corner. Barach Obama is a true American patriot. He stands for those things which many Americans have dreamt about: fairness, equal access, equal opportunity, and the acceptance and dream of a unified nation.

As we enjoy The Fourth of July, we need to again remind ourselves as Americans that not since 1780 has a candidate for presidency had his patriotism and his loyalty to the constitution of the United States questioned.

Let us hope that it is predicated on stupidity and not on mean spirited racism based on the color of Senator Obama's skin. This is not the America we all dream about, nor is it what Americans have fought and died for. Let us celebrate the independence of the United States of America. Thank you.

Posted Wednesday, July 9: 2008, 4:10 a.m.

July 2, 2008 Column #24: Minneapolis Urban League loses a significant voice of reason; Hightower's departure exacerbates the Black leadership void

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

With the departure of Clarence Hightower as executive director of the Minneapolis Urban League (MUL), an existing void is all the more pronounced among the Black leadership of Minneapolis. Clarence's voice was one of moderation. He was the man who put forward the best face of the Urban League at a time when the National Urban League was downsizing the importance of advocacy.

Clarence maintained a familiarity and knowledge of the community. That is now gone from the MUL. In fact, for the first time in 60 years, a White board member will sit as chairman of the board. This represents a reversal of a 60-year doctrine that talked about the importance of Blacks being able to articulate and represent the interests of their race.

There is no explanation at this hour as to why it has been determined that no talented African Americans are currently in position to lead the MUL board. We recognize that there has been significant slippage within the Black leadership consortium, but we assumed that leadership was being developed within the organization in order to continue a 60-year legacy.

Prior to about 60 years ago (in Minneapolis), there was an unfortunate albatross that hung from the neck of the Urban League movement: Board presidents and board treasurers had to be of the Caucasian persuasion because it was believed that Blacks couldn't run a meeting nor handle finances.

We were present on the floors of the national delegate assemblies in the 1970s and 1980s when change was brought about, when we finally agreed to agree that Black folks could run a meeting and handle finances. I now shudder to think that Black leadership has so regressed on the Minneapolis scene that we are back to the 1920s and 1930s with some of our organizations at a time when is crucial to know and understand what is being said and what is happening.

What has happened to our African American leadership? What has it become? How is it that we have seemingly changed and not prepared ourselves for full citizenship so that we must once again move to the back of the bus?

Now, this is confusing in Election Year 2008, when we are told that change is a'coming, and yet here on the plains of liberalism we have taken a giant step backwards. I know there is an explanation.

I know that as we face the problems of the Black community (education, jobs, economic development, housing, crime, public safety, poverty), there must be an explanation. How will these problems be approached by those who have no idea of the battles and the struggles that are being fought?

This is what we mean when we talk about the loss of direction on issues facing the African American community. Let us prepare for both the best and the worst, and let us give you a specific example of what we are talking about.

The departure of James Patterson as chief compliance officer for the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department is another illustration of what happens when a Black man courageously takes a stand. Mr. Patterson made the "mistake" a little over a month ago of giving the right figures and information to the baseball authority on the deplorable lack of Blacks working on the Twins stadium.

As an outgrowth of his "misstep," Mr. Patterson's probation was extended. Then he was given seven days' notice and removed from his position.

The problem is that a decade ago, civil rights organizations would have raised questions, expressed concern, and if necessary, taken to the streets. But that was then. This is now.

The civil rights organizations turned their backs. They have "matured" into the establishment. They no longer have much interest and concern with the hardships that are impacting their traditional constituency. In fact, I doubt if most of the leaders and their organizations could even identify that constituency, as they are more committed to getting to the next banquet or having drinks at J.D. Hoyt's.

Consequently, James Paterson can be eliminated. The next person will have gotten the message loud and clear: Do not rock the boat, and do not call attention to discrimination if you want to keep your job. The "best" behavior is that of silence and neglect.

This silence, this abandoning of the Black constituency, is like the elephant that is in the living room. That elephant represents the betrayal and the acts of treason of the franchise of the African American constituency.

Be clear, my friends, that nullification and reversal are the order of the day in Minneapolis. Clarence Hightower in his way, and James Paterson in his, became casualties of the war being mounted against the African American community.

We ask of Black leadership Thurgood Marshall's question: "What is the quality of your intent?" As Marshall continued, "Intent will be evident in the results." By continuing to ignore, by continuing to close our eyes and our ears, our children and their children will be the victims of very mean-spirited public policy that talks in terms of maintaining a 21 st -century version of a plantation climate.

Stay tuned.

Posted July 4, 2008, 10:33 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

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.

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