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2009 Columns
Quarter 3: July thru September ~ Columns #25 - #38

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September 30, 2009 Column #38: Lost: one disparity study. Found: an approach to keep the racism and discrimination ongoing

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

Nineteen ninety-seven was the last year that Minneapolis did a disparity study (the study of the availability of people to work and be employed within the workforce of a jurisdiction: state, county, and city, counting them by race and gender). Our politicians continue to block this significant path to equal opportunity.

All Democrats and Black leaders want in Minneapolis is to be proper on paper. But now that the money for leaders is drying up, they are finally trying to get funding for the workers and themselves as their leaders, which explains why, since January, the "leadership" in the African American community has been attacking the State of Minnesota and its Department of Transportation about its lack of jobs and contracts for Blacks on its projects.

The "formula" is this: Democrats do nothing for workers and Republicans smile approvingly as they do so. Governor Pawlenty's administration has been very clever in having its cake (do nothing for Black workers) and eating it too (use 12-year-old figures by the Democrats of the City of Minneapolis and its Civil Rights Department to certify that they are meeting the standards).

At least 11 times since 2007, the City's Civil Rights Department has gone before the City Council to indicate they were just weeks away from the completion of a new disparity study. Eleven times, my friends, 11 times.

Check the public record. Check the minutes of their meetings.

The city refuses to undertake a disparity study despite monies having been set aside for doing so in 2006. This is incompetence, malfeasance or both.

Minneapolis City Government enjoys inflicting maximum pain on the African American community, as its department has five times gone before the council with the same wink-wink song and dance. This is very disturbing.

The African American chairman of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, Ken Brown, has called out the City for its inaction. As a result, the City retaliated by not reappointing him to the commission. He did the right thing; he pressed hard for African Americans.

The good news is that the Minnesota Human Rights Department has accepted Ken Brown's civil rights complaint against the Democratic (DFL) Mayor R.T. Ryback and the DFL-controlled City Council.

Every effort is being made to suppress the information of this story. In the meanwhile, absent a disparity study, the State of Minnesota indicates that the 12-year-old goal stands. At the same time, the Pawlenty administration clearly recognizes that the Democrats have intentionally dropped the ball on behalf of its constituency, Black folks, as Democrats can always depend upon Blacks to keep them in office no matter how badly they treat them.

Based on state rules, the state will hand down a finding on Ken Brown's complaint by mid-December 2009.

Black leaders have indicated that they intend to march on the State Capitol to denounce the Pawlenty administration and the Department of Transportation. They should stop off at the Minneapolis City Hall on their way to the State Capitol to at least give equal weight in the pursuit of justice to the questionable conduct in both political arenas.

A study that never got done of people continuously denied but still expected to be faithful to the party banner continues to be a recipe for an American tragedy. Stay tuned.

Metro gang update

The firing of Minneapolis police officers assigned to the Metropolitan Gang Strike Force continues. Three have been fired in the last two weeks by a chief and a department who, in the first days of the allegations of wrongdoing, gave unequivocal assurances to the public and the City Council that no Minneapolis police officers were involved in wrongdoing.

However, a funny thing has happened on the road to transparency. Two weeks ago, the Democrats of the Minneapolis City Council were told the Democrats of the City Attorney's office, at the insistence of the Democrat mayor, that the City Council has no authority to question the department on issues of procedure, conduct and disciplinary action and that their only responsibility under the ordinance is to approve the budget and nothing else. For verification, contact Council Member Gary Schiff, Democrat, about his frustration with that ruling.

Stay tuned.

Questions the Big 7 need to answer regarding Nellie Stone Johnson's "no education, no jobs, no housing"

Regarding the "Big 7" (DFL, NAACP, Urban League, mayor, city council, governor, state legislature): When will they stop closing schools for Blacks (North High) while opening schools for Whites? When will they stop allowing noncompliance in Black hiring/contracting? When will they stop displacing Blacks for Whites in South and North Minneapolis/Holmann?

Stay tuned.

Posted 09-30-09, 10:07 p.m.

September 23, 2009 Column #37: Carter gets it right: Racism fuels attacks on Obama's governance

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

Former President Jimmy Carter, from Plains, Georgia, is to be respected and actually admired for doing something rare in White America, particularly among people of power: telling the plain truth.

In a town hall meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, last Tuesday, the former President of the United States told the plain truth about something that many Americans have suspected and a large percentage of African Americans have always known, that the intensifying attacks and mean-spirited allegations about the overall governance by President Barack Obama is driven by race and racism—by the sentiment that a Black should not be president.

The occasion of former-president Carter's comments was a question about South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson saying "You lie" during the president's address to Congress about health care. We wrote last week that race and racism are being used as an extremely dangerous instrument against the presidency of Barack Obama. Mark Williams, head of the so-called tea parties, on his website,, refers to the president as "an Indonesian-born Muslim thug."

Whereas we appreciate and respect the First Amendment, we also appreciate the Supreme Court's ruling that freedom of speech doesn't mean you can scream fire in a crowded theater when there is none.

It is people's actions (or inactions) that tell us if they are racist, President Carter explains. As a White peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia, who was bright enough to become president (and probably deserved a second term), Carter is well qualified to speak on race and racism, their roots and metaphors and utilization for racial hatred and animus—and the reality that it is still very much with us.

Although many Whites and even some Blacks, including the chairman of the Republican Party, may pretend to be offended, proof is in the reactions exposing a long-held, dangerous temperament of a nation that is pushing itself toward a racial abyss through racial nullification and reversal.

We find it amazing that people are saying that the presidential election of 2008 was one steeped in civility, respect, and the final acceptance of the possibility of something unknown previously in the American political system: the election of an African American as president.

Note the clear difference: When President Barack Obama was here at Target Center, young White men armed to the teeth were not only present, but also put on a military display across the street, carrying automatic weapons with live ammunition (Star Tribune, September 14). The response? Boys will be boys.

On the other hand, we remember 40 years ago when Black militants Rap Brown and Bobby Seales and others stood outside the California capitol in Sacramento with empty rifles, resulting six months later in both the California Assembly and the U.S. Congress changing the law on the right to bear arms.

This column is troubled but not terrified; nor will we back away from the truth in this column. When opponents, rather than talk about policy, challenge the president's citizenship, refer to him as a terrorist Muslim thug, question his loyalty to our Constitution and say he has no right to speak to America's children about the fundamental issues of excelling, attending school, and setting goals in life (continuing the tradition of the previous 43 presidents)—then we find ourselves on a very different and troubling path.

There are too many depraved, angry and spiteful people and minds in this country seeking to correct the biggest problem from their perspective: a Black American seated in the most powerful office on the planet.

We play a dangerous game when, as African Americans, we pretend that racism ended in America with the election of Barack Obama. This is why it is troubling when even Black leaders act as if they don't see the slave ship, all the while knowing they could just as quickly be placed on the gallows, have their backs ripped apart with a whip, and be left with nooses around their necks to sway in the winds of nullification and reversal.

Racism in America has intensified, my friends, and until we heed Nellie Stone Johnson's warnings about education, jobs and housing, our times will become more dangerous. Stay tuned.

Jason Anderson, Fong Lee shooter, fired

The Star Tribune and Pioneer Press finally caught up to us in their September 17 articles, "Officer...who fatally shot teen and was accused of domestic abuse." The whole episode was another example of racism in Minneapolis. Stay tuned.

Originally posted 9/23/2009

September 16, 2009 Column #36: No Black voodoo, just presidential greatness. Since when can't the president talk to the nation's children?

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

In the first nine months of his term, President Obama, as all great presidents, has not shied away from weighty issues of concern to Americans: the losses on Wall Street, the unstable economy and the loss of jobs, and his current battle to become America's first president to successfully advance healthcare legislation that includes everyone.

The president has done so by facing hard truths and irrefutable facts, not running from them or pretending they don't exist. Recall the summer of 2008 when he encouraged Americans to talk about race. Many resisted having to look at the racism in their mirrors.

Three recent high-profile incidents have shown how the president has skillfully led the nation into a debate over race that those who seek the protection of anonymity in their white sheets of nullification and reversal did not recognize.

The first incident was with Professor Gates of Harvard, in Boston, Mass. The level of outrage at his use of the word "stupid"—a word his opponents use all the time about him—is telling.

The second incident was the president speaking to the nation's school children on the occasion of the opening of school. That so many Whites protested is another "tell." He broke an age-old taboo developed during slavery plantations days: the taboo that a Black person must never be allowed to influence White children. As the president does so, he becomes a "nightmare" haunting their attempts at nullification and reversal.

Something convinced some people to believe that this president was going to spin some kind of Black voodoo. But he didn't. He spoke to America's children in the role he plays so well, that of a father of two daughters who is concerned about their education. He also plays the role of a husband married to a woman, the daughters' mother, who is equally challenging about the importance of education.

Who better than they to speak to America's children about the number-one key to personal and professional success: education?

The third incident was his Wednesday speech on health reform, not only to a joint session of Congress but to millions of Americans around this nation and millions more watching from around the world. The debate over health care still has a lot to do with who can afford it and who cannot. Regardless of the final who-or-what-pays policy, he made clear to all what African Americans have long understood: Race is part of the equation, as Blacks have too often and in too many places been excluded not only from medical attention but also from medical schools.

President Obama released his speech 24 hours beforehand, and, given the responses, it became quite clear that the forces of nullification and reversal were caught off guard. He was presidential. He was caring. He knew how to sidestep the minefields. He showed his experience, his political savvy, and his understanding of the opposition that he will continue to face over the next three and a half years.

In a word, he showed the greatness that has eluded many White would-be leaders, which is in part where the current anger and opposition originates. A job well done, Mr. President, on three very interesting platforms: Cambridge/Gates, school children, and a promise not to be intimidated or outmaneuvered as you work to keep promises made to the American people in your campaign of 2008.

As the president works to end nullification and reversal, we are reminded of the key words of Nellie Stone Johnson, co-founder of the DFL: "...Education...Jobs...Housing." Here in Minneapolis education, North High is being closed. Here in Minneapolis employment, we still see purposeful noncompliance regarding hiring Black workers and contractors. Here in Minneapolis housing, more Blacks are being added to the Diaspora of Hollman/Heritage Park.

Stay tuned.

Metro Gang Task Force update

The Twin Cities' two major newspapers continue to refuse to practice fair journalism, which contributes to their ongoing loss of readership. Over a year ago, you couldn't read either paper without seeing the names of Black officers and their pictures plastered all over the two major dailies in a negative light, while they simultaneously refused to identify White officers involved in overtime and other abuses.

Now they refuse to identify the White Metro Gang Task Force policemen being investigated. Journalism is not intended to lionize those in power, but to hold those in power accountable.

Posted 9-18,2009, 11:48 p.m.

September 9, 2009 Column #35: Cover-up of MPD abuses continues. There's only been one whistleblower, and it's not Sgt. Kelly O'Rourke

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

As Police Sgt. Joe Friday always said in the old Dragnet police series, "Nothing but the facts, ma'am. Nothing but the facts." Minneapolis needs more Joe Fridays.

For the five years we served on the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) through 160 meetings, we, citizens and police together, gathered a lot of information and heard testimony from a lot of citizens. We uncovered a lot of misconduct.

These were our facts, known by the police, including factual misconduct, especially by the MPD, on Black police officers. But the only whistleblower we ever saw certified was Lt. Michael Keefe (see our August 29, 2007, column in this paper, "A profile in courage and integrity: Lt. Michael Keefe").

Over five years, 160 meetings, we weighed the facts against the fictions.

What Lt. Michael Keefe revealed was fact. What Sgt. Kelly O'Rourke is alleging, on the other hand, is fiction (see Star Tribune , August 21, 2009, "Ex-Strike Force member sues Minneapolis"). O'Rourke claims he was reassigned after trying to blow the whistle on the Metro Gang Strike Force in 2007.

O'Rourke's fiction reported as fact received coverage by local media (print and broadcast), whereas Lt. Keefe's facts did not. Notice the key difference: Sgt. O'Rourke admits his attempts were oral, not in writing. He never wrote up his reports, never called any press conferences, never went to Internal Affairs, never went to the chief or the mayor or the city council on the record. Instead, we get another famous Minneapolis moment: He speaks, therefore it is.

The facts don't support his fictions. Even after being reassigned to the Violent Offenders Task Force, he never expressed his concerns nor shared his information with his federal partners (FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, etc.). The facts are that Lt. Michael Keefe was actually doing all of the above.

In this column (May 28, 2008, "Cops help bad guys threaten good citizens"), we reported on the terrifying experience facing an African American family, a mother and a daughter, whose lives were placed in jeopardy because of the MPD and Sgt. O'Rourke. We joined that family in a May 8, 2008, meeting with Chief Dolan. Nothing was done.

Factually? It would be another six months before the gang banger who was supplied information by the police identifying the young lady (who would later testify against him) was apprehended (by county sheriffs, not MPD).

Facts: They hang as a heavy albatross around the necks of those, including the chief, claiming to be against such corruption. The record is clear: The only bona fide whistleblower that this department has known in the last 40 years was Lt. Michael Keefe.

Examine the letter of January 8, 2008, by the Minneapolis City Attorney regarding their investigation of Lt. Michael Keefe's whistleblowing efforts, first reviewed and examined in this column in January 2008 ("If White police aren't safe, who is?").

A very dangerous, yet sophisticated charade is being perpetrated against the general public in an effort to save the careers (and the tax-supported retirement benefits) of members of a department who are clearly out of control.

Don't you find it interesting that in situations in which African Americans have been beaten and killed by Minneapolis police in the last five years, not one single police officer has stepped up to the plate and helped blow the whistle? The exception is Lt. Michael Keefe.

The Strib and Pi Press reported recently that the departments are not releasing the names of the White officers of the Metro Gang Strike Force charged with criminality. We submit and maintain that this represents a "Code of Silence" as well as support for a culture of violence.

The ultimate victims? As more Whites see what is really being reflected back at even them in the mirror that is the city, more Whites will ask, "If White citizens aren't safe, who is?"

The examination of the department's and City's corruption and decadence that must take place will have to be at the highest level of the federal government, and must include the possibility of the appointment of a special prosecutor and the assigning of special federal agents from outside of the Federal District of Minnesota.

Will it happen? It should. As we said in last week's column, these abuses are neither the first nor will they be the last in a troubled department and a silent City administration until such an investigation takes place. Stay tuned.

Posted 9-25-09, 7:07 p.,m.

September 2, 2009 Column #34: The Metro Gang Strike Force; The Denial of Race As A Policy

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

At exactly 2:00 p.m., on Wednesday, August 26, 2009, State Representative Debra Hilstrom (DFL), District 46B, gaveled to order the Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee Meeting. Testifying, in order, were:

Jim Nobles, Legislative Auditor
Andy Luger, Co-Chairman of the Oversight Committee
Michael Campion, Commissioner, Dept of Public Safety
Bob Bushman, Coordinator of the State Wide Gang and Drug Task Force.

Few know that this committee met on the previous day in closed session. It was quite obvious to us observers at the hearing that a political decision had been made to not discuss the issue of race, as reported and identified in the August 20, 2009, report entitled, Report of the Metro Gang Task Force Review Panel (recall that the unit not only didn't have any Black officers in it, it refused to let Black officers apply).

As I sat in this hearing and heard them use the term "saturation," it was the first time I had heard this substitute for "racial profiling" and "racial targeting" used in Minneapolis. "Saturation patrol" refers to concentrating large numbers of police officers in one geographic area to detect and apprehend impaired drivers engaged in moving violations. See Star Tribune coverage, "Metro Gang Strike Force hearing: Plenty of blame, but no answers Lawmakers grope for facts, investigators say full story of downfall yet to be told."

If not for the courageous and tenacious perseverance of Senator Mee Moua (DFL) District 67, the issue of race and the racial profiling (looking for people of color) would not have been discussed. And least 4,000 of the 5,000 arrests or seizures by the Task Force were of people of color,.

One of the problems with the Public Safety Policy and Oversight Committee is that the only two African Americans in the Minnesota legislature are not committee members, and so it was left to the Hmong Senator from St. Paul to courageously make the inquiries on behalf of the various communities of color, particularly those in the Metro Area.

This was the first time, in our long Civil Rights experience, that we have heard white politicians substitute "saturation" for "racial profiling" and "racial targeting" in Minneapolis. You have to remember that, according to the report of the both the Review Panel and the Legislative Auditor, this Metro Gang Strike Force was a union of gangsters who had drugs, seized weapons, and had $300,000 in cash just laying around in their HQ in New Brighten.

Commander Ron Ryan was quoted in the Auditor's Report in May 2009, as saying that the seizure of property, and the possible sale of over 100 automobiles, was done to keep the Gang Task Force inner structure afloat. The Committee was told, on August 26, that the Gang Task Strike Force had over $1 million dollars in three separate bank accounts.

If not for the tenaciousness of Sheriff Richard Stanick of Hennepin County, the Cover-Up would not have been brought to light. The legislature is now trying to buy time by saying they may hold public hearings in February. Word has it that the FBI will need that much time to conduct a white wash and remove all evidence of one of the most egregious of Minnesota law enforcement misconduct and corruption in 80 years.

But it was the decision to obstruct and eliminate the issue of racial profiling that is frightening and chilling to the constitutional rights and protections of persons of color in the State of Minnesota. Only Senator Moen and Sheriff Richard Stanik have talked about the severe and dangerous damage that could be done to future relationships between the minority communities and law enforcement in this state.

We may never know the full amount of money that has been absconded with or the amount of drugs that were confiscated and then re-sold on the streets of the Metro area. The events following the state auditors report, and the destruction of thousands of legal documents that were shredded, are referred to on p. 28 of the Report of August 20, 2009.

As Thurgood Marshall noted, though our government started "defective" (left slavery unresolved), with Marshall we "celebrate our system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today," and eagerly await Minnesota finally also working, as Marshall put it, "protecting individual freedoms and human rights."

For more information, see Star Tribune article, Forfeiture law questioned after gang force misuse. Legislators get an earful from state investigators on how it went so wrong.

Once again, in this state, forces that should represent justice and right of access and due process, have been engaged in a massive coverup that will continue to erode the trust, the respect, and the support of the communities of color of the police, as once again, we are disfranchised under the color of law.

Posted September 3, 2009, 1:40 a.m.

August 26, 2009 Column #33: MPD's 'culture of violence' still prevails. Assault on Darryl Jenkins not the first or the last.

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

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."—Bishop Desmond Tutu

About 10 days ago (August 17 and 18), TV stations, newspapers and websites across the country reported on the February 19, 2009, Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) beating of Darryl Jenkins. All linked to or referenced the brutality captured by the police car dash cam video, as did You Tube, here and here.

Even the Star Tribune finally spoke up: "The Minneapolis Police Department has a history of trouble with brutality... The city has paid out more than $14 million in settlements and other liability payouts for police misconduct since 2000... Questionable behavior has been part of the department's culture for years... In too many cases...problems with excessive force continue... The city must do more to see that cops don't abuse their power and authority over citizens" (Star Tribune, August 18 2009: Editorial: The troubling arrest of Derryl Jenkins).

Since the end of the Federal Mediation Agreement on December 31, 2008, the acts of police brutality against African Americans have been off the chart, as we have long written about citizens being killed, beaten, maimed, and otherwise brutalized by police. Thankfully this incident will receive FBI review.

(See our 2/4/09 MSR column on the death by tazer of Quincey Smith by the MPD, ("Homicide of Quincy Smith warrants federal inquiry").

Later, on February 19, at a house in the 3100 block of Queen Avenue North, an 11-year-old African American girl was hit in the face by police and suffered a wound requiring six stitches—yet one more child who will be unable to trust police again.

A week ago, another African American, Willie Bryant, was attacked by a police dog in South Minneapolis, resulting in ligament damage to his leg (36 stitches) and loss of some mobility and flexibility.

Earlier this summer Mr. Johnson, of the 4200 block of Penn Avenue North, was beaten by police, leaving him walking on crutches and now using a cane. As with Mr. Jenkins, charges against Mr. Bryant and Mr. Johnson were dropped or not made at all, and none were arrested. Just beaten.

Now, MPD Chief Tim Dolan, who boasts of knowing all, wants us to believe that he had no knowledge of the Jenkins controversy. In fact, in March 2009 when the charges were dismissed by the district court, the chief was informed by the City Attorney's Office. As with the case of Carl Eller, the MPD tried to suppress this video evidence.

The Star Tribune also reported on MPD text messages calling the incident a "good fight," almost as if the new members to the MPD were carrying out an initiation ceremony as seven or eight beat, kicked and tazered Mr. Jenkins. The video shows a long conversation between Officer Walker and Mr. Jenkins with the car door open. Why would Officer Walker do that?

The City paying out $14 million in settlements and other liability payouts for police misconduct since 2000 is staggering and frightening. The taxpayer is held accountable, not the police.

Ten years ago a jury, in awarding a $1 million settlement, said to the presiding federal judge that "a significant part of the weight that they gave to their verdict was that they determined that a culture of brutality and violence existed within this department." That culture still exists.

As one who served on a federal committee that attempted for five years to have suggestions for corrective action accepted, only to have the committee's efforts obstructed, sabotaged and circumvented, we are not surprised that a culture of brutality and violence continues to prevail in the MPD, some of it driven by the issue of race.

The Star Tribune editorial of August 18 ignored the history and offered no solutions, leaving the volcano under the crust of this city to bubble. It is just a matter of time before it erupts, and if it does we'll talk about Pompeii in North America.

Posted 8-26-09, 5:15 a.m.

August 19, 2009 Column #32: Let's fix health care before the nation implodes.

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

We in this corner have watched with amazement the anger, frustration and polarization gripping the nation in the healthcare debate. To a lay person, as we are in this corner, and as an African American, we understand all too well what the lack of access to good health care can do to a race of people and their future—and, by extension, the health of the nation as we struggle for fairness and justice in heath care, meaning equal access and equal opportunity.

But this debate has taken a nasty, almost dangerous turn, such that security now has to be provided in town hall meetings for public officials. How can we have a good debate and achieve a reasoned outcome, not a dictated one from either side, when "debaters" call those they don't agree with Nazis, grandma killers and baby killers?

The question is "simple": How do we provide health care that keeps costs down and is fair in doing so? Where is the sensible middle ground between "Grandma: drop dead" and "grandkids: spend your future on us and let your future drop dead"?

With 80 percent of healthcare costs coming in the last year of life due to the miracles of technology (including instruments, procedures and pharmaceuticals), the question is understandable regarding where to draw the line trying to postpone the inevitability of death, and at what cost?

Nonetheless, the who-lives-or-dies decision made by others has been too painfully understood by the Black community ever since we first stepped ashore at the Carolina slave auctions and then had to live through the inequalities of access and opportunities during the Jim Crow and post-Jim Crow days, as well as our current "inner-city" days.

Too large a segment of the poor in America, especially Black poor, have been denied health care outright or received only partial health care. People are responding to the "Cadillac program" promises of the two leading Democratic candidates of 2008 and the difference in what is being offered now.

We hear Ted Kennedy's regret that he helped kill the universal health care proposed by Nixon as he didn't want Republicans to get the credit. (That program would now be nearly 40 years old and improved).

Bill Clinton said he wanted everything in a bill or he would veto it. That program didn't make it either. It would have been in effect now for over a decade.

So let's stop seeking credit and perfection and instead deliver a just and fair health program, recognizing the greater call on resources by the young (nutrition, pre- and post-natal care, and, especially, dealing with young Blacks who are obese).

What is the appropriate level of health care as one moves from cradle to grave? And at what point will doctors not want to fight death (and always eventually lose) when faced with $200,000 premiums for malpractice insurance?

What greater nightmare than to go into the ER with excruciating pain or serious limb- threatening injuries and then be denied care for not having the right kind of insurance?

What has emerged is intense lobbying, from those who believe our system is perfect and doesn't need change to those who believe our system is broken and needs to be fixed. Big dollars are being spent on both sides to recruit, to sabotage, and to increase tension and anger in a nation that is already mad.

The bailout of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street still does not sit well with a significant number of Americans. The good intentions of health care have turned us into a house divided against itself.

Again, even though we are merely lay people, we want to understand how the numbers get crunched. One day the Congressional Budget Office says we cannot afford it, and on another day, with different assumptions, it says we can. What cannot be denied is that people are angry.

As Americans who believes that having a good health program is in the best interest of the nation and the human race, we need to work together for health, not for political points. Hopefully, the important folks like Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Health and Big Government will get it right before the nation implodes. Please stay tuned.

Posted Ajugust 8-26-09, 5:32 a.m.

August 12, 2009 Column #31: Harrison development project scrapped. Is Harrison targeted to host a new Vikings stadium?

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

For the North Minneapolis Harrison Community's promised redevelopment project, the City again promises and the City again taketh away.

Promised over two years ago, the Harrison Neighborhood Association leadership worked two years with City planners on this billion-dollar dream of new housing, condos, apartment buildings, retail and commercial development, with the Ryan Companies designated prime builders.

Imagine the shock, disappointment and anger over a week ago when the Harrison community was told there would be no new Shangri La (including not moving the City's Impound Lot). It is said Ryan will be off the hook within eight months for any domestic development responsibility. Neither the City nor Ryan was willing to solve their fiscal obligation.

The latest rumor on Harrison is that it will be the new home of the Minnesota Vikings. That raises the question of who would contribute funding besides Vikings owner Ziggy Wilf.

Will the NFL still provide funds? Will stimulus money floating around looking for shovels be used? Will big financial institutions seeking projects to deploy capital participate? What will be the taxpayer "obligation"?

Harrison is not happy about a stadium that would stimulate little daily life for the neighborhood other than traffic jams 8-10 Sundays a year. And, it can't be making Roy Terwilliger (chairman of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Commission) happy; he offered a second alternative in the July 25, 2009 Pioneer Press: Build a "$954 million retractable-roof stadium" on the current Metrodome site for the Vikings and other Minnesota sports activities.

A third alternative offered in the same Pioneer Press story is that the Vikings move or be sold and moved, as the legislature refuses to consider the Vikings in the 2010 session, even though the Vikings' lease is up in 2011.

The Vikings are last in stadium revenues in the NFL, which means the time for innovative and creative thinking to create a financial package for a new home for the Vikings was yesterday, especially if it is to be done without new taxes. But the state legislature refuses to consider it.

So, just as the Harrison neighborhood had the rug pulled out from under it after their two years of effort with the planners, will the question for Vikings fans be, as with former Lakers fans, "Who lost the Vikings?"

This all comes at an awkward time for Minneapolis with respect to how it works its development strategy, as seen in the current trial in the matter of Continental Developers vs. the City of Minneapolis . Continental seeks $25 million in damages from the City for failing to keep its commitment to allow them to build an office tower.

Of course, as the trial moves forward, the Star Tribune fails to report on it even as every developer in the Twin Cities area watches with great interest the testimony of City officials. Some of that testimony begins to make sense with respect to the Harrison location for the new Vikings palace to keep the Vikings in town, despite articles in Los Angeles papers rampant with stories of at least two locations offering lucrative deals to get an NFL team; they include on their wish list our beloved Vikings (will they join their cousins the L.A. Lakers? See 7-14-09, Billionaire Ed Roski Wants Your NFL Team in Los Angeles).

We wonder if "the plan" being discussed for our inner city includes a plan to have trucks roll out with the Vikings as did the Baltimore, now Indianapolis, Colts. Isn't that the plan of the business and legislative elites, as we warned in Chapter 15 of our 2002 book about how a decision of the few will send the Vikings packing (as now posted on our website)?

Former Sports Commissioner Henry Savelkoul began the four-teams-cannot-flourish theme, exposed by this newspaper's sports reporter Larry Fitzgerald in May 1997: "Vikings are going, going, gone." Strib reporter Jay Weiner, in his 2000 book Stadium Games , said Savelkoul gave "the most chilling" speech heard by anyone who cares about sports in Minnesota.

All we did in 2005 was was post the "roll call" of officials, legislators and businessmen supporting "gone" (as business don't want to have to buy four sets of suites, which is why major corporations sponsor the Twins, Timberwolves and Wild while few sponsor the Vikings). No one has stepped forward to refute any part of the roll call.

We will continue to connect the dots. Stay tuned.

Posted August 14, 2009, 1:55 p.m.

August 5, 2009 Column #30: Minneapolis Urban League on shaky ground. Members have been disenfranchised, bylaws violated.

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

Former Minneapolis Urban League Board Member Roxanne Givens spoke frankly of the organization in a front-page story in this newspaper two weeks ago. Many social reformers took note. Joe Nathan of the Humphrey Institute congratulated this newspaper in a letter last week for the "well written, insightful and balanced article regarding the Minneapolis Urban League." [See "Urban League callously removed board member" at end of our Column #25, July 1, 2009].

This column describes some of what is below the tip of the iceberg that threatens to sink the Twin Cities Urban League branches.

Last Monday, July 27, the Minneapolis Urban League had what they called their annual meeting of the board of directors, as allowed by Article 3 of the Minneapolis Urban League Bylaws (last amended July 11, 2007).

The disturbing ruling by the presiding outgoing chair (who was once the general council for the soon-to-be-defunct Northwest Airlines) that members of the organization would not be allowed to participate in the electoral process (thus violating Article 3) jeopardizes the affiliate's status. This action suppressed participation by the members, disenfranchising them and putting the board in extreme violation of Article 6 of their bylaws.

The language is clear: "The Board of Directors shall place in nomination, at the annual membership meeting, candidates for the Board of Directors. Additional director candidates may be nominated directly by the membership of the Minneapolis Urban League if endorsed in writing by at least five members."

As the chairman of the Minneapolis Urban League Board and many fellow board members are attorneys, they have to know they are in egregious violation of Articles 6, 2 and 3 of their own Bylaws (following the lead of the City that is in violation of its own compliance statutes).

Of greater historic interest is their reference to Article 1, Section 2 of their Articles of Incorporation, which reminds us of the case of the great forgeries in 1989 used to force Nellie Stone Johnson (cofounder of the DFL), myself (Minneapolis Urban League chair at the time), and the rest of our board out of office.

As I wrote in 2002, "The Urban League needs to...stop providing automatic votes for...the Democratic Party, which seeks out Black votes but not Black participation nor Black economic empowerment and wealth generation."

We saw this 20 years ago when a second set of Articles of Incorporation surfaced that clearly contradicted the Minneapolis Urban League Articles of Incorporation and the national nonprofit's 501(3)(c) status by defining the Minneapolis Urban League as a membership organization. The second set "appeared" in 1989 after being 50 years in a box in the corner of the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.

The setup was taken to court, where the White power structure's White district court judge ruled that the State's box, after gathering dust for 50 years, held the prevailing Articles, and that the Minneapolis Urban League is a membership organization.

This enabled the Minneapolis Urban League to dismiss all of us, leading the governor at that time, Rudy Perpich to say that he had no room for any organization without room for Nellie Stone Johnson or Ron Edwards. He ceased all interaction with the Minneapolis Urban League.

Rumors abound that both of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Urban League affiliates are being pressured to merge into a Greater Urban League of the Twin Cities (part of the NW Area Foundation plan) due to their dire financial straits (after years of dubious fiduciary practices).

All of us in that evening meeting on the 27th heard clearly and concisely about the financial straits of the Minneapolis Urban League, including the $10,000 shortfall for Minneapolis Urban League Family Day.

For an organization that claims as a key strength its board's ability to raise funds not to have $10,000 on hand raises serious questions about the future of both Urban League affiliates and their ongoing relevance within the Black community.

We ask again, "Where is the plan" for serving the constituents, not the organizations? The only plan we have seen so far is this one to disenfranchise Minneapolis Urban League voters in violation of Minneapolis Urban League Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Stay turned.

When is a man's home not his castle?

Answer: When you express your concern and outrage to White police about their mistake caused by racial profiling, as done to Professor Gates in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and to President Obama when he expressed his opinion in defense of his friend.

It is not stupid for Professor Gates to stand up for himself in his own home. Nor is it stupid for a Black president to stand up for democratic institutions and democracy in America.

NOTE: for more background, see The Role of Black Organizations in the Minneapolis Story...NAACP, Urban League, Civil Rights Commission...Now Part of the Problem Rather Than the Solution from Chapter 14 of The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes. Purchase book here (and get all 18 chapters and 15 Interludes).

Posted August 4, 2009, 4:30 p.m.

July 29, 2009 Column #29: Mid-Year Update

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

We are mid-way between the start of an historic Presidency and an upcoming historic city election. We mark this mid-way point by updating stories we have reported on in this column, especially as they relate to the future of public safety and of fairness for Black workers and contractors.

Update: Public safety:at this time last year historic settlement agreements and trials regarding how the MPD discriminates against Black police were anticipated. The trials never happened. And in the case of the Mill City 5, a settlement far less that what the city proposed in July 2008 took place. Since then, the MPD has begun an historic retaliation.

The first two retaliations are against Lt. Michael Keefe and Sgt. Charles Adams. On the week of August 10 , 2009, Lt. Michael Keefe will appear before a "disciplinary board" which will recommend his discharge. Charges have been filed against Sgt. Charles Adams, one of the Mill City 5, who, according to reliable forces, is facing discipline and termination actions based on "charges" brought against him by the head of Internal Affairs. We will watch this retaliation process closely. If the City continues to look the other way, will you really feel safe?

Update: Jason Anderson and Fong Lee.

Three weeks ago this column reported what the Star Tribune confirmed last Wednesday: the additional acts of violence and public disorder by Fong Lee's killer, Officer Jason Anderson. Officer Anderson lost his service revolver and was involved in a major confrontation in downtown Minneapolis on June 14, 2009, as he celebrated his acquittal in the Fong Lee shooting with his friends. Anderson is currently assigned to desk duty.

The Star Tribune also reported on Officer Anderson's arrest for domestic assault in his home town of Big Lake, Minnesota. By the time this column is published, the St. Paul Pioneer Press will have published, according to reliable sources, a feature story analyzing the ongoing and previous problems of Officer Anderson, including, as first reported in this column, the allegations of his planting a gun on an African American suspect, in March 2008.

Update: in the death of Quincey Smith.

As of the writing of this column, authorities continue to decline to release information on the rifle supposedly in Mr. Smith's possession just minutes prior to his violent death from tazers used by the Minneapolis police. Police allege that there are DNA results from the rifle. In the meanwhile, the County Attorney's Office refuses to set a date for a review by a Hennepin County Grand Jury surrounding the December 2008 death of Mr. Smith. The Grand Jury may not hear this matter until the last week of November 2009. Why the delay?

Update: Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.

No action is contemplated before the Mayor's budget address on August 13th . It is rumored that both police and fire departments will face cuts, as the city attempts to manage a $24 million deficit. The City's diminution of Civil Rights underscores the great cries calling out for increasing them.

Update: Bids for the project at Marquette and Second Avenue

New bids required by the ordered re-bidding were opened at 10:30 a.m., on Tuesday morning, July 21st . On Monday, July 20th , the City Council declined to make inquiry surrounding the circumstances of the re-bids.

Update on City Heat

After our column two weeks ago, Councilman Ralph Remington (D-10th Ward) called to express his disappointed that we had not given him credit in our July 8 and 15 columns for initiating an aggressive action of inquiry into City Heat. We told the Councilman we wanted to do right by him, and that he had indeed advised us, in March 2009, that he had asked both Internal Affairs and the City Attorney to investigate allegations reported in the white dailies. His indication that Internal Affairs did not begin until June is consistent with the information I received from the head of Internal Affairs approximately three weeks ago. It still leaves the question of why nothing was done when we wrote of City Heat in our columns of January 2 (MPD's scorched-earth policy) and February 27, 2008 (City ignores signs of extremist danger). Why no investigation in 2008?

Whose Plan? And planning for what?

We continue to wait to see what plans will be offered by the Mayor, the Chief, and the NW Area Foundation, etc. We invite them to review and consider the plans we have written and published about since 2002, summarized as, A Seat for Everyone.

Posted Wednesday, July 29, 2009, 12:50 p.m.
Originally posted at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on 7/29/2009

July 22, 2009 Column #28: The Fairway Foundation gets it done, Minnesota struts its stuff in Kansas City

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

Minnesota and its golf fraternity are preparing to enjoy the spotlight of next month's PGA (Professional Golf Association) tournament in Chaska August 13-16 at the Hazeltine National Golf Club.

But, with the exception of Tiger Woods in the field of about 150 golfers, there will be no African Americans despite the 1990 intervention by Jesse Jackson and others at the Birmingham, Alabama, Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club that began the move to integrate White-only clubs.

Shoal Creek wanted a PGA tournament, but their refusal to drop their White-only policy caused even major sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch, IBM and Toyota to cancel their sponsorships. The problem was "solved" when a single Black was given a free membership, enabling Shoal Creek to be deemed "integrated."

It got its tournament, but far too many still use a "token" to define "integrated." Black civil rights supporters who look the other way are turncoats helping deny Blacks a seat at golf's table. There are fewer African Americans today on the pro tour than 20 years ago. Where is the plan to get access for future Black golfing champions?

The Fairway Foundation has one. Founded in 1993 by members of the 3M Championship, the Minnesota Golf Association and the Minnesota Section of the PGA, it recognized that bringing golf to urban youth was a way for them to develop positive life skills and values.

I had the honor of traveling with David Goodlow, founder of the foundation, and his son Eric Goodlow, the current president, and their 24 Fairway Foundation-sponsored young people to the July 13-15 Fourth Annual Alvin Brooks Metro Junior Golf Classic in Kansas City, Missouri, for kids seven to 17. They stayed at the Marriott Hotel, played on two major courses, and gained positive experiences.

The 24 Fairway Foundation-sponsored African American kids was the largest contingent from the nine participating states: Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. Our 24 competitive young Minnesotans took home the bacon.

More important than the success of the players is the fact that the Fairway Foundation seeks to enable "a seat for everyone" through equal access and equal opportunity to play golf. Fifteen parents also made the trip, taking time from their schedules to support their kids playing against both Black and White teams.

The Fairway Foundation has done a tremendous job making room for minority kids at golf's table. The foundation has touched over 5,000 mostly urban youth over its 16 years of serving young people, through programs focusing on education and recreation, life skills, cultural enrichment and mentoring. They have a great mission statement: "keeping kids on course."

It is one of the best-kept secret success stories of our Twin Cities African American communities. While our other Black organizations talk the walk, the Fairway Foundation actually walks the walk.

Too many minority organizations plan self-congratulating publicity rather than carrying out actual plans for serving kids. Eric Goodlow and the Fairway Foundation have something worth congratulating. Fairway is run by volunteers who pass on to the kids in their program — not to themselves — the lucrative incentives provided by the PGA, local golf distributors, and Minnesota corporations.

The Fairway Foundation has the only program showing up consistently with significant numbers of youngsters participating year round, unlike those who plan single photo-op situations they masquerade as year round. As we said, we saw it first hand. We listened quietly to their discussions and their enthusiasm for competitiveness in Kansas City and during the 14-hour round-trip bus ride.

We are extremely proud of the 15 parents who understand how making a difference as parents comes from participating with their kids. They took the occasion to make the journey so their children and their kids' teammates could participate in a positive and life-affirming event.

We hear so much about the do-nothingness of the African American community, its parents and its youth. False program brochures show pictures of minority kids, sometimes in a two-to-one ratio, when in reality it is often over 125-to-one in terms of their actual participation.

For those seeking plans for success, look to the Fairway Foundation. It is unfortunate that they are not recognized commensurate with their success. Sadly, they will not receive the $900 from the PGA this year. Will another donor step up?

To David and Eric Goodlow, the sponsored young people and their parents: Congratulations on providing a true American success story. Stay tuned.

Posted July 22, 2009, 4:04 p.m.
Originally posted at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on 7/22/2009

July 15, 2009 Column #27: Mismanagement forced re-bid of Marquette and 2nd Avenue Project. Cover-up keeps city council in the dark.

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

On July 6, 2009, a Minneapolis City Council committee, chaired by Council Member Scott Benson (DFL-11th Ward), placed on the agenda what was to have been the final report and recommendations on the reorganization and future of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Unsatisfied with the report of the department's director, Mr. Jordan, the committee directed him to return with a more complete report with recommendations on July 20. He then left.

Later, 15 protesters entered the council chambers carrying placards calling for a more transparent process. They alleged that the Civil Rights Department had not carried out the recommendations and directions of the resolution of Council Member Elizabeth Glidden (DFL-8th Ward).

Council Member Robert Lilligren (DFL-6th Ward) then asked questions about plans to raise monies for the department through fees and penalties from monitoring billions of dollars of projects now underway in the City of Minneapolis. Council Member Lilligren specifically identified the project at 2nd Avenue and Marquette, causing a mayor's aid to retrieve Mr. Jordan.

When Council Member Lilligren stated how pleased they were that the project at 2nd Avenue and Marquette was up and running well, Director Jordan nodded. In reality, Jordan was keeping quiet about the fact that the project had been so badly managed by his department that the City's purchasing department, because of serious legal complications, had put the project out for a rare re-bid.

This is a story of significant intrigue, mismanagement and cover-up. In fact, we assume that there are readers at city hall, including members of the city council, who will first learn of this intrigue and cover-up when they read this column.

Why? Because the memo to them about it was blocked. That, in turn, raises the question of who in City government and on the city council blocked dissemination of the information to the entire council. This is another embarrassing example of what is too often standard operating procedure from our "public be damned" City officials.

It started with the threat of lawsuits over misidentification of the difference between companies known as women and minority enterprises (WMBE and MBE). It will be interesting, in the next six days following the publishing of this column, to see how the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department explains the legal requirement to re-bid a project which it had assured the council was well and fully engaged.

At stake, again, is the concern that has frequently occupied this column for years: the active refusal of the City to follow even its own compliance laws. Instead, the City maintains its own version of "shovel ready" projects: projects for which it is quick to use its "good faith shovel" to throw dirt on top of any Black opportunities and bury them.

So again we ask: How will the compliance revenue goals be obtained? What will be the actual dollar amount? Where will the inforcement come from?

In our estimation, the failure to provide quantitative response and documentation to the council should call for the resignation of all the principals involved, starting with the leadership of the Civil Rights Department. We wait with great interest to see how this matter is handled on July 20. In an election year, it speaks to the future relationship between voters of color and the standard bearers for the Democratic Party in November's elections.

But this compliance issue is not new, demonstrating again the need for an independent Black newspaper to print the truth while dailies continue to suppress. This paper has consistently printed stories as much as one to three years ahead of the White dailies. This is but one example; the same is true of recent stories on Fong Lee, City Heat, construction compliance, MPD discrimination, education, employment, and now the Civil Rights Department.

An example of what was first ignored by the White dailies is our July 19, 2006, column "The Continued Big Lies; Minneapolis at its Worst." See also (1) July 14, 2008, Solutions Section Paper #31: lists of columns dealing with such non-compliance; (2) July 31, 2008, Blog entry #21: Denying Discrimination and Misinforming the Black Community, and (3) June 26, 2009, Blog entry #6, SOLUTION PLANS FOR THE FUTURE (as planning for Blacks is all the rage), at the top of the right column of this web page.

It is because these truths are continually ignored or denied by official Minneapolis — city hall, the White dailies, corporations, the U of M, and both Black and White nonprofits — that I wrote my second book last year to expose it all again, a book whose title says it all: A Seat for Everyone.

Posted July 16, 2009, 4:52 a.m.
Originally posted at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on 7/15/2009

July 8, 2009 Column #26: Investigation of Mineapolis skinhead cops comes too late. The damage has been done.

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

Our column of January 2, 2008, was the Minneapolis Police Department's MPD's scorched-earth policy, followed on February 27, 2008, with our column on MPD involvement with neo-Nazi skinheads "City ignores signs of extremist danger"). In between, City Pages wrote February 19 of several brands of Twin City skinheads (see "Skins At 40").

Star Tribune? Silence. Pioneer Press? Silence.

Despite these revelations of the existence of a skinhead organization known as City Heat — a fraternal order of police officers from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and some jurisdictions in Wisconsin and Chicago, including pictures from their website that were later taken down — official Minneapolis went into denial.

The irony (tragedy?), as we have reported, is that some of the Minneapolis police officers selected by the Jewish Community Relations Council to attend events at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., every April, are skinheads.

In our February column, we revealed that police officers with strong neo-Nazi sentiments had positioned themselves to be selected for participation in this very sacred event. We took our information to a member of the Minneapolis City Council, Ralph Remington, hoping he would join in asking for an investigation of City Heat, its relationships, and particularly its philosophy on the issue of race.

Remington did nothing, as a White council member told him there was no validity to my concerns, despite the pictures and other evidence I presented of dangerous patterns and practices. Even more startling was the Jewish Community Relations Council breaking off discussions in February 2008 under apparent pressure from City Councilmember Goodman.

Then, a year later, March 2009, Ruben Rosario, staff writer for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, wrote a story discussing City Heat (Thin blue line appears blurred in biker clubs) and interviewed some of their members, who made some very chilling observations about race and law enforcement. Yet there was no concern expressed by the city council, or the mayor, or the chief. Business as usual continued.

Then, just weeks ago on June 10, James von Brunn, an 88-year-old virulently anti-Semitic White supremacist gunman fatally shot an African American security guard, a veteran just back from Iraq, inside the crowded U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The wounded von Brunn remains under guard in a Washington, D.C.-area hospital.

Even though not much has been reported since, we are learning that von Brunn is providing interesting information about his handlers. I'm sure it was not a coincidence that two weeks ago I learned that MPD's Internal Affairs Unit had been ordered to open and conduct an investigation of City Heat and its relationships, including with the MPD, and that I was asked by a high-ranking City official to provide pictures and other information related to City Heat.

Hence our question: An investigation? Why now? For what purpose in an environment of business as usual, where a blind eye is turned, the seeing eye winks, and the dismissal of the concerns of African Americans is the order of the day?

Of what value is this? The damage has been done. Its importance as an investigation was rejected as not necessary when this African American newspaper called its attention over a year ago. And had trials ensued from the recent lawsuits by Black Police Officers regarding the discrimination they have been under, this information would have been enormously important to show yet another source of discrimination in the MPD.

So again, our question: An investigation? Why now? For what purpose?

Von Brunn, age 88, shows and proves that the hot fires of hatred and racial animus burn long. It should concern all Americans. But concern is only shown when those affected are the right kind of people. Stay tuned.

Jordan out of Civil Rights?

Rumors continue to snake through the corridors of Minneapolis City Hall that Director Michael Jordan will be pushed out after the elections in November, and that a St. Paul woman has already been offered his position.

Why won't the mayor come clean with voters and the civil rights community before the votes are cast for mayor and city council in November? What is he trying to hide?

The council reviewed a recommendation for the future of the department this past Monday, July 6. Was everyone up to speed? Will there be business-as-usual shenanigans, or not? Stay tuned.

Plans for Black Minneapolis

To would-be planners for Minneapolis Blacks: See our proposals.

Posted 7-9-09, 9:23 a.m.
Originally posted at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on 7/8/2009

July 1, 2009 Column #25: The Withholding of Evidence in the matter of the wrongful death trial of Fong Lee

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

Two weeks ago, as the attorneys for the family of Fong Lee prepared their wrongful death suit appeal to the 8 th Circuit, a piece of information was revealed to them which raises serious questions about the violation of the rules of the Federal Court as it pertains to the withholding of evidence from plaintiffs.

In February 2008, African American Quince Williams was arrested on the street as a suspect in an armed robbery. During the course of the arrest, Mr. Williams was beaten and certain statements were made to him, all highlighted in the transcript of his July 2008 trial.

The white couple held up that night, when shown Mr. Williams, said he not only wasn't the perpetrator but that he didn't even fit the description they gave the police.

The transcript reveals that the prosecution stated Mr. Williams had a .38 caliber gun in his possession. Although Mr. Williams admits that he did have a small amount of crack cocaine in his possession, he says that he never had a handgun. If so, where did it come from?

The court transcript of July 2008, reveals Mr. Williams testified that after he was beaten the gun was planted on him by an officer then assigned to the Metropolitan Gang Task Force.

The sad and tragic irony is the following: the officer identified in testimony as having beaten Mr. Willams and then planting a gun on him was none other than Jason Anderson, who was decorated as a hero after shooting 19 year old Fong Lee in the back on a school play ground. Recall that the attorneys for the family of Fong Lee believe, from the evidence, that Jason Anderson dropped a gun by Fong Lee as well to justify shooting him eight times.

Irony turns to injustice when we realize the incident in the early part of 2008 and the trial of 2008, took place when Jason Anderson was being deposed in preparation for the May 2009 Fong Lee wrongful death trial.

When the Star Tribune did an overview in early 2009 of the upcoming Fong Lee wrongful death trial, it featured Officer Jason Anderson as a hero. Unbeknownst to the attorneys of the Fong Lee family, the Star Tribune purposefully suppressed the news that it knew: that Jason Anderson had been identified both prior to the trail and during the trial of Mr. Williams of July 2008, as the officer accused of planting the .38 caliber revolver on Mr. Williams.

Of course there is reason to believe that based on rulings since then by Federal Judge Paul Magnason, the attorneys for the family of Fong Lee would probably have been prohibited from introducing that evidence and testimony anyway. Even so, it raises serious questions about the intentional violations of the federal courts rulings and regulations with regard to the withholding of evidence and information from defense attorneys, whether during discovery or trial.

In that the Minneapolis Star Tribune had the information, their legal position would have been that they were not required to reveal it, a cowardly excuse for turning its back on justice. The City of Minneapolis and its lead attorney, Mr. Moore, also knowing about this, also turned their back on justice. They almost got away with it as this evidence would never have surfaced but for the fact that the law firm handling the appeal of the Fong Lee family is also handling the appeal of Mr. Williams, who is serving 2-5 years for possession of a .38 caliber gun and crack cocaine.

We wait to see how the 8 th Circuit Court of Appeals handles this during the two appeals. Stay tuned.

Urban League callously removed board member

Waves of shock and dismay swept across the corporate and Black arts communities at the removal of long time civic leader and philanthropist Roxanne Givens, who was removed from the Urban League Board because she missed four meetings during that tragic period in which she had lost her beloved daughter and was taking on the responsibility of raising the surviving grandchild. Everyone wants to keep it secret and not discuss it, but it was cold, callous, and calculated. Just as they did to DFL co-founder Nellie Stone Johnson. Stay tuned.

North High School Closed.

Just a question: what will be the future of NHS in the academic year of 2009-2010? Will it be a public high school or a charter school operating under the authority of a Dunwoody private charter or something else? Stay tuned.

Posted 7-8-09, 2:50 a.m.
Originally posted at Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder on 7/1/2009

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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