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2009 Columns
Quarter 1: January thru March ~ Columns #1 - #12

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March 25, 2009 Column #12: Attempt to discredit Blacks for White MPD misdeeds has failed. Upcoming corruption trial of the century will expose the farce.

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

A year ago, federal and state authorities and the Minneapolis Star Tribune believed they could get away with concocting a story of significant corruption of Black police officers.

Leaks created buzz about wire taps, secret videos, and information from a confidential informant, the legendary Vallachi, that such criminal activity had gone on for over 20 years. The result: to cast in cement the case of Black Minneapolis police officer corruption, as reported by both the feds and the Star Tribune .

When the Star Tribune broke the story April 9, 2008, two African American officers were relieved of duty, and a third was essentially put on internal relief of duty to make it appear that the Police Community Relations Council did not know what it was talking about when it stated that three officers were so relieved.

Sources inside city government were saying that the only reason the Mill City Five had filed a civil rights lawsuit in the federal court on Dec. 3, 2007, was to hide their criminal complicity. The city attorney's office and federal prosecutors were all saying that over half of the Minneapolis African American police officers would be indicted and stripped of their law enforcement credentials.

Yet by mid - July of 2008, a f ederal grand jury returned only one count of criminal activity against just one Black officer, Mike Roberts, a 28 - year veteran. The lie was then given that this one officer was just the tip of the iceberg.

The suspended Lt. Lee Edward was returned to duty, promoted to c ommander of the training position, and then suspended for 15 days when the announcement was made that B lack corruption had been broken wide open. The report on Edwards by Internal Affairs contained nothing new. It was used to continue the whispering campaign.

As Shakespeare famously wrote, ''Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.'' The City wove half truths, lies, and lies of omission to deceive the public and discredit the Black police officers.

Then, around the time of the November 2008 election, the MPD and members of the city council were indicating the existence of a highly incriminating Internal Affairs investigation report. However, the report contained only old, sparse information from before July 2008.

We now approach the anniversary of the events and the announcement of November 2008, with Officer Mike Roberts slated to stand trial on the fifth of May. We assume that as the City attempts to play out this Alfred Hitchcock drama, the entire public will see it for what it is: a farce.

Sadly, there will be Whites disappointed that there will be no disgrace of the Black police officer corps due to corruption. All that remains is the continuation of one of the great injustices of modern times in Minnesota law enforcement, the attempt to place a Black face on the reality of White corruption.

To their credit, the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission offered a resolution calling for an investigation and possible sanctions against White officer members of organizations and motorcycle gangs displaying in pictures and a website their neo-Nazi activity inside the Minneapolis Police Department. This activity has done much to polarize race relations and increase the dangerous storm clouds of racism and the nullification of city government.

When the existence of neo-Nazi activity was brought to the attention of the Civil Rights Department, its director, Mike Jordan, and the office of the mayor engaged in the worst of Minneapolis traditions: cover-up. It was not until a year later when the White newspaper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press , wrote about it that the falseness of the story attained credibility, a falseness this newspaper, the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder , had long before brought to the attention of the city and the world only to have it ignored.

In the best tradition of rejectionism, the White Star Tribune and the White city government covered up the truth. So thank you, Pioneer Press , for pulling the covers off the Star Tribune and the City of Minneapolis.

This has been but one more attempt to destroy the dignity and rich history of African American officers in the Minneapolis Police Department. To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., I cannot be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the truth, for silence in times like ours is betrayal.

There is an interesting spring and summer ahead of us as we move toward the elections of November 2009. Who will prevail, the Hubert Humphrey Whites or the MPD White supremacy Whites? We will see in the elections if the city has any capacity to redeem itself from its shame.

Stay tuned.

Posted March 25, 2009

March 18, 2009 Column #11: B. Todd Jones is an excellent nominee for U.S. attorney

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

His appointment could cause nervousness in some quarters of City government

The senior senator from Minnesota, and our only certified senator, Amy Klobuchar, appointed a special panel to advise her on who to recommend as the next U.S. attorney for the Federal District of Minnesota. The panel recommended former U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.

She accepted their recommendation. Few bet or guessed she would do so. Nonetheless, he is an excellent choice to be the state’s chief federal prosecutor.

In May 1998, B. Todd Jones became the first African American to be appointed U.S. attorney for the Federal District of Minnesota. He served with distinction until January 2001. He brings impeccable credentials and reputation to his nomination for the position.

Minnesota Law & Politics named him as one of the “Super Lawyers” in 2006 and 2007. He serves on the board of directors of the University of Minnesota Foundation. His past service includes the St. Thomas University Law School Board of Governors and the Catholic Charities of Minneapolis and St. Paul Board of Directors. United States Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist commended him for his 2003 work for the Federal Judiciary.

Thus, there is probably some nervousness in some quarters of local government. By the time his appointment is confirmed, we’ll probably be a couple of months away from the beginning of the trial involving the Mill City Five: five high-ranking police officers suing the Minneapolis Police Department and City for racial bias and discrimination, irrespective of Judge Dan “I have to send a message” Mabley’s vendetta against Carl Eller.

By then, there may also be another trial, this one involving what Chief Tim Dolan, the assistant U.S. attorneys, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in April of 2008 as one the most significant examinations of the corruption of Minneapolis police officers.

Let’s review: In late 2006, the Star Tribune reported and documented, from what was brought forward under discovery, a number of secretive, high-level meetings about the largest police corruption investigation in the history of Minnesota law enforcement. By January 2007, police had developed the super-confidential informant known as Vallachi to help them put together this corruption case.

By the eighth of April 2008, a special task force of local and federal officers was poised to make their move, and they did. Three African American police officers (one patrolman, one sergeant, and one former inspector of police) were confronted, according to the Star Tribune, with overwhelming evidence of criminal and corrupt activities.

But when the smoke had cleared, only a solitary officer stood before the bar: 28-year veteran Michael Roberts.

The Star Tribune had leaked information that they were about to go with an award-winning investigative report on Black police corruption. That never materialized. Some have speculated that some federal law enforcement agents, acting independently and, in some cases, without their own supervisors’ knowledge, joined forces with Minneapolis police officers attached to the VOTF (Violent Offenders Task Force) unit in pursuing this witch hunt.

The nervousness we talk about has to do with any inquiry that would be initiated by D. Todd Jones, as U.S. attorney, about the ethical protocol of the investigation being above reproach. As a former Marine Corp prosecutor, Mr.

Jones has a fine reputation for going by the book and being a straight arrow.

This leads us to assume, if the appropriate questions are asked, that assistant

U.S. attorneys and local and federal agents will have the right answers, as there continue to be disturbances regarding the recruitment of Vallachi, the indictment of Roberts, the suggestion of Black corruption done with malice and forethought, none meriting the events that took place.

So, in some regards, maybe African Americans will find that they have a friend, even though he goes by the book, irrespective of race, creed, color or national origin.

The allegation that significant overtime was involved in the investigation of the Black officers may be an interesting question in which there would be significant difficulty in satisfying the ethical demands of U.S. Attorney Jones.

In fact, in September 2008, acting on a warning from a Star Tribune reporter against the interests of his own colleagues, City officials then began to shred financial records pertaining to overtime of White officers.

That in itself should have been a red flag suggesting malice aforethought in this investigation since day one. Yes, there certainly has to be some nervousness in some quarters. Stay tuned.

Posted 3-18-09, 11:59 p.m.

March 11, 2009 Column #10: Why not axe the whole Mpls Civil Rights Department? That would at least openly acknowledge its current impotence.

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

In the last 10 days, controversy has emerged surrounding the decision by Mayor R.T. Rybak to transfer the investigative authority of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to the Minnesota State Human Rights Department. In fact, in a number of interviews, the mayor says he is merely responding to Republican Governor Tim Palenty's concern that there is too much duplication in the Minneapolis civil rights arena.

Duplication? Really?

Longtime readers of this column will remember that, nearly two years ago, we wrote that the mayor was considering such a move as early as 2007, to be effective January 1, 2011. The mayor and Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan now indicate that the City will save $180,000.

In a $2.9 million departmental budget, is that all? That reveals why so few complaint investigations have been dealt with. (Over 500 cases are pending or ignored.)

That still leaves $2,720,000 for the other two tasks of the department: Civilian Review Authority and Contract Compliance. Just what do they do with those millions in the department?

Here is an example of the corruption of the process. In a letter to the city council dated February 23, 2009, Mr. Jordan spells out to the Health, Energy and Environmental Committee that the department's 2008 activities in contract compliance have been a huge success. Really?

The numbers have not been audited. They mask the true level of disparity within the City for contract opportunities. In fact, the last time a compliance disparity study was done was 1996.

Given our tracking of the consistent failure of contract compliance (the long-term purposeful failure in contract compliance is documented in the 10 columns going back to 2005 listed in our February 18, 2009, column), why does the mayor, DFL, and so-called Black leadership think the African American community is not aware that they have purposefully diverted contracts and employment on projects worth billions of dollars?

Just as troubling is the continuing misrepresentation that the safety net is in place. Michael Jordan's letter misleadingly states, "starting December 2008, we have started the process of implementing Section 3 of the federal Housing and Urban Development Act." Well, my friends, this is not a truthful statement.

In reality, there is no plan and thus no functional implementation of one. The city council and mayor, as well as too many so-called Black leaders, are perfectly happy to look the other way to allow the diversion of millions of dollars for small and underutilized businesses away from the African American community.

Another falsehood: As the State of Minnesota Department of Human Rights also does compliance, there is duplication. But when the question was asked about the awful performance of MnDOT and other state agencies, this journalist was told that I had to "stop mixing apples and oranges," because as long as millions of dollars worth of projects are initiated with "good faith" efforts to employ/contract African Americans, the claim alone allows compliance statues to be winked at and easily broken.

Now that, my friends, is a legal doctrine that existed in this country during the time of the Black Codes, when Black folks worked for free, or, if there was work for which compensation would be paid, Blacks did not need to apply.

If, in fact, the Minneapolis City Council decides to approve the elimination of the investigative unit, why not go for saving the whole $2.9 million by eliminating the entire department with its lucrative salaries, and just indicate to the Black community that there will be no lucrative return of our trust in good and fair government?

We urge people to review the figures presented to the council in the February 23, 2009, letter from Mr. Jordan, especially Appendix F, "Projects Missing Goals: Compliance Summary," especially the box reporting the number of previous non-compliance incidents over the past five years.

Ask yourselves this: Why do some companies have up to 18 violations in the past five years, and yet there is no request to disbar these companies receiving millions of federal and state taxpayer dollars without consequences for their transgressions and continued violation of the law?

Given the economic situation in America and in our city, shutting off the African American community from its right to contract compliance financial opportunities indicates how the theme of change continues to fail to reach Minneapolis. Go back and take a look behind the totally and absolutely invalid numbers to see that there is no duplication of services.

Stay tuned.

Posted March 11, 2009, 6:20 a.m.

March 4, 2009 Column #9: So much for free speech, so much for the mercy of the court: Carl Eller denied justice, dignity

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

Why can't District Judge Dan Mabley follow Abraham Lincoln's "With malice toward none, with charity for all"? Isn't the law to protect the innocent and punish the guilty? Are not judges to be for justice and not malice? And yet the Star Tribune headlined Tuesday, 2-24-09, To send a message, judge locks up Eller: "I have to send a message" to Carl Eller; "The best way I can to that is to take him into custody."

Judge Mabley said it was because he did not find Carl Eller's alleged assertion credible that "the court and police [are] corrupt, racist and biased." Hence the Star Tribune sub-headline: "Amid pleas by his mom and lawyers, the ex-Viking was taken in handcuffs to serve a 60-day sentence in the workhouse."

"By their actions ye shall know them." It is OK not to like what others say.

What is not OK is to punish and not defend constitutionally protected free speech. That's corrupt. When Judge Mabley adds to the overrepresented number of Blacks in prison, he exhibits racism (unless he also puts Whites in jail to send a message). Denying Carl Eller 24 hours to put his affairs in order, to make sure his mother would be cared for, sending him directly from court to jail, bares his fangs of bias for all to see.

When a Judge brings ol' Miss up the Mississippi to Minnesota, and when the police try to hide the video evidence showing the police provoking the attack on Carl Eller (and giving a private contractor only a slap on the wrist for putting it up on YouTube), that is a corruption of the process, a corruption of justice, all flowing from a negative view of Carl Eller's race.

Newspapers like the Star Tribune claim to be the keeper of the flame of free speech. So why didn't it condemn the judge for punishing Carl's exercise of his free speech?

Clearly Judge Mabley has violated serious canons of law, poisoning the well for Mr. Eller regarding his receiving a fair trail and proper constitutional consideration in his federal case. Judge Mabley is an experienced jurist with obvious and significant understanding of the canons of law. Yet he turned his back on them in Carl Eller's case, unheard of except in cases of bias and corruption, as he rendered an opinion on a legal matter before another court not under his jurisdiction.

Judge Mabley has to know that Carl Eller filed a suit in federal court. One can only conclude that Judge Dan Mabley intentionally attempted to poison the well of justice with malice aforethought.

The Star Tribune and court transcripts show Judge Mabley's malice aforethought as he went against the request of the assistant County attorney prosecuting the case that Mr. Eller not be jailed. In fact, it is obvious that Judge Mabley enjoyed the anguish, the shock, and the hurt that his bullying caused Mr. Eller's mother, who was present in the courtroom and who had assumed that the prosecutor understood the importance of allowing her son to maintain his dignity and to be able to make arrangements for her care while he was in the workhouse.

That Judge Mabley's refusal of her and the attorney's request is a clear sign of the judge interfering at the highest possible level and circumventing the recommendation of one of the County's own prosecutors. In fact, the conduct of Judge Mabley fortifies the issues of malice aforethought based on race and parallels the protection of corrupt acts and actions by other government institutions and agencies. How the federal court will rule on this intentional interference carried out with malice aforethought only time will tell.

Make no mistake: It is clear that the constitutional rights of Carl Eller have been violated. And by extension, it is also clear that Judge Mabley is also ruling against the African American community in an overwhelming and suffocating manner.

We appeal in this corner, in this column, for constitutional rights, including freedom of speech, to be protected if we are to have justice in our community.

Sanctions need to be implemented against those that would assert, with malice aforethought, the violation of the constitutional rights of a people and a human being, that it could so callously strip this man, his mother, and, by extension, strip the Black community of a little more of its dignity.

It is truly a dark day in the annals of Minnesota justice and its judiciary system. God save this great state.

Posted Wednesday, 3-4-09, 4:46 a.m.

February 25, 2009 Column #8: With stimulus funds coming, where's the plan for inclusion?

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

On February 17, President Obama signed into law the Peoples' Stimulus Bill. Wall Streeters had gotten theirs. The president decided it is important to enable everyday Americans to get back on their feet also.

The money allocated to the states will flow to the county and municipal governments and into the lives of hard-hit Americans. We hope the White House estimate of getting 75 percent of the stimulus out in 2009 is correct, and not the Congressional Budget Office's projected 15 percent.

This week, as last week and in nine previous columns since 2005, we again ask: "Where is the plan? Who has been entrusted with the plan? And who will enforce the plan?"

We know that any real plan must include participation of the communities of color with money for people and jobs, not bureaucrats of government agencies and nonprofit organizations. The Native American community has been in the forefront of accomplishing economic stimulus. Theirs is a working model based on sovereignty and success.

In a meeting hosted by the Native American community on Tuesday, February 17, in which close to 300 citizens (Native Americans, Blacks, Whites) participated in a town hall meeting, it was clear that the Native American OIC (Opportunities Industrialization Center) had a plan in place and were asking for accountability from elected and appointed government officials.

In fact, what we have is the history of failure of plans to enforce participation by the communities of color on, for example, the two major sports stadiums, the North Corridor light rail, and the failure of inclusion on other public works projects, both private and public (despite claims of Black "leadership" of jobs).

This has been covered up by the falsification of the numbers and by Minneapolis enforcement agency leadership spending too much time playing on their computers or not showing up for work. We see no enforcement plan for seeing that jobs and money go to the people.

Last week, we encouraged the community to ask their city and state representatives to show their plans in writing, and to see the monitoring details, and to see the details for implementing fast sanctions when there is noncompliance so that compliance is not delayed until the project is completed.

Enforcement has not been forthcoming from the state, from Hennepin or Ramsey counties, nor from the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. What is there to enable us to believe it will happen now?

Where are the sanctions, with teeth, for those who leave out (discriminate against) the African American community? We do not speak lightly or carelessly when we point out the reputation of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department -- they are more interested in computer sports games at work when they bother to come to work. The obvious current examples of great failures of compliance and lack of subsequent sanctions are the two large sports arenas and the North corridor light rail line, all being constructed with almost zero participation from African Americans at any level.

We challenge and call upon the Minneapolis City Council to hold a public hearing and to require all of the enforcement principals to come forward and to give testimony bimonthly, under oath, in order to answer the tough questions regarding validating claimed compliance.

As the stimulus trickle-down starts to arrive by late summer, follow the money to see why the African American community will be standing on the outside looking in, with the only sanctions to be discussed being those sending more Black folks to prison.

Any real plan calls for jobs for people. Any plan that is for Black "leaders" of Black organizations pretending they are preparing Blacks for jobs is truly a recipe for the extinction of a proud people. Too many forget again that allowing the same old folks to do their same old "thing" again and expecting a different result is insane. Stay tuned.

Purge of Black principals in MPS

In next week's column, we will look at the purging by Black administrators of Black principals in the Minneapolis Public Schools, as we follow significant education money. The purge is creating horrifying conditions for Black educators, and yet there is no one to protect them.

There is nothing but the shame of Black "educators" "executing" their own people. They have no problem with the demise of their own as long as they get theirs, so it's up to the community and courts to ultimately decide. And don't forget: None of this could occur without the White establishment's blessing.

Posted 2-25-09, 11:59 a.m.

February 18, 2009 Column #7: Where's the plan to ensure Blacks benefit from economic stimulus? Now's the time to ask your representatives.

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

During the best of economic times in America, affirmative action and diversity on behalf of and in support of African American inclusion has always been a tough sell.

In the last 12 months, 4.1 million jobs have been lost at the rate 683,000 per month for the last three months, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Statistics. With White America now experiencing the kind of economic disaster not unknown to the African American, we fear that the so-called concern for African American economic opportunity will disappear as the stimulus tilts the scales of justice to White America and evaporate as quickly as did the $800 billion stimulus program for America's banks.

A major reason: Black leaders in America today still don't have a plan.

We have long raised the question of preparation and anticipation by African American leadership regarding present and future times of economic difficulties and hard times. The City of Minneapolis and the counties of Ramsey and Hennepin, along with the State of Minnesota, have been, at best, lukewarm to the enforcement of affirmative action laws.

In fact, you have not seen any new affirmative action legislation in those counties nor in the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for almost a decade.

In the last six months, the Rybak administration, through the city's Civil Rights Department and the economic development agencies, have done nothing regarding set-aside programs or compliance in meeting set-aside goals, let alone meaningful jobs under affirmative action. In fact, the falsification of affirmative action numbers on two of the largest public works projects in Minnesota -- the two sports facilities, the U of M football stadium and the Twins baseball stadium -- have bordered on the criminal.

African American leadership is in economic disarray. Obstructionists of affirmative action and diversity have already anticipated that there will be no protests, and so they don't hide their kicking affirmative action out the door.

By the summer of this year, as some of the federal stimulus money for massive public works projects trickles down, there will already be in place a gentlemen's agreement that affirmative action set-aside programs and other statutory authority will not be a part of the package, starting with bids and designations of building entities by construction companies.

Clearly, enforcement authorities will sound no alert nor insist upon meaningful inclusion of communities of color, and specifically the African American community. If you doubt this, test it yourself: Ask your elected and appointed government authorities what their plan is to guarantee full and meaningful participation by African American applicants.

There is no plan. African Americans will find themselves on the outside looking in. Nonetheless, we still encourage you, as readers of this column, to ask the important questions.

Often missed are community benefit agreements, which we discussed two years ago in this column. Ask about these agreements. Ask about plans. And in the upcoming election year in Minneapolis, ask that their answers be revealed publicly and in writing.

In that way, we will guarantee that affirmative action and, by extension, civil rights in Minnesota and across the nation will not fall victim to a final death notice.

What we see happening is the City paying more attention to process than to results, to filling out their forms and filing their papers, but without new jobs offered, especially for African Americans. We must rise above process and emphasize results: jobs. It is not enough to set goals. They must be reached.

Why are there no African Americans on construction sites? The phony training programs gave the appearance of jobs when there were none. When will Minneapolis finally respond positively to the columns we have written? (all before January 20, 2009):

Stay tuned.

Posted February 20, 2009, 11:57 pm.

February 11, 2009 Column #6: Star Tribune continues to carry water for City, MPD

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

We are calling January 31, 2009, a Black Saturday in recognition of another example of the Star Tribune failing journalistic ethics in reporting the Taser death of Quincy Smith. The press, long considered the critically important "fourth estate" watchdog over the powerful, has become the fourth curse, since rather than question public officials, they too often deify them.

Where is the report based on the Star Tribune 's year-long investigation of discriminatory action against Black police officers? Just as the police beat up Carl Eller, Lee Edwards and Quincy Smith, so too did the Star Tribune abuse them by either leaving out the truth or twisting it.

What is amazing is the amount of information Star Tribune writers had that was initially withheld from both defendants and victims, as well as not reported to the newspaper's readers.

In the case of Carl Eller, the Star Tribune didn't mention the copies it has of video taken off Tasers. These are the same detailed videos that "did not exist" in the first week of December 2008.

The videos show Mr. Eller in handcuffs after being Tasered and beaten by police. The videos never show Mr. Eller receiving medical attention after being Tasered, even though medical attention is legal protocol by Minnesota statute.

In the case of Lee Edwards, the Star Tribune has had information about his suspension without pay, access to transcripts of his alleged telephone conversations with the informant Vallacci, and the results of the Internal Affairs investigation that had been completed in the summer of 2008, which recommended he be suspended without pay and possibly terminated. This information was not revealed to Lt. Edwards' attorneys.

Also left out of the story of January 31 was the confirmation that Lt. Edwards did not take a $5,000 bribe from the informant known as Vallachi (see our column of 8-20-08), yet sources within the police department, over the last several months, have continued to feed such false bribe information to their "journalist" friends.

In the case of Quincy Smith, the Star Tribune has copies of the 911 call that the Quincy Smith family had been told would not be made available until after a presentation to a County grand jury, and a decision to prosecute or not prosecute the five Minneapolis Police Officers involved in the death of Mr. Smith. They still wait.

The Smith family waited patiently for over a month and a half for information that the statute allows them to see. The Star Tribune had already previously reported that Mr. Smith had been out of jail for about nine hours prior to his death, as an outgrowth of a domestic confrontation. But in highlighting the 911conversations, the Star Tribune left that out.

So which is it? In their article of December 10, 2008, they had reported that a Minneapolis police officer had indicated that he had seen Mr. Smith with a rifle six minutes before he was reengaged and died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

What is also troubling about that omission is that in another story in that same paper dated January 30, the reporter who wrote the story about the death of Quincy Smith, Cory Pabst, was removed from the Quincy Smith assignment. The story was reassigned to reporters who are clearly sympathetic to the position of the MPD and the City, regardless of who the police kill and regardless of what the City officials condone.

As of the writing of this column (February 4), the Smiths had still not met with criminal investigators from the homicide unit nor been given specific details of their investigation. In a meeting on the fourth of February attended by the lead prosecutor, the lead detective, and Dr. Baker, the medical examiner, Ms. Smith was asked what she knew about the circumstances leading to the tragic death of her son. That, at best, is illegal, inappropriate and unethical in a homicide of a capital crime certified by the State of Minnesota.

Yet, on the January 31 Black Friday, in the cases of Eller, Edwards and Smith, the Star Tribune continued to carry water for the City.

Will the truth ever be known? Probably, at some point in time in history.

Even as we go to press, we learn that a young African American has been shot and killed by three police officers in the vicinity of Morgan and Golden Valley Road after a so-called traffic stop. Stay tuned.

Posted February 20, 2009, 11:57 p.m.

February 4, 2009 Column #5: Homicide of Quincy Smith warrants federal inquiry

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

"Minneapolis death after police Taser incident is ruled a homicide" reported the Star Tribune on January 29. This was the notice Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker sent to the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) on January 28 of his findings in the death of Quincy Smith (see our column of December 17, 2008).

The Star Tribune reports Dr. Baker as saying, "In the medical examiner world, it [the use of the term "homicide"] simply means that other people were involved in the individual's death. It doesn't imply that it was murder or malfeasance or acting outside the scope of professional conduct."

As we all know, that is up to a jury to decide.

Even though he gave the MPD the report in the morning, by 1 pm that afternoon the Star Tribune had received a leaked copy of the coroner's determination of death by homicide. Yet, as late as 7 pm that evening, the family of Quincy Smith still hadn't been notified of the official findings.

That itself raises serious questions of ethical impropriety and a violation of Minnesota law.

In the January 29 Star Tribune story, Ms. Smith, Quincy Smith's mother, raised a rather interesting question abut the rifle that was identified as having been in the possession of Mr. Smith yet was not found until 16 hours later.

And why, at the same time, did five officers Taser a man laying in electricity-conducting snow?

The Star Tribune story failed to report that the only officer who said that Mr. Smith had a rifle was the same officer involved in the Tasering of Mr. Smith in mid-town Minneapolis in mid-2006. Nor did it report that Mr. Smith's lawsuit in the Minnesota Court of Appeals regarding his 2006 Tasering and beating for jaywalking was removed from the court calendar as a result of his untimely death.

The benefits to the police and city are clear: no lawsuit, no damages.

Dr. Baker carried out his responsibility by making his ruling based on the circumstances and the injuries suffered by Mr. Smith. It is rare that such a report of homicide is made without the adjective "justifiable."

As the extent of his injuries were consistent with those of a brutal beating (one eyeball knocked out, head dented), the question arises: Did the Tasering of Mr. Smith on December 9, 2008, come first, before he was beaten up, or the reverse -- was he beaten up and then Tasered? Regardless, why both?

The rifle is another part of this puzzling scenario. The family was told the history of the rifle could be determined in a few days. Yet now, over five weeks later, it still has not been done. The family has indicated that they will be asking for a federal investigation and appointment of a special prosecutor and for a formal presentation to a federal grand jury.

There are strong suspicions that federal authorities are not enthusiastic in pursuing this case. But, with a changing U.S. Department of Justice with new faces and new philosophies, and with the appointment of a new U.S. attorney for the federal district of Minnesota in the coming months, maybe there will be a better commitment in the matter of justice in the homicide of Quincy Smith.

Tension is high in the cities, a clear signal of concern about the need for justice. Stay tuned.

The departure of a champion

With the announcement of the departure of Tenth Ward Minneapolis City Council Member Ralph Remington at the end of his term in December 2009, the possibility arises of a strong and very White-complexioned city council in 2010 and beyond.

Remington has truly been a giant. He has not been bashful in facing the issues and speaking to the issues that affect African Americans and others in this city, although he comes from a ward that is nearly 80 percent White.

It will be a sad occasion upon his departure, because there is no one on the horizon to indicate the arrival of a new champion for African American citizens in this city. And that is dangerous for a city that is more diverse now than ever before and yet more segregated, more repressive, and more divisive in its political relationships and its relationship with people of color.

That, unfortunately, is the legacy of this city's government, but it is what allowed Mr. Remington to be recognized as a champion of those who seek out representation and consideration.

Posted February 20, 2009, 11:57 p.m.

January 28, 2009 Column #4: The task begins: the Presidency of Barack Obama

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

High noon. January 20, 2009. Per the constitution, Barack Obama became the 44 th President of the United States, followed later by his swearing in, followed the next day by the Chief Justice coming to the White Office to correctly administer the oath he flubbed the day before, now using the specific words ordered by the Constitution, an indication of the sharpness and focus of our new President.

As I watched the Inauguration ceremony, I thought of those of Minnesota that long ago championed the ideas, causes and battles that led to the presidency of Barack Obama. I think of the stories that I used to hear of how Cecil Newman and Nellie Stone Johnson worked closely with the legendary Charles L. Horn, a wealthy Minnesota white man who understood and supported vigorously the efforts and dreams of the Negro of their day, with his time, energy, and money

I can well remember the coordination and energy provided by Cecil Newman, Nellie Stone Johnson, Father Denzel Carty of St Paul, Dr Thomas Johnson, and the legendary Frank Alsop, as Black Minnesotans prepared for the March on Washington in August 1963. I can remember a young and dynamic Josie Johnson as one of the bright young planners and organizers. That group was able to attend that historic event because of financial support provided by Charlie Horn and others of the progressive community, including paying for the chartering of a plane to take them to Washington, D.C. and back.

That kind of effort is consistent with what we recognize as the challenge that has been presented to the nation by President Barack Obama, who is reaching out, forming coalitions, identifying issues and purpose, stating clearly that it isn't about "me" but that it is about "the people", about the future, the children, the rekindling of enthusiasm, the sense of purpose, and about commitment to achievement, all so forcefully advanced by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the disciples of the Civil Rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s.

But it is important to realize and remember the Minnesota legends and giants before them, who put in place the civil rights foundations of the 1920s and 1930s. We cannot forget a young Roy Wilkens and Halle Q. Brown, and the hundreds of the Negro community attending meetings to shape an agenda for the future of the Negro.

Indeed, it was in addressing those challenges that allowed the founding publisher of this paper, Cecil Newman, to take on the challenge offered by Charlie Horn to become personnel director at Horn's munitions plant in New Brighton, Mn, which led to Cecil being able to open this paper's doors in early 1942, helping the Negro community forge a dream, making possible jobs until then held to be inaccessible.

This is the kind of planning and strategy President Barack Obama calls upon us to provide as part of the new engagement. Rest assured my friends, that in the coming days and weeks and months and years, we will meet the challenge of revitalizing America. It is important that Black America be ready, prepared and in place to participate in this revitalization, that there shall be no obstruction of the opportunities for our young people to participate and embrace the fruits of success in meeting and speeding the successful challenge of reinvigorating and revitalizing America.

This is what was put in place long ago by Minnesota Black and white advocates of civil rights, whose names may be forgotten or erased, but whose spirits are what we stand on, regardless of whether their individual legacies are spoken of or whether or not they are referred to with respect. When people do not remember their history or do not have knowledge of their past, it is harder to understanding the present, putting their future in peril.

We must not fail those coming after us for whom we prepare the future. The price of forgetting the past is a failure too high: the future. Our youth have a right to expect more. It is our obligation to create excellence, to nurture, as DuBois put it, our own talented as well. The history of the American of African descent is rich in the history of personal, professional, and community success.

We have fought valiant battles and we have given hope and inspiration to others. This is clearly the legacy and the challenge that President Barack Obama offers all of us, throughout America, the free world, and those unfree yearning to be free. God bless this presidency.

Posted February 20, 2009, 11:57 pm

January 21, 2009 Column #3: Is the MPD in service to a parallel government?

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

On January 11, 2008, the St. Paul Pioneer Press posted two articles laying out the State of the Police in Minneapolis (Thin blue line appears blurred in biker clubs and Rubén Rosario: Cop's off-duty club questioned in lawsuit). This belatedly follows our own investigative report in our column of February 27 2008 (City ignores signs of extremist danger and our column last week (No Black face on White corruption means no investigation. Strib's treatment of the MPD shows loss of journalistic integrity, written January 7th, posted January 14th).

When will the Star Tribune catch up rather than wallow in its all-is-okay, reality-denying Shangri La, a far cry from its 15-day series in June 1990 on the consequences of racism?

History is replete with reports of parallel governments. Regarding the current Gaza conflict, liberal and conservative commentators alike discuss the danger of parallel governments in the Arab world. We don't have to go to Cairo or Damascus to find parallel governments -- we have one in Minneapolis.

Just as we can ask when Gaza's Egyptians will again be governed by Egypt and the West Bank will finally become the State of Palestine, the St. Paul Pioneer Press report causes us to again ask about this column's long-ignored examination of the parallel government in Minneapolis.

The Pioneer Press reports that a biker group within the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has no problem pledging allegiance to National Socialism, the Iron Cross, or Adolph Hitler. Why isn't this very clear and present danger addressed by our government officials? Why are those in city government and the civil rights organizations so comfortable with this parallel government?

We ask why our officials are as comfortable with police calling U.S. Representative Keith Ellison "a Muslim terrorist" as they are with their attacks on Black police officers. We ask why they are supporting individuals and an organization whose members swear an oath to a war criminal who single-handedly planned and carried out the Holocaust before and during the Second World War.

At least these Black officers keep their sworn oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.

Is it any wonder, then, that these same City officials who will not protect the rights of African American police officers also sidestep offering to protect the rights of African American citizens?

These are not casual, haphazard, irresponsible observations. It's all there in the Pioneer Press investigative report. We find ominous these comfort levels of disdain for people of color.

The response of City officials, who will ask for your vote later this year, is to call us irresponsible for pointing out their actions that border on the criminal as they continue to give aid and comfort to this parallel government.

Five Black police officers, known as the Mill City 5, are not wearing the Iron Cross. They are not celebrating the birthday of Adolph Hitler. They are not mocking the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., and they are certainly not directing their hatred and racial animus toward our community. They uphold the oath of office they took when they became police officers.

The same, obviously, cannot be said by this police biker group that endorses the Confederate Flag, rationalizes the statement "hang them high," and brings brutality upon African Americans on the streets of our city. It seems that they believe this awesome power and authority has been entrusted to their parallel government.

We would like to think, as the oath of office is administered to Barack Obama on January 20, that change is indeed a-coming. But, if you are a resident of the cities that sit at the headwaters of the Mississippi, you wonder how it this momentous occasion will overcome the lack of respect for and appreciation of the African American.

This is the reality and facts we live with. We've always been told, as the sons and daughters of the African, that we shouldn't necessarily believe our own, but that we must always believe what Master tells us. He has now told us.

Nine days before the swearing in of Barack Obama in Washington, D.C., a respected White publication told us we need to rethink to whom we entrust the laws of Minneapolis and Minnesota, and to rethink how well they uphold their oath to the Constitution of the United States.

What some called scare tactics in our February 27, 2008, column is now revealed in the White St. Paul Pioneer Press as being very scary indeed.

All that one can say is, may God protect and preserve this great nation and all of us who make up its diverse people in these times of danger and challenge to the Constitution of this great nation. Stay tuned.

Posted February 20, 2009, 5:30 p.m.

January 14, 2009 Column #2: No Black face on White corruption means no investigation. Strib's treatment of the MPD shows loss of journalistic integrity

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

In March of 2008, investigative reporters of the Minneapolis Star Tribune let it be known [but not in print] they were looking for problems surrounding the demotions of African American officers in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). After the suspension of Officer Mike Roberts, a 28-year veteran of the MPD, and Lt. Lee Edwards, former inspector of the 4th precinct, the Star Tribune let it be known to the print and broadcasting journalistic circles that they had embarked upon a serious examination of corruption within the circle of the MPD's Black officers.

They hid behind the notion that this involved White officers in a multi-jurisdictional unit within the police department, despite their singling out just one White officer, Lt. Michael Keeefe. We broke the story in our August 29, 2007 column A Profile in Courage and Integrity, demonstrating it was retaliation for his fighting abuses and discrimination in the unit he commanded.

As the summer of 2008 came and went, it became clear to veteran observers that when the Star Tribune realized a Black face could not be put on the White corruption, their so-called investigative report was ended, as usual.

All during the fall and early winter of 2008, using other media sources, the Star Tribune continued to convey a message that this now-abandoned investigative report remained active. But even the most shallow of journalistic experts will tell you that if you can't get an investigative report completed within a year's time, then there is something wrong with either the skills or the integrity of the reporters and their paper -- or both.

In this case, integrity was never at play. It was never the intention of the Star Tribune to report honestly and factually regarding what they had uncovered. It didn't meet their profile that in anything pertaining to the MPD, the only news fit to print is the corruption of Black officers.

Finding the corruption among the White officers, the Star Tribune abandoned the investigation and, thus, any semblance of journalist integrity. Go back and look at the stories in the Star Tribune and in this newspaper, and then weigh the facts: The Star Tribune abandoned journalistic integrity as they practiced plantation journalism (see an accounting in Solution #30 on this web page). [Also see our 11-5-08 column, The shredding of 'Operation Payback'.]

The damage done to the African American officers -- and the African American community -- by this charade cannot begin to be measured. Lt. Lee Edwards lost the opportunity to become chief of another jurisdiction. Officer Mike Roberts, the longest serving African American police officer in the history of the MPD, has been fired and humiliated. His family and friends have been humiliated. His reputation had been torn to shreds, and yet nothing is said in the majority media about these travesties.

No examination has taken place by the White fourth estate because they could not put a Black face on White corruption. Perhaps in this time of change, corrective action will take place, but I would not necessarily hold my breath waiting for this to happen from those who lack journalistic integrity.

For a listing of our columns covering this, see our 2008 Year End Column Summary of December 31, 2008.

In the matter of Carl Eller

On January 7, 2009, the Star Tribune reported that a deal had been struck with Carl Eller just before he was to go on trial before an all-White jury. As we go to press, some details are vague and hazy. We will watch with interest Mr. Eller's federal lawsuit filed against the City.

As in the death of Quincy Smith, serious questions have been raised with respect to the impropriety of the MPD, including tampering with evidence, perjury, and procedural missteps with the court, all things that would normally call for an examination of how these things had happened.

But in a city in which the integrity of the majority media has been so severely compromised, and where City officials, both elected and appointed, have been so complicit in the violation of the civil rights of African Americans, the question answers itself. If they can't put a Black face on White corruption, they make sure they don't' report it. That seems to be the motto of the media majority in this city. Hopefully, this will change and something different will come our way.

Recall Martin Niemoller's words in our October 29 column about how when people don't stand up for others, there is no one left to stand up for them. If the City can treat Black citizens this way, they have a precedent. Whites get the treatment next. Stay tuned.

Posted January 15, 2009, 12:19 a.m.

January 7, 2009 Column #1: Nonprofits, foundations face funding crisis. Are contingency plans in place to safeguard communities of color?

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

As reported in the Star Tribune on December 27, 2008, the stock market drop during 2008 has caused even our top 25 local foundations to lose 30-40 percent of their portfolios.

This was clearly a shot across the bow. The many nonprofits in Minnesota, Montana, Washington State, etc. funded by these foundations need to roll out contingency plans or, failing to have those, develop plans for survival. Otherwise, the fallout will be severe.

For example, as of midnight, December 31, NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center reported a $500,000 deficit. Other African American-controlled social service agencies face as much as a 35-40 percent cut in staff and services. The Northwest Area Foundation has quietly pulled the plug on Northway Trust.

These tremors raise serious questions about nonprofit service agencies' and the foundations' survival plans. People's livelihoods and incomes are on the line. More importantly, clients and residents desperately anticipating services are left in the cold.

But, not all of the foundations have serious problems, as only "one-third of the grant makers are reviewing their priorities and are making some adjustments." That tells us that some made very bad investment decisions and are using the market turndown as cover.

When the article talks about needing funds to help "thousands of working-class breadwinners cut from Best Buy, Pentair, Caterpillar or the iron mines of northeastern Minnesota," as well as for "overseas causes," we are acutely aware of the fact that this excludes many communities of color in Minneapolis.

In two weeks, the foundations will meet in closed session to discuss their philanthropic commitments for both 2009 and 2010. In the following week, the United Way will meet with all agencies to reveal the cuts for 2009. We wonder again if such pessimism isn't to provide cover to cutting from organizations serving communities of color. And why coordinate to cut rather than coordinate to provide?

All of this suggests that the foundations and nonprofits alike don't all have effective contingency plans for emergencies. I hope I'm wrong. How the Urban League, Phyllis Wheatley, NorthPoint and others deal with scaling back both services and personnel will say a lot about how well they have planned and prepared contingencies for just such an emergency.

How serious is the problem? One can only speculate until leadership steps to the plate and gives us an indication of the State of Black Minnesota. In fact, such a statement is desperately needed over the next 24 months. Poverty is up. Homelessness is up.

And why "causes overseas" when we have too many children going to bed hungry each night in the Twin Cities and too many needing a school dropout prevention program (in and outside of the classroom). Where is the effort to keep kids in school, whether for academic or trade training, to enable them to become knowledgeable and, thus, by extension, to be prepared for life after school?

With the dropout (pushed out?) rates as high as they are, the educational system has failed us. The Minneapolis Public Schools system is not a disaster waiting to happen. It is a disaster already.

If for no other reason than for the safety and future of the children, and to head off serious and dangerous increases in crime and civil disorder, there need to be effective plans in place at foundations, nonprofits, and state/county/city agency levels. They should have been in place "yesterday."

The pre-Obama era paradigm of holding meetings about priorities needs to be replaced with the spirit of the Obama Era of Change. The president-elect has called for reform, not meetings and incrementalism. Needed is a 21st century paradigm that others advocate: increased grant-making, increased grant flexibity, increased program/mission-related investments, increased support for advocacy, and increased commitment to people serving nonprofits.

This brings us full circle back to those organizations established to help African Americans. This is not a time to sit back and expect "magic" gifts from Washington after January 20. Those embracing that kind of thinking should be removed as so-called "leaders" heading the agencies, organizations and institutions that have been entrusted with supporting and advocating for the safety and the future of the African American community and other communities of color.

We need to guard against the arrogance of White donors who dismiss the importance of the survival of the African American. Stay tuned.

Posted January 7, 2009, 6:25 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.

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