Photo by Bill Cottman

from beyond the LOOP…#033115

just like Africathe NorthSide’s a continent…one acts not for allEditors Note: This is a new series by Minneapolis photographer Bill Cottman. For more than five years now, a poem, a musing, or a few words shows up in my inbox. Some with numbers in the title. Some with no title at all. There was no regularity either. Continue Reading

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman (Credit: Charles Hallman)

HN county attorney challenges staff to reduce Black youth incarceration

Taxpayers nationwide pay an estimated $8 to $21 billion each year to keep juveniles in jail according to a December 2014 Justice Policy Institute report, which found that the national average confinement cost last year ranged from $400 per day or nearly $150,000 a year for each incarcerated youth. Minnesota ranked 15th among the 46 states the nonprofit justice reform group studied, coming in at $287.23 per day or almost $105,000 per year per youth.Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, in an exclusive MSR interview last week, said his office has been working to keep youth, especially Black youth, out of the juvenile justice system. His office has been implementing the recommendations from a 2013 study by the Council on Crime and Justice (CCJ).Freeman told the MSR, “We’re deeply concerned about the apparent racial inequity in the criminal justice system here in Minneapolis and in Hennepin County. I’ve been convinced for a long time about racial inequities in how we charge cases, especially among juveniles. Do we charge…differently if the kid’s skin is Black than if the kid’s skin is White?”The executive summary in the September 2013 CCJ report, “Toward Racially Neutral Juvenile Diversion and Charging Decisions,” pointed out, “No studies in Minnesota…have analyzed the impact of juvenile prosecutorial charging and diversion decisions…of youth of color in the juvenile justice system.”Freeman’s office also provided the CCJ with sample data of juvenile cases from 2010-11 for analysis. Continue Reading

(Photo by Anna Min) 2,400 people have RSVP’d on Facebook to attend the Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America on Dec. 20. More than a thousand protesters rallied last week in downtown Minneapolis.

Bloomington threatens to arrest Black Lives Matter organizers, not protesters

A Black Lives Matter protest planned for Dec. 20 at the Mall of America hit a snag this week when Mall of America officials threatened to remove any protesters and potentially have them arrested. The protest is part of a national movement aimed at raising awareness about police violence against people of color.Related stories: [PHOTOS] #BlackLivesMatter momentum continues, protesters march on downtown Minneapolis[PHOTOS] #BlackLivesMatter protesters halt 35W traffic: “We’re ready for change”A letter, signed by Mall of America Management, was sent by courier to the homes of several of the organizers, saying that advocates were allowed to protest on the Alpha Business Center Lot, adjacent to the mall, but that any protesters inside of the mall would be subject to removal, as the Mall of America is private property.Black Lives Matter organizer Michael McDowell said the letter was delivered to his house by courier on Dec. 12, though he didn’t receive it until Dec. 13. Continue Reading

(Photo by Bill Huntzicker) The Southeast Library, designed by the late Ralph Rapson to be a credit union, has operated in its Dinkytown building since 1967.

What will become of Dinkytown’s Southeast Library?

Dinkytown could soon lose its public library, but Hennepin County will ultimately decide if that’s worth it, or if they should replace or upgrade it.The four neighborhoods that surround the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis are underserved by library services and space, said a consultant who organized a study that could be the first step toward determining whether the Southeast Library at Dinkytown will be updated or replaced.Steve Kelley, senior fellow at the University’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, was the lead consultant to coordinate the 25-member, four-month Southeast Library Engagement project for Hennepin County. He summarized their report on Dec. 15 to the directors of the University District Alliance.Kelley said his report will be transmitted by Dec. 31 to the Hennepin County commissioners and the library administration, which will decide whether to remodel, replace or close the current Southeast Library at 1222 Fourth St. S.E. Kelley’s task, however, was to discover what activities the four university neighborhoods – the West Bank/Cedar-Riverside, Marcy-Holmes, Prospect Park, and Southeast Como – need in library services and space, separate from any particular location.His graduate student researchers and community meetings demonstrated a strong desire for a traditional library with stacks of books that can be browsed, with places to meet and study, and large and small meeting rooms.Libraries are still strongly associated with reading, he said, and with children. Continue Reading

(Photos by Sam Radwany)

Dozens protest Uptown McDonald’s for minimum wage increase

Fast food workers, home health care workers, airport employees and dozens of supporters blocked traffic outside an Uptown McDonald’s on Dec.4, demanding a $15 minimum wage and union benefits. More than 50 protesters marched into the nearby McDonald’s where several employees walked off the job.Thursday marked two years since fast food workers first walked off the job in New York City to demand a living wage, sparking a movement across the country. Minneapolis first joined the “Fight for $15” in September, when workers went on strike for a day at several fast food locations around the city. Just last week, nearly 500 people took part in a Black Friday protest at two Walmarts in St. Paul and Minneapolis, including dozens of retail janitors who walked off the job. Continue Reading

(Photo by Nate Brault) Washburn High School students in the Theatre III class, participate in the day's activities.

Youth activism: Washburn High School theater teaches advocacy

Eshay Brantley didn’t know what to expect walking into the Theatre I class at Washburn High School in Minneapolis. But, having felt as though she hadn’t found her niche in school yet, she went in with an open mind.Two years later, Brantley’s a senior, and identifies as a spoken word artist and has competed in the spoken word competition Brave New Voices through Tru Art Speaks, performed at locations including Macalester College, and received an award for her role as a youth educator at the Twin Cities Social Justice Education Fair.“We save lives here every single day, just by having students get on stage and actually speak from their heart,” Brantley said.Theatre I is just one of five classes now being taught at Washburn through their Black Box Acting Program. The series, which started in 2008, provides three levels of theater classes, as well as a spoken word class and one aimed at students with developmental disabilities. The program is meant to help students further explore social justice issues, and teach them skills to help them better advocate their needs and beliefs.Brantley said she came from a family that didn’t talk about social justice issues, so the theater classes provided her with an outlet to explore social issues like marginalized communities and systematic oppression. The classes also helped her figure out her role in those issues and within her community, she said.“[It] made me think less about myself and more about the people around me and what I see is affecting the people around me,” Brantley said.Brantley’s experience with the program is not an anomaly. Continue Reading