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2010 Columns
Quarter 2: April thru June ~ Columns #14 - #26

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June 30, 2010 Column #26: Obama vs. McChrystal: President takes the right action

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

When President Barack Obama summoned four-star General Stanley McChrystal back from his command in Afghanistan last week, it was clear the president made a decision that will forever mark him as a president who showed toughness, resoluteness and understanding, and that he was in complete control and command of the key issue that in the United States, per the Constitution, the civilian government runs the military and not vice versa.

Acting in accordance with Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, he did just as President Lincoln did with General McClelland and President Truman with General MacArthur: demonstrated that there are consequences for defying or undermining or disrespecting the chain of command (the latter is not inconsequential as it leads to the first two).

What will be interesting in the coming weeks, especially in light of the mean-spirited attacks on President Obama, will be how some on the far right will attempt to make Gen. McChrystal another Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Regardless, this is not a liberal/conservative or Republican/Democrat issue except for those who oppose the president anyway, as even conservative commentators, including some on FOX, understood this to be about, as Abbott and Costello would ask, “Who’s on first?” Even the joint chiefs of MacArthur had to admit his removal was correct “from a purely military point of view.”

Because some military have misperceived President Barack Obama as weak and indecisive, they have challenged him and civilian authority, General McChrystal among them, doing so on a number of occasions. More unforgiving and damaging, as the Rolling Stone profile reveals, McChrystal obviously encouraged his staff to do so as well.

Lest anyone forget, we live in the age of video conferencing. He was in constant contact with the president, the Pentagon, the National Security Agency and the State Department. He had many opportunities to make his case. His delusions that he could persuade the president, the Pentagon and the State Department by parading his complaints to Rolling Stone shows the truth of the old saying that pride (arrogance) comes before the fall.

In this drama, I’m reminded both of President Harry S. Truman vs. General Douglas MacArthur, a real event, and the fictional story of the general vs. the president in the movie Seven Days in May. Both portray a culture of civilian vs. military control. Despite his legendary and highly decorated service, neither General McChrystal nor any military officer is free to take liberties with the Constitution because of perceived self-importance as a commander.

Recall that in his confirmation hearings testimony, General McChrystal also took liberties with the truth regarding the case of Pat Tilman, the former Arizona Cardinal football player and a member of U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan, who was killed as a result of friendly fire.

General McChrystal and staff refused to acknowledge the six-star general called the commander in chief who resides in the president of the United States, whether Black or White, male or female.

So let us hope for the sake of this great nation, still involved in its longest war, that this doesn’t turn out to have been putting the race card into play by the military, because, unfortunately, there are a lot of Johnny Six Packs sitting in their basements or game rooms surrounded by their firearms who feel their man McChrystal has been wronged and that “justice” needs to be exacted.

We trust cooler heads will prevail. General McChrystal stepped over the line. By submitting his resignation before he met with the president, he passed on defending himself, which makes me wonder if he wasn’t signaling that he wanted out of a war he couldn’t figure out how to win.

However, his past service will be remembered positively as one whose footsteps walked the plains of West Point, a great warrior that except for Afghanistan will be remembered with fondness as a great patriot, as a four-star general, but one who, in the end, irreparably stepped over the line with his commander in chief.

The president successfully walked the high-wire act of standing up for civilian command by firing the out-of-line general while showing he knew what he was doing by placing General David Petraeus in command, avoiding sapping military morale or undermining the president’s/Pentagon’s/State Department policy.

Stay tuned.

View the complete EPI report at

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted Wed, Aug 4, 2010

June 23, 2010 Column #25: Shameful Black unemployment gap in Mpls gets silent treatment

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

A constant theme of this column has been the silence about the data and evidence I have presented regarding the effects of racism on Black education, Black jobs and Black housing. Various “establishments” of Black and White “community” leaders and organizations prefer silence. That silence was met with a loud reality explosion from a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study reported by the Star Tribune with the shocking headline, “Twin Cities has widest jobless gap by race.”

In the EPI’s words, the difference in Minneapolis “is the largest of all the nation's big cities, with blacks 3.1 times as likely as whites to be unemployed.” The EPI reports that “Minneapolis Black unemployment is at 20.4%;” and “white is 6.6%,” such that with a 14 percent gap, the “Minneapolis metropolitan area stands out as having the worst relative disparity.”

And although the EPI report states the well-known fact that “the more educated a population, the lower their unemployment rate,” racism pervades, as “even when we compare racial subgroups…Minneapolis…blacks with comparable levels of education as Whites are much more likely to be unemployed.”

This is one of the most damaging studies to Minnesota’s liberal self-perception since the 21-day Star Tribune series “Issues of Race,” June 10-24, 1990. That 1990 series included such headlines as “Few people of color shape policy in the state,” “Dark skin seen as a crime waiting to happen,” “In Minnesota, races are isolated from one another,” “Desegregation challenges city, suburban schools,” and “Race sets our agenda for life.”

This is 2010, 20 years later. Our problems today are because these headlines still apply. Why have we purposefully not applied our man-to-the-moon “can do” attitude? Answer: racism. See my February 18, 2009 column’s list of my key columns on Black employment exclusion and the silence about it.

Hopefully a conscience or two will be awakened by the EPI study, which has sent a shock wave rolling across the city (as seen in over 150 on-line comments about the article). The Star Tribune quoted a Minnesota Department of Economic Development and Employment spokesperson as saying that he was not surprised, that “There's always been a gap that's obviously persisted now for decades.”

What has surprised this columnist is the silence from both the left and the right, with the exception of Louis King, head of TCOIC, the traditional organization with a long history of receiving funding to address this jobless gap. He is quoted by the Star Tribune: "Some may want to deny it,” but “No matter what anyone says, the current practices are yielding the current results."

Other community leaders and organizations remain conspicuous by their absence and silence. We certainly assumed the Council on Black Minnesotans would have been one of the first to speak out, and would have revealed their own examination of this significant employment-by-race disparity, as this is their legislated task. So far, they have not.

Also troubling, besides the Star Tribune burying the story in the business section, is no mention of the testimony of the EPI president before Congress on June 9, who told Congress that the jobs crisis is "catastrophic" and that “We cannot accept the unacceptable.” That omission of this Congressional testimony itself smacks of another attempt to keep silent about an extremely embarrassing political and social disaster for the liberals who run Minneapolis.

Think about it, my friends: Here is confirmation by a very White, very liberal, public policy institute of what I have been writing in these columns for many years about the pressure to cover up and to mute a policy, politically and otherwise, that has reinforced segregation by exclusion in the schools, segregation by exclusion from communities, and obviously segregation by exclusion from the workplace and business ownership.

The EPI states the obvious, that the American economy is in desperate need of more job creation as soon as possible. Less obvious is the “how” of getting left and right to set aside their petty “exclusion of the other” politics and work together to get a balance between private investment and tax incentives, and a balance between private and public sector jobs.

Clearly this is one of the most shameful chapters in the history of liberal consideration and liberal concerns. Once again the African American population has been violated and seemingly no one cares, whether government or private, Black or White.

When you compare 1990 with 2010, it appears that we’ve gone from separate but equal to separate and excluded. Stay tuned.

View the complete EPI report at

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted Wed, Aug 4, 3:36 a.m.

June 16, 2010 Column #24: MN Attorney General was supposed to monitor Twins stadium hiring

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

Has the law been ignored in the matter of Minnesota Statute 473.754?

Last week, this pa per ran an article with the headline, “City confirms ballpark minority hiring goals met.” Why has the old staff of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department led the new director to say such a thing when it has no proof or jurisdiction or authority to affirm compliance? As stated by Minnesota Statute 473.754, the legislature has given the power to so affirm not to the City but to the State Attorney General.

At issue is the ongoing controversy involving Target Field, the Minnesota Baseball Authority, Mortenson Construction, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department — and, thus, the City of Minneapolis.

Minnesota Statute 473.754 was passed by the Minnesota legislature in order to help guarantee significant participation of minority workers in the building of Target Field. The Ballpark Authority was well aware of the Minnesota statute and its obligation to that statute. So why did the City ignore it?

On pages two and six of a document in response to a complaint filed by this journalist in August of 2007, the attorneys for the Ballpark Authority set out in specific terms who the authority was in authenticating, auditing and reporting all functions pertaining to the construction of Target Field: the state AG.

The Ballpark Authority specifically stated that the sole responsible government entity to confirm if goals were met and if the law was adhered to is the Attorney General of the State of Minnesota. In fact, in the document delivered to this journalist dated September 4, 2007, the attorneys were explicit in their declaration of who the absolute authority was, under color of law, to confirm, reaffirm, and authenticate all data, including but not limited to underutilization, hours worked, contracts awarded, dollars paid out, etc.

In fact, in their September 4 declaration, the Ballpark Authority attorneys pointed out that they had in fact met with Attorney Gen Swanson and specifically discussed the statutory requirements under Minnesota Statute 473.754, and that Attorney General Swanson had appointed a Deputy Attorney General to monitor the Ballpark Authority.

They went on to say that the City would be acting outside its jurisdiction in attempts to affirm what only the State can affirm. That leads me to ask this question: Did the State Attorney General abdicate responsibility and assign that State obligation to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, or did the department act on its own under the belief that either no one would notice or no one would care?

Asked more forcefully: How did the City, by an administrative act, give jurisdiction to itself over the Ballpark Authority and Target Field in direct contravention of the statutory responsibility assigned by the Minnesota legislature to the Minnesota Attorney General? When, how and where was this announcement published?

These questions raise the serious and obvious issue of the credibility of the Department of Civil Rights, again, and, for the first time, of its new director. We doubt that the AG of the State of Minnesota deferred its administrative review under the color of law to an agency that has no jurisdiction without notifying the Minnesota legislature in order to make absolutely sure that the deferring of that statutory responsibility was well published and well known.

Our main question continues to go unanswered: What number of hours can the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department compliance specialists verify, specialists who were supposed to be on site at Target Field during the project, and particularly on the date of the signing of the contract reflected in the story reported in the June 10 edition of this paper?

The key document, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Professional Agreement with the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, was presumably executed because there were no City dollars involved in the construction project and the City therefore had no jurisdiction. That rationale flies in the face of a $200 million project at the University of Minnesota’s Fairview Children’s Hospital with no City dollars that is being monitored by the City.

Which scenario should we believe? Again, millions of dollars are involved, and again, the African American community has been frozen out of them.

I invite you to review the statute. As you do so, know that the Civil Rights Department has shredded many documents. Ask for the document of September 4, 2007, that addresses my complaints against ongoing discrimination and asking who authorized the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to say that minority hiring goals had been met when this was not true.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

June 16, posted August 3, 2010, 11:25 a.m.

June 09, 2010 Column #23: As violence continues, City officials and community ‘leaders’ are clueless

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

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

At about 10:20 pm Friday, May 28, gunfire rang out along the 4800 block of Aldrich Ave. North, resulting in the loss of another young African American life, Cedric Renard Hunter. He tried to be a peacemaker, tried to make a difference, only to be shot and killed when the targeted person was missed.

Within 20 minutes a crowd of nearly 100 gathered. There was anger, the kind I wrote of in my April 7 column on Kenneth Sims’ shooting. Order was maintained and the calming response of Mr. Hunter’s father and that of the police chaplain stabilized the situation.

After the medical examiner arrived and took Cedric Hunter’s body away, his father and family turned to the neighborhood seeking answers. They found them.

Mr. Hunter’s father called homicide detectives at 11:04 am Monday, May 31, to give them the name of his son’s shooter and a description of what happened.

As of the writing of this column Wednesday evening, June 2, Minneapolis homicide detectives are still rebuffing this father, treating him as an insignificant stranger (and then they wonder why the community doesn’t come forward with information). Mr. Hunter’s father had to reach out elsewhere for help to get the importance of the information he gave to them accepted and acted upon.

The shooter, still on our streets, sent a text message to another individual indicating he would still attempt to kill the person he had tried to shoot earlier, when he accidentally shot his friend, if he ran across his target on his way out of town.

The goal of the police and the City has not been truth, but rather concocting a story to cover their inability to identify suspects in killings. They even tried to lead a reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune to believe they had it all figured out, that Mr. Hunter’s death was gang related, the result of his involvement the week before in the shooting death of Derek Martin in South Minneapolis.

The police knew this was false. They told this slanderous story about Mr. Hunter and ignored the information from Mr. Hunter’s father to provide cover for both the mayor and his police. I learned this from both the reporter and the father.

The blaming of an earlier unsolved shooting on the victim of the latest shooting is a blatant attempt to justify asking for more money to spend departmentally and for community cronies, without having to present a plan for how and why and on whom it will be spent.

The series of meetings over the holidays of representatives of the mayor’s office with so-called community leaders, as well as meetings Saturday, Tuesday and Thursday morning last week, don’t hide the fact that the mayor has no plan. Nor do the so-called leaders know who is who or what is going on.

I asked what the plan was in my March 17 column, as I do yearly. I listed a catalog of shootings March 24 and asked again. From the mayor and his so-called leaders we have those who talk a good game, but they know little about what is going on and are not known for being successful in any kind of meaningful intervention on the streets of our city.

I assume that by the time this column is published, we will have heard all kinds of announcements regarding the four major gangs of the city of Minneapolis. They will be false.

These young men and women know that structural racism leaves the city no incentives to offer them, only the disparities in education, jobs and opportunities. Will they be offered jobs? Economic uplifting? No. And we in the community will suffer more as a result.

Now we see why the corruption and subsequent disbanding of the Metro Gang Strike Force (see my column of 9-2-09) was significant (with the MPD chief being rewarded with a contract renewal).

We are left with one absolute: a father lost his only son, went out to investigate, determined the facts, identified the killer, and reported this to the police, only to see his efforts and passion dismissed as insignificant and his son slandered. As I have written before about the Justice Taney doctrine, in some minds of the City and the police, they are not required legally or morally to honor in any way the “rights” of African Americans.

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted June 9, 2010, 11:33 p.m.

June 02, 2010 Column #22: Murder On The Parkway

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

Twenty-year-old African American gunned down.

Ambushed. At least 20 shots fired. Another young African American male, 20-year-old Derek Martin, lost his life Monday night last week along scenic Lake Calhoun in South Minneapolis: dead on the parkway. And this time Whites cared, because they were scared, because a nearby high-rise apartment building with White residents was hit at least five times, with bullets going through living room and bedroom windows.

Five days earlier, along the 3300 block of Russell Avenue North, two young African American men were tied up and executed. The news account was brief.

The mayor called no meetings. Community leadership called no meetings. No Whites were scared, so no Whites cared.

The scenario in the death of Mr. Martin is a well-known one to those of us in Black America: When an African American loses his life and the African American community feels threatened it doesn’t matter. Basically nothing is said or done by the political class, the White media, and others. When African Americans lose their life in a White, upscale community, the definition changes as Whites call a state of emergency, leaving precinct inspectors quoted as saying, “We will patrol the streets with vigor and we will seek out the perpetrators.”

This is an ominous double standard: Blacks killed equals no big deal, versus Whites feel endangered equals a big deal. I appreciate that the White community feels threatened, but so do Blacks.

Unappreciated is Whites ignoring when gunfire rings out in African American communities, on both the North and South Side, leaving young men or women killed or wounded, and only getting concerned when bullets reach their neighborhoods. The African American community understands this double standard promotes violating the “equal protection clause” of the 14th Amendment, as White life is treated as more equal than Black life.

In the Fourth Precinct of North Minneapolis, Inspector Mike Martin, when he can be found, says nothing. The White newspaper gives it a one-day coverage.

Yet when an African American three weeks ago shot two females, killing one, and later killed two White males in two different suburbs before committing suicide, there was continuous discussion and analysis, emphasizing the Black guy equals bad and his White victims equal good. In truth, many Black victims of violence are good too.

Upon closer examination of that triple homicide, of course, a lot of questions about conduct and relationships were raised. When a Black allegedly shot and killed a White Maplewood police officer, there was again a thorough examination while there was little examination or reflection about the two African Americans mentioned above who, in a house in North Minneapolis, were tied up, tortured and killed execution style, with shots to the head.

This comes as the African American fire chief of the Minneapolis Fire Department is stripped of his administrative ability to preside over Minneapolis fire inspections (I will report later about the race card being played against Chief Alex Jackson to falsely discredit him, as this column’s focus is on the gang warfare on our streets that threatens both Whites and Blacks and causes fear in both, but with protective moves reserved for Whites).

Some refer to Minneapolis as the Kingston, Jamaica of the North. The community deserves better. It must demand better. It must demand equal protection under the law.

It is clear that the slogan on the sides of Minneapolis patrol cars, “To Protect and Serve,” does not apply to Black citizens. What should be on the door is “To Disrespect and Ignore.” That would better support the Minnesota version of Justice Taney’s doctrine that the Negro has no rights, legally, morally, or otherwise in terms of receiving equal protection under the color of law.

We bury a young man of color. The White community is not disturbed. There should be concern upon the death of each and every human being. “Protect and Serve” all.

In earlier columns we warned against the mayor’s inaccurate self-congratulations for what he called a drop in crime. Does he also, then, get credit for the rise in deaths caused in these gang wars?

As stated on my new blog talk-radio show, On Point, Toni Morrison has dramatically pointed out that Black people cannot be victims of such an “enormous amount of violence…without the complicity of the people who run the schools and the city.”
Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010, 6:06 p.m.

May 26, 2010 Column #21: Construction of new MPS headquarters promises jobs for Blacks. Who will ensure that this promise is kept?

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

For three weeks now, much discussion has taken place within the leadership communities of the Minneapolis Public Schools District (MPS), Minneapolis City Hall, the general contractor (Mortenson), and, of course, within the African American community touting the construction of the new MPS headquarters in North Minneapolis as one of the great economic success stories of modern times.

Really? It can only be considered so if the hiring goals of MPS’s own documents are met. These goals are:

I also ask: What is going to be done to make sure “minorities” includes African Americans?

The MPS also identifies Section 139.50 of the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances as the beacon that will guide them towards economic uplifting. That section of the code addresses the types of information that the contractor will be expected to provide in certifying hours worked, persons working those hours, social security numbers of those workers, and the amount of federal and state withholding taxes.

The MPS indicates, “If the above goals are not realistic for the project, the contractor can establish goals for that project to be justified by the type of work and available work for that project.”

Consider these three points:

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that unqualified Blacks do exist. That is why African Americans are not hired (and public education has a lot to do with this). But, Dr. King also quickly added that they are “qualifiable.” Why, after all these decades, isn’t real-world training of the “qualifiable” for work on these major construction projects part of preconstruction plans?
  2. As the local Black population has more than doubled since 1996, how can mandated percentages based on 1996 numbers be considered fair when there has been no disparity study since 1996?
  3. Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan said in his April 18, 2008 letter to the city council that a new disparity study would be completed by December 10, 2008, by National Economic Research, Inc., doing business at 1015 E. 39th St., Austin, Texas, in a $424,950 contract. Why, a year and a half later, is it still not completed?

Mortenson is extremely familiar with the process; it is the same language used for the construction of Target Field. Yet, certification of payroll information, personnel names, and Social Security numbers cannot be found to certify the Target Field numbers. What is MPS doing to make sure this is not repeated with their HQ construction?

In a previous column, I analyzed Mortenson’s final Target Field report submitted to the Ballpark Authority. The MPS has indicated aggressive expectations in hiring compliance by the general contractor, Mortenson, for the district’s new headquarters in the 1200 block of West Broadway in North Minneapolis.

And yet Mortenson can’t verify/certify any of the statistical measures of compliance it claims for Target Field. Who will ensure accountability of Mortenson and Legacy for the new MPS building? The Minneapolis Civil Rights Department?

I again recommend requiring Mortenson and Legacy to post a bond equal to the cost of the project to make them accountable, using it as an incentive to meet the goals or, if necessary, as a penalty if they fail to meet the goals.

It is rumored, as this column goes to press, that the MPS and the general contractor are still negotiating and discussing final points of contract expectations. The statutes and law parts are not negotiable.

Will the concerns of the two school board members remaining after November be satisfied, concerns that include cost overruns, additional funding, and completing the $30 million project if the State of Minnesota does not pay back in a timely manner the $48 million diverted from the school district (by law) due to the budget shortfall? Yes, leaders of both parties at the end of the just-ended legislative sessions said that the monies would be returned — but will they? An unimpeded construction schedule and a timely meeting of payments are required under the law.

I look forward to the 500 jobs that will be made available to the African American community thanks to this project. Many political players say that they are “at the table,” whatever that means. Which among them agrees to be held responsible for the success or failure of this project meeting its hiring goals?

And by the way, where is the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted May 26, 2010, 1:44 a.m.

May 19, 2010 Column #20: Another Minneapolis contract snubs Black community. Will new Minneapolis School District headquarters repeat the pattern of falsehoods and corruption?

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

In my May 14, 2008 column, I discussed the April 18, 2008 report issued by then-Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan that 53 percent of the actual participation on reported construction sites were persons of color. I asked “How?” given that the report stated that $342,140,673.24 had been awarded in contracts in the first quarter of 2008, while only $5,710,269.88 had been allocated to the minority community.

Jordan’s claim could not be substantiated because the required ongoing audits were not conducted. When I filed a civil rights complaint on August 2, 2007 (MCRD File # A6385-BS-1F-7), it was later dismissed on the grounds that that I lacked standing to have brought this civil rights complaint. The department hid behind this technicality to ignore its job to monitor compliance.

These were not isolated events. For example, in 2006 a very courageous civil rights official in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights, Eddie Calderone, was ordered to embark on a plan of treachery against the civil rights ordinances.

Mr. Calderone was ordered to certify as authentic the employment compliance numbers provided by Standard Sidewalk. Since then, Mr. Calderone has become the target of threats and acts of intimidation that have made his life a living hell.

For 35 years, this man has attempted to maintain the office’s honesty and dignity. It is clear, given such orders in the department, that there are City officials for whom the corruption of false civil rights reports is OK, as Standard Sidewalk again provides us a good example.

On April 12, 2010, officials of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, in direct violation of their own internal rules as well as state and federal law, stated that Standard Sidewalk had made a “good faith effort to hire and retain persons of color” for their $1,914,600 contract. How could this be when only $500 of that $1.9 million went to the African American community?

Add women’s enterprises and the number is still low at $14,500. So much for the Civil Rights Department’s claim, in testimony before the city council, that they have an automatic failsafe to flag any project that drops below minority hiring goals of two percent.

Standard Sidewalk stands as a prime example of the statement “no bananas” for economic uplift for the African American community.

Eight days ago I approached the office of Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, Democrat, Eighth Ward, in yet another attempt to get the City to examine these practices that the council and its members seem inclined to ignore.

Despite recent statements by the so-called African American leadership with regards to economic opportunity for African Americans, the fact remains that when it counts they stand silent, as they did most recently on the just-opened Twins Target Field, and now do so again regarding the new $35 million Minneapolis Public School District headquarters building construction project.

The new MPS headquarters is slated for construction on the 1200 block of West Broadway, with Mortenson as the prime developer and contractor that again denies economic uplift for the African American community.

On page five of the referenced April 18, 2008 report, the promise was made to have the disparity studied, with a report completed and presented by the end of 2008. It was not completed and cannot be completed, as no audit was conducted that could authenticate the numbers. Is it any wonder new Civil Rights Department Director Velma Korbel stated in this paper last week that a top objective of hers is for the department to regain the respect of the community? Not if it is business as usual.

With the Standard Sidewalk example and the upcoming MPS headquarters project, she gets a chance to see just how truthful her new department heads are. We’ll get a chance to see whether or not she means it when she says she will make the department “productive, responsive, reliable” with “transparency” in terms of the City’s “contract compliance ordinance.”

We wish her well. We agree with her that “every kid” should have “an equal shot at going to a good school” and that “every head of household” should be able to “get a good job.” Will she bring her civil rights experience to bear on education and construction jobs, or go along with her staff that all that is required is make up reports that no one really cares are false and hide gross civil rights violations.

Until then, there will be no opportunity, no future for our young people. Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted 5-19-10, 11:51 p.m.
Posting glitches. Re-Posted 5-25-10, 11:30 a.m.

May 12, 2010 Column #19: City failed to monitor hiring during Twins stadium construction

May 12, 2010, Column #19,
"Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues"
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

How many ‘ghosts’ were paid instead of claimed Black workers?

Time line:
August 3, 2007:
I filed civil rights complaint, MDCR File # A6392-BS-1F-7.

June 12, 2008: I was told my August 2007 complaint was dismissed due to MDCR (Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights) lack of jurisdiction.

July 18, 2008: I vigorously opposed the breaking of employment compliance law to the Ball Park Authority while the MDCR allowed the Mortenson Construction Company to self-report (like putting the fox in charge of the lock on the hen house door).

May 3, 2010: I went in person to talk to the MDCR about employment compliance law violations.

The Civil Rights Complaint that I filed August 3, 2007, spoke to the existence of serious civil rights violations in the construction of Target Field. The MDCR had just accepted a contract from the Ball Park Authority to monitor and authenticate compliance with federal and state statutes regarding hiring minorities.

Keep that in minds, my friends. The MDCR agreed to protect the applications of the statutes of the laws of the State of Minnesota. And then didn’t.

My filing spoke to a series of law violations, including “pass throughs” (dummy corporations set up identifying either persons of color or White females as minority companies doing business on projects).

I also cited the serious abuses of “ghosts.” In the business of “pass throughs,” “ghosts” are identified by the number of skilled and unskilled workers on the job who do not really exist. This practice of “ghosts” is normally guarded against through quarterly payroll reviews, payrolls that are supposed to include the names of the workers and their Social Security numbers. My August 3, 2007, filing identified the pattern of utilizing “ghosts.”

On June 12, 2008, 10 months after filing this complaint, I was told it was dismissed because the MDCR suddenly determined it did not have jurisdiction to protect the rights of the affected class and did not have the jurisdiction to protect existing federal and state statutes. That is like announcing the “right” to steal.

They took 10 months to say what they could have said in 10 days. Note this: The MDCR did not return the money paid them by the Ball Park Authority, meaning the taxpayers of the State of Minnesota were also fleeced in addition to those jobs going to “ghosts” rather than to actual African Americans.

One month after the case was dismissed, on July 18, 2008, in a meeting of the Ball Park Authority, the MDCR directed the then-director of construction compliance, James Patterson, to tell the Ball Park Authority that the Department was too overwhelmed with cases to be able to monitor, recommending Mortenson be allowed to self-report — another recipe for disaster.

To authenticate this, see the July 18, 2008, Ball Park Authority agenda, Item 9A, “Community Participation Update,” and its Mortenson report entitled “SWMBE [Small Women Minority Business Enterprises] Participation Summary.” In a later column, I will talk about the report’s data.

On Monday, May 3, 2010, I met with the MDCR to ask about certain inconsistencies in the Mortenson participation summaries, and asked if they had reviewed the payroll reports of the MBE (Minority Business Enterprises). I was told they were informed that the MDCR does not review nor check names or Social Security numbers assigned to the payroll records, which is what opens the door for “ghosts,” nonexistent “persons” who receive large sums of money.

I detailed “pass through” practices in my August 2007 filing, as well as at the July 18, 2008, meeting. I vigorously protested the capitulation to allow Mortenson to self-report. But powerful forces were at work. Money was being spread around. Envelopes were being passed back and forth. Corruption, Minneapolis style, was at play.

$37 million is said to have gone to minority firms (that means race), with $71 million going to White female firms, for a total of $108 million, and yet no one can produce the payroll payouts which are tied to the contracts awarded. Mortenson says 2,038,000 hours were worked by racial minorities and White females; yet, as of the writing of this column, no one has been able to produce the pay slips nor the names and Social Security numbers of those who allegedly benefited from $108 million in contracts and payoffs.

You can figure it out. Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted 5-12-10, 3:18 a.m.

May 05, 2010 Column #18: An ‘Economic Uplift’

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

School district headquarters to be built in North Minneapolis

The lack of Black contractors and workers on the TCF Gopher stadium laid bare the University of Minnesota’s refusal to comply with hiring compliance laws.

We saw hiring refusal laid bare again at the Twins Target Field construction. What will the school district do?

“Refusal to comply” describes the reality of “no attempt.” “Failure to comply” masks the refusal by suggesting attempt was made. Slavery was a refusal to comply with the “inalienable rights” of our founding documents. Jim Crow was a refusal to comply with the Great Emancipation. No hiring compliance is a refusal to provide equal access and equal opportunity.

Will the Minneapolis Special School District One break this pattern of refusal by including Blacks in its $27.5 million headquarters building construction project in North Minneapolis it approved five-to-two last week? Or will the move from its 50-year-old White N.E. Minneapolis headquarters be another slap to North Minneapolis by providing only White economic uplift?

Mortenson, developer/construction manager, and Legacy Development, sub-contractor/developer, both parade as bringers of diverse economic uplift.

Off the parade route they routinely refuse economic uplift to people of color.

Remember the former director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s infamous statement: Minneapolis could meet its minority hiring compliance without hiring a single Black person? How? White women classified as minority combined with submitting false compliance figures.

Mortenson’s March 16, 2010 letter to the Ball Park Authority claims diversity success: Of $314 million in contracts awarded on Target Field, $108 million was to small businesses and to businesses of women and minority firms, of which $38 million was awarded to women business enterprises (WBEs) and minority business enterprises (MBEs). Lynn Littlejohn’s Mortenson letter shows that Calvin Littlejohn’s Tri Construction, located at 1200 West Broadway, received the largest African American contract, a little over $2.1 million.

Hispanic and Native American firms did better. Nordic Construction, which claims to be Hispanic, received $6.3 million.

Mortenson’s March 16, 2010 letter claims 2,038,000 hours logged in by WBEs and MBEs. Really? Then why isn’t there a roster of the workers listing as required by law, their names, residence addresses, and social security numbers?

Mortenson’s parade of claimed compliance is like the parading emperor wearing no clothes, as Mortenson wears no proof by audit, authentication or certification. Now that the Twins have their new toy, Target Field, and all is well in their Camelot, will we again get a “so what” about deteriorated North Minneapolis? We look to the Minneapolis Special School District to model compliance by tearing down this wall of refusal.

We are told the school district’s $27.5 million HQ construction project will be different. At the school board meeting last Wednesday, April 28, 2010, Fifth Ward Council Member Don Samuels talked about the significant “economic uplift” that it would bring the community.

In light of the University and Mortenson’s refusals, now is the time for the school district to outline how it will demonstrate compliance with audit, authentication and certification of the work force utilization commitment in terms of the percentage of African American skilled and unskilled jobs on their project.

One of the most important aspects of getting a disadvantaged community involved in the fruits of success is a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA).

I am surprised one has not been proposed.

The Northside Redevelopment Council proposed a CBA for the massive rebuilding program and research facility that was going to come to North Minneapolis — proposed but not done. But the idea kept the community at bay.

To prevent another naked emperor parade, I am proposing the school district require Ms. Littlejohn’s Mortenson Construction company and Legacy Development subcontractor post a surety bond guaranteeing the meeting of these goals equal to the cost of the project. Failure to meet the goals would cause the bonds to be forfeited and placed into a community education trust fund for children of color so they too can enjoy the project’s economic uplift.

A bond to be put up by the NAACP for the Holman Project of McCormick Barron of St. Louis, MO was stipulated by the federal court to protect the developer on that private project. The NAACP didn’t have the money then. For this public project, I propose the developer’s surety bond be posted to protect the community’s “uplift.”

There is history to be made here to allow children to be educated and parents to be employed. What better way to initiate true economic uplift in our time?

Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted 5-5-10, 11: 20 pm

April 28, 2010 Column #17: Why the rush to judgment on tragic April 2 fire?

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

Those eager to fix the blame on Black department leadership should be ashamed

The Star Tribune and certain Minneapolis City Council members act as if this is 1906 San Francisco, when 30 fires destroyed 25,000 buildings on 490 city blocks, killing 3,000, or 1871 Chicago, when 17,500 buildings and over 2,000 acres of the city burned to the ground, with 300 losing their lives.

When it is said that the tragic fire of April 2, 2010, that destroyed a building and took six lives is the worst in 24 years (when there was in fact one far worse), we should be reminded of how great the service of our Minneapolis Fire Department is.

But for some opportunistic politicians and the opportunistic Star Tribune, this is a chance to use this tragedy to scapegoat the fire department’s Black leadership and try to roll back civil rights gains obtained during the 20 years a federal oversight committee evaluated the department.

I know. I served on that committee. I never missed a meeting. I know just how good this department is.

In this period of anti-Obamaism, it is clear that some have decided the Minneapolis Fire Department leadership would be an easy mark to use as a steppingstone to desired political office. They could not be more wrong.

All the Star Tribune and City Council Member Gary Schiff (DFL, Ninth Ward) have managed to do as shameless, vocal town criers against the department’s Chief Jackson, Assistant Chief Penn, and Fire Marshall Tyner, all African Americans, is get egg on their faces.

And although I appreciate the fact that Mayor R.T. Rybak has stood strong in his support of his chief and the department, it is time for the city council and certain City departments to support them as well.

The entire fire department personnel, Black and White, is furious that the department is being painted as comprised of incompetent, uncaring firefighters who don’t know their jobs. This is an affront to their individual and collective professionalism. The leadership is held in high regard by the department.

We are now learning that Chief Jackson did every thing he could to clarify questions asked by the media and elected politicians. But that isn’t enough for those who already know the false scapegoat statements they want to promote.

Racism not only enables reaching conclusions without the facts; it also entails purposefully ignoring the facts. I can only conclude from the report of Minnesota State Fire Marshal Jerry Rosendahl that the Star Tribune and Council Member Gary Schiff are suffering from self-inflicted “wounds” to their credibility.

In his letter to Chief Jackson, of which I have a copy, and which the Star Tribune was forced to report last Wednesday the 21st, Rosendahl does not criticize the fire department’s performance, although clearly the Star Tribune and Schiff thought he would. But that is one of the high costs of racism: loss of objectivity along with an inability to see the real world as it is.

Rosendahl said the City should increase its code inspection frequency.

His recommendation that the buildings with dual use — apartments and commercial tenants — be inspected at the same time, not separately, is a policy Chief Jackson implemented last year. For the department to make more frequent inspections, the City will have to provide the resources, manpower and budget that will enable it to do so.

The state fire marshal concluded that the department has done a “thorough” job and that existing protocols have been followed.

Developing these procedures and recommending funding and resources for more inspections is the responsibility of the city council and the Department of Regulatory Services.

The council has yet to provide such additional needed resources.

Missing in all of this is an appreciation of the heroics of the firefighters.

Eight almost died in the April 2 fire when they entered the burning building to rescue those inside. Only their training and quick reactions saved their lives.

Indeed, so sure was Chief Jackson of their performance that he became the first fire department chief in the state to request that the state fire marshal do a department review. Rosendahl obviously approved of his actions: “I commend you and Fire Marshal Brian Tynor for making this request to us. This type of transparency in government is especially critical in the interest of public safety.”

The state fire marshal points out on pages seven and eight of his report that, in terms of apartment fire deaths and fire death rates, the Minneapolis Fire Department is operating better than the national average. For this we should be thankful, not critical.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted April 28, 2010, 11:56 p.m.

April 21, 2010 Column #16: What would Kirby say?

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

No stadium hiring report leaves serious questions unanswered

What would the legendary Kirby Puckett, the greatest player in Minnesota Twins history, the man who led them to win the World Series in 1987 and 1991, say about the fact that there was no commitment to put Black people to work on Target Field as workers or contractors?

What would Kirby say about the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department’s shameless act of betrayal, openly violating the statutes by telling the prime contractor, Mortenson, to self-report false numbers to mask the lack of Black workers and contractors for the House that Kirby Built?

Such Twins greats as Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Tony Oliva understood, as men of color, the importance of opportunity and inclusion for all.

Their accomplishments remind us of what Minneapolis officials deny the city when they deny men and women of color opportunity and inclusion.

This past Monday, I spoke directly with Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Deputy Director Marvin Taylor. There is no data. There is no report. Where did the Black “leaders” get their information when they claimed that they “worked with others to negotiate successfully with the Twins Stadium of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to subcontractors in our community?”

Mr. Taylor indicated to me that the situation is so serious with respect to the lack of numbers that the department presented a deadline for the report to be completed. I doubt it can or will be done. The serious consequences I have warned for ignoring Mortensen’s hiring practices on the baseball stadium (see last week’s column as well as past columns) will come to pass.

When I spoke to the office of Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, DFL, Eighth Ward, who has a large Black constituency, I asked whether or not she was aware that there was no report, and that Mortensen was allowed to self-report, a violation of all existing statutes — federal, state, county and municipal.

I’m still waiting for a response.

The Black community has been outrageously lied to in a calculated, premeditated manner to cover the purposeful circumventing of statutes in order to block access and opportunity for people of color. I now understand the rumors swirling around city hall that Michael Jordan lost his position as director of the Civil Rights Department because he lied about this situation and the lack of data.

From July 2008 until August 2009, no one was assigned to obtain the information, nor to certify the information, nor to protect the rights and franchise of workers and subcontractors of color. Will incoming Director Korbel be able to set things right? Does she want to? Will the mayor let her? Will the council demand it, or cover it with more covers?

In July 2008, I addressed the City’s capitulations in violation of its own statutes at the meeting of the ballpark authority after the City’s contract compliance manager, James Patterson, told them he was ordered to allow Mortensen to self-report. I knew that my speaking would be to no avail,
as the City would continue to violate its own statutes. The fix was in.

Kirby would not have thought well of or very kindly about his organization allowing this to happen. They turned and looked the other way as African Americans were denied access to the well-paying jobs of Target Field construction and millions of dollars in subcontracts. Again — see my past columns on this as it pertains to the Gophers’ stadium.

All of the new park’s ceremony and merrymaking and self-congratulations won’t hide the tarnishing of the legacy of a great team and its great leader, Kirby Puckett. They have been tarnished not because of anything they did, but because of the Twins’ disrespect of a community Kirby deeply loved and respected.

Kirby, if he were alive, would not have remained silent about this disrespect and dismissal of the African American community locked out of contracts and jobs for building Target Field. He would also have cast a jaundiced eye on the credit falsely asserted by self-proclaimed Black leaders.

Someone needs to tell public officials, Minnesota Twins, and the self-proclaimed Black leadership that someone on high, in the name of Kirby Puckett and others, has just thrown strike three and they didn’t even see the pitch go past them.

How I yearn for the emergence of true leaders like Cecil Newman, Nellie Stone Johnson and Hubert Humphrey, leaders who like them will uphold the integrity of Minneapolis. I don’t think that the incoming civil rights director understands that the third-strike pitch was thrown as she came to the plate. Who will stand up for us?
Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted 4-21-10, 9:15 p.m.

April 14, 2010 Column #15: New Leadership Announced for Minneapolis Civil Rights Department. Is the Department Ready?  Was the Twins Stadium a Compliance Success?

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

Can the new director show us how the Twins stadium brought ‘hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars’ to subcontractors in our Black community?

The question mark in the sub-headline of this column reflects the debate and sharp exchange in this newspaper between Booker Hodges in his H.I.T. column and the COBC/AALS (Coalition of Black Churches/African American Leadership Summit).

Included in the exchange was reference by the COBC/AALS to the hiring compliance of African American community contractors and workers in the construction of the Twins stadium.

On April 6, the mayor announced that Velma Korbel, Minnesota Department of Human Rights director, would accept the appointment as the next director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department (the sixth under Rybak). We urge her to release the Twins stadium hiring compliance figures so we can all be one big happy community family again.

From this debate, can we assume that one of outgoing director Michael Jordan’s last acts must have been to release copies of the two-year monitoring report on the Twins stadium to the COBC/AALS, and thus to the Minneapolis City Council and the Office of the Mayor as well?

We ask because COBC/AALS reported last week in this newspaper that they worked to successfully negotiate with Mortensen Construction to obtain “hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars” for subcontractors and workers in our community.

I’m sure when the new civil rights director releases the report, the debate will end as she clears up how it was done, who did it, and who certified its numbers, not to mention laying to rest the rumor that the department, contrary to law, delegated the compliance report to Mortensen despite the grant of $100,000 to do the study itself. This will answer the naysayers.

How did Mortensen deal with the difficulty of finding qualified minority subcontractors and workers for both the Twins stadium and the Gophers stadium? This knowledge can ensure that there will be qualified Black contractors and workers for the just-announced “biggest highway-construction season in MnDOT history” of “283 construction projects totaling $1.3 billion.”

This will enable the African American community to sing “Happy days are here again.” I look forward to reading the hiring compliance reports on these projects as well.

I appealed to our two African American state representatives to obtain from the University of Minnesota their audited and certified figures with respect to the Gophers stadium (in my November 4, 2009 column). Even though that has not happened yet, we assume such a certification will take place soon. See also my 2010 column of Jan. 13, and my 2009 columns of Feb. 18 (which lists eight other columns), Feb. 25 and Nov. 4.

The praise of Mortensen’s success bringing jobs and contracts to African Americans made by the COBC/AALS at the Minneapolis Public School Board meeting on April 6 must mean the figures for both the Gophers’ and Twins’ stadiums have been audited, authenticated, and certified. Doesn’t their praise mean that the COBC/AALS has in its possession the documentation of the Mortensen diversity compliance success that they praise?

That just makes good sense, my friends. Just think of it: hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars to subcontractors and workers in our community. All that is needed to clear up this debate is to release the report showing when the final figures were given to the Civil Rights Department, who audited them, and who certified the accuracy of such numbers as actual hours for skilled and unskilled labor (as opposed to just the number of days on which they worked).

The report should also document the dollar amount paid to minority subcontractors and the dates these minority contractors were certified by the City of Minneapolis as having submitted their own private audits, as required by law.

How wonderful, in these tough economic times, that at least the Twins stadium provided hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars for contractors and workers in our community. Of course, if the documentation is not in place, there are some serious questions and declarations that must be answered to the African American community that allegedly was a part of this success story.

The Fair Employment Practices Act became law in Minnesota on April 15, 1955 (with significant support of Republicans Al Quie, Luther Youngdahl, and Elmer Andersen, who all became governors). When Nellie Stone Johnson first proposed the Fair Employment Practices Act in the 1940s, Black organizations opposed it (e.g., the NAACP at first tabled it).

Why did Black organizations fight Black economic development and economic opportunity then? Why do some still do so? Look around: Thurgood Marshall said to judge “intent” by the results.  We still have poor education, lack of jobs, and poor housing in the inner city.

Welcome aboard, Ms. Korbel.

Stayed tuned.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and “web log” at

Posted April 14, 2010, 2:28 p.m.

April 07, 2010 Column #14: The Death of Kenneth Sims and the Shame of the City

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

9:07 pm, Tuesday, the 30th of March: Minneapolis recorded its 15th homicide since the first of the year. Kenneth Sims, 21 years old, was shot multiple times by assailants unknown at the time of this writing. For the chief and mayor and council to continue to downplay such shootings by repeating their mantra that all is OK tells us they have lost their moral compass, just as the major print and broadcast media downplay coverage.

What could be more devastating to a parent than losing her only child? The pain and suffering are incalculable.

In addition to Mr. Sims, there were three other homicides: a woman who died of a drug overdose administered by an unknown person, a young woman killed inside the city limits of Minneapolis whose body was dumped in Brooklyn Center, and a young man beaten to death along the 1600 block of Vincent Ave. North.

9:50 pm: Fifty gathered where Mr. Sims was shot. Uneasy and unhappy, angry and frustrated. One mourner asked the White TV camera crew to show respect and get their cameras out of the mother’s face. She told them we’re not monkeys and this is not a zoo. Only through the intervention of police officers was this first confrontation averted from escalating.

10:20 pm: The crowd had grown to over 100 young people. Friends. Relatives.

Loved ones. It became obvious that this 21-year-old African American was extremely popular, loved and respected by his peers. Mr. Sims’ mother arrived a short time after he had been shot, cried out, and asked to view the body of her son. One could sense the heartbreak of her loss and sense her frustration at how the scene was handled.

10:30 pm: Sirens and gunfire could be heard from the direction of 42nd and Irving Ave. North. Police radios reported shootings at the lower end of North Minneapolis.

11:05 pm: A representative of the mayor’s office arrived, met with investigators at the scene, then quickly left. Whether he knew it was the grieving mother he walked past without saying anything we do not know, but we do know he didn’t seek her out to offer condolences. No other leaders, Black or White, appeared.

11:45 pm: Close to 125 friends and loved ones were pushing against the yellow tape, demanding Mr. Sims’ body be covered and removed from the area. But Minnesota does not allow for bodies to be removed until after the medical examiner arrives and makes a preliminary examination.

Three years ago, an agreement was reached between the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC) and the city that in situations when crowds gather, police would take steps to maintain dignity. Doesn’t matter. Immediately following the end of the federal mediation agreement on December 31, 2008, city officials said they would not bother with those kinds of procedures and protocols.

And then they wonder why our community believes they don’t care. It’s because they obviously don’t.

11:50 pm: The medical examiner’s car arrived. Only thanks to the efforts of Police Chaplain Jeffrey Stewart and a community activist who was present was a full-scale confrontation prevented as the crowd became incensed at the insensitivity of the authorities. And once again we could see the difference it makes when no Black police are present in a Black neighborhood. This department is becoming as lily-White as police departments in Finland.

12:30 am: The medical examiner finished and Mr. Sims’ body was taken away.

As the crowd began to disperse, an eerie silence fell over the 4200 block of Irving Ave. North as the sad realization sank in that another life had been lost, another dream shattered.

A mother who lost her only child received no answers to her cries, her questions. A little bit of the city’s soul, heart, and vision of the future died a little, too, as the African American community took yet another hit.

When will the OK chorus regain its moral compass? When will the city address such deep troubles with effective plans for corrective change?

Nellie Stone Johnson notes in her biography that even in 1949, “the NAACP” and the “educated Black middle class elite,” including Thurgood Marshall, were not inclined to take on Brown vs. Board of Education.

Nellie called it “the milquetoast position, the path of least resistance,” even in the face of injustice.

Thurgood finally did. When will Minneapolis’ Black leaders see the light and stop replaying 1949? Stay tuned.

Ron hosts "Black Focus" on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of key civil rights organizations, including the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his "watchdog" role for Minneapolis. Order his books at; hear his readings and read his solution papers and "web log" at

Posted April 7, 2010, 7:16 p.m.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entries 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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