Cathy Velasquez-Eberhart of the group Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-Twin Cities (CARS-TC)

Residents respond to railroad “pipeline on wheels”

Two years ago on July 6, an oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killed 47 people, and to prevent a similar catastrophe from occurring in Minnesota, Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-Twin Cities (CARS-TC) held a press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday, July 7, to address this threat in the Twin Cities. “There’s been some good, some bad and some ugly,” Representative Frank Hornstein said, commenting on the progress between railroads and public safety. CARS-TC hosted the “Minnesota in the Blast Zone” press conference on July 7. The press conference glossed over the danger of railroads in the Twin Cities and gave a legislative update on rail safety and a critical evaluation on the railroad industry’s response. Continue Reading

5th District Congressman Keith Ellison speaks with community members

Representative Keith Ellison talks with community about rail safety

Representative of the Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, Keith Ellison, had an informal talk with citizens at the Lutheran Social Service, Center for Changing Lives in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 28. “At my congressional office we really do regard you as our partners,” Ellison said at the event. “If we are not serving you as well as we should be, we want to know about it because we are not afraid of getting better.”

Ellison said that listening to people and arguing on their behalf at the national level at Congress is his top priority. The topics discussed included prosperity for working families, reforms in the juvenile criminal justice system and an update on rail safety in Minnesota. One member in attendance asked if there would be reforms in the juvenile criminal justice system to prevent the youths from being trapped in the cycle where they’d continuously be on the streets. Continue Reading

Picture of 10-year-old boy allegedly maced by Minneapolis police during demonstration.

10-year-old pepper-sprayed by Minneapolis Police during downtown protest

Social media videos capture scenes of a police officer spraying protestors. Outraged, some protestors and community members are demanding action be taken against the officer.

Shortly after 10 p.m., videos began to surface showing protesters in the streets marching peacefully. Off camera, a police siren can be heard. Moments later amid screams, you could hear someone yelling, “You just maced a 10-year-old kid.” Continue Reading

license plate readers

Hey Minnesota House: there are privacy concerns with license plate readers

On average, less than one percent of plates paired up with a hotlist/watchlist, and even fewer lead to an arrest, according to the data I have received in data requests. So the question is why should we be keeping data on innocent and law-abiding people for any length of time 30 days, 60 days, three months. I oppose collection of license plate reader data on innocent people. Continue Reading

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Martin Luther King Goes to the Mall (or WWMD?)

“It’s important to make an example out of these organizers, so that this never happens again.” This message was sent to the managers of the Mall of America by Sandra Johnson, the City Attorney of Bloomington, Minnesota, where the Mall is located. The “organizers,” whom she also refers to as “criminals,” assailants” and “ringleaders” were involved in one way or another with a peaceful, multi-generational, multiracial rally held in the Mall’s rotunda to draw attention to racist police brutality. Such events are what “must never happen again.”

Johnson’s over-the-top push make the defendants pay for the police overreaction has raised eyebrows in legal and business circles and alarmed civil libertarians. The Mall had earlier rebuffed her proposal to punish Mall employees for showing sympathy with the rally, citing “the potential for further press.” “Further press” is what the City Attorney appears determined to deliver. Continue Reading


Rage, Hope, Love Fueling Black Lives Matter Movement


“The problem is poverty. The problem is racism,” said Rev. Victoria Safford of the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church. “The problem is deep, deep, old oppression.”

Safford was one of more than 200 people who showed up outside an Edina, Minnesota court to support eleven people who have been charged with a variety of crimes after a December Black Lives Matter rally at the Mall of America. The problems of poverty, racism and oppression are at the root of what the Black Lives Matter movement is fighting against. What will it to take to fix it? Continue Reading


Hooray for Mayor Hodges’ Courageous Soccer Stadium Stand!

Bill McGuire and his sports buddies the Pohlads, who own the Twins, and Glen Taylor, who owns the Timberwolves, want to build a stadium in downtown Minneapolis just for soccer.  And here’s the good news: They want to build it using private money.  And here’s the bad news: They want a rebate on sales taxes and they want a permanent exemption from paying local property taxes. Mayor Betsy Hodges went on record as saying “No,” and she said it in a public and detailed letter:
“There is no need for a subsidy for this facility, or this ownership group, whatsoever. The subsidy they are requesting will have a direct and negative impact on the taxpayers of Minneapolis. “First, the McGuire group is asking to avoid paying their fair share of property taxes—not just for a limited term of time, but forever. “The land where the MN United ownership group proposes to build the stadium is currently privately owned, so it currently pays property taxes [$334,000 a year] that would disappear if the soccer stadium were exempted from taxes. Continue Reading


Body cameras benefit the police

Whether or not they care to admit it, I am positive that every student, professor and community member has an opinion on body cameras for police officers. Perhaps a body camera would have been useful in the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson this past summer. But while body cameras are certainly useful in situations like Brown’s, they also reward the police officers who are doing a good job. Therefore, I am glad that many police departments are moving toward using them. Having cameras available for law enforcement officers is important for several reasons. First, it enables their superiors to determine whether the officers are doing their jobs well.  Most importantly, the use of cameras will help the fight to end racial injustice. A report by the Washington Post found that in three-quarters of fatal shooting cases since 2005, the police officers were white, and two-thirds of officers’ victims were black.  Prosecutors won’t press charges against officers unless there is a substantial amount of evidence. Continue Reading