Activist Monte Bute

Dinkytown panel compares 1970s, current activism

For one month in 1970, protesters occupied two buildings slated for demolition to build a fast-food restaurant called the Red Barn in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.One predawn morning in early May, police in riot gear cleared the protesters while bulldozers leveled the buildings. Within a day, the demonstrators built a peace garden on the site and, a year later, Red Barn gave up the idea of building another fast-food store in Dinkytown.Subsequent efforts to stop development in Dinkytown haven’t gone so well. Matt Hawbaker, who helped organize Save Dinkytown in an unsuccessful effort to stop a much larger development two years ago, said he felt awe and jealousy as he watched Al Milgrom’s “The Dinkytown Uprising,” a film about the Red Barn protest.Hawbaker and a panel of other neighborhood activists and residents compared notes April 20 with Monte Bute, one of the protestors featured in the film.“We went with a more political solution,” said Hawbaker, who noted that they came close to having the City Council block demolition of buildings to make way for the mixed-use Opus Development, now called Venue. “The projects that are proposed are not the best shot for independent business,” he said. “We got a Starbucks, a Great Clips and an offshoot of Goodwill.”He and Lynn Nyman, a manager for Loring Café and Varsity Theater, said that more than 60 percent of Dinkytown’s businesses are still local, adding that the area has been and continues to be an incubator of small business.Another panelist, Hung Q. Russell, chairman of the Marcy-Holmes Land Use Committee, called the film a well-drafted story narrative. Continue Reading

Image by Bill Sorem.

Columbus Statue Celebrates Genocide and Should Be Removed

Native American activist groups in Minnesota would like people to learn the real history of Christopher Columbus and quit putting him up on a pedestal at the State Capitol.“We all know in 1492 he sailed the ocean blue,” said American Indian Movement Chair Mike Forcia. “And in 1493 he stole all that he could see.”For more than 83 years a statue of Columbus has gazed from the Capitol toward Minnesota’s Justice Center. For Forcia, real justice would be removing the statue.“We need to deport Columbus,” said Forcia. “We can’t be celebrating genocide anymore.”Genocide isn’t a word most history books associate with Columbus, but he enslaved Native Americans. As governor of the large island he called Espanola (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Columbus’ programs reduced the native population from as many as eight million at the outset of his regime to about three million in 1496.Minnesota’s legislature is considering a bill that would change the engraving on the statue from “Discoverer of America” to “Christopher Columbus landed in America.” A co-sponsor of the House bill includes Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City), who taught high school government classes 35 years.That change misses the point, say Native Americans who marched through downtown St. Continue Reading

jeff_hassan

Black Folk: Cause for a Different Type of Reporting

Attorney, Jeff Hassan is Executive Director to the African American Leadership Forum. The mission of AALF’s Executive Director is to create full employment, build wealth, close the achievement gap, affect legislative policy and promote healthy living in the Twin Cities African American Community. To accomplish these tasks, Mr. Hassan must first address an age old issue that affect the thought process of every day Minnesotans, especially those who read the Star Tribune. These thought processes could very well inadvertently affect legislation and funding crucial to change necessary in the African American community. As a father is to his child and as a leader is to his tribe —Mr. Hassan is the Alpha Male, and he is very protective of African American leaders and passionately demonstrates this in his open letter to the Star Tribune today. Continue Reading

PHOTOS: White Earth Council (left to right): Tara Mason, Secretary/Treasurer; Steven "Punky" Clark, District I Representative; Erma Vizenor, Chairwoman; Kenneth "Gua" Bevins, District III Representative; and Kathy Goodwin, District II Representative (Top).

White Earth constitutional reform stalled by infighting

“The people of White Earth voted for a new constitution, and a judge upheld the validity of that referendum. So why don’t we have a new constitution at White Earth?” For Lorna LaGue, White Earth’s Director of Constitutional Reform, the question is rhetorical. After all, she’s had a front row seat to the clash taking place on her reservation between those who support the new tribal constitution and those oppose to it. Both sides are polarized, passionate, and deeply entrenched after years of infighting which surfaced in conjunction with the first White Earth Constitutional Convention in 2007.The latest dust-up — between White Earth Chairwoman Erma Vizenor, who supports the new constitution as “the will of the people” and those who oppose her efforts — has taken place in the pages of White Earth’s newspaper, Anishinaabeg Today.In the December issue Vizenor used her monthly column to explain that a gag-order had been imposed to prevent the tribal newspaper from printing information about constitutional reform efforts.“The White Earth Tribal Council voted to censor the press from printing any more information or updates on the Constitution of the White Earth Nation,” Vizenor wrote. “The vote took place on Nov. Continue Reading

Protesters gathered in and around vacated buildings for a month in 1970 to prevent their demolition for the construction of a fast-food restaurant. Over the roof, you can see Marshall High School in the distant background a block away and some former Victorian homes that had been converted to businesses. Photo by and Copyright Cheryl Walsh Bellville.

Former and current Dinkytown activists will compare notes

Dinkytown activists from the 1970s and those of today will compare notes on a panel discussion from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, in the back room of Pracna on Main at 117 Main St. S.E., Minneapolis.The discussion will follow a showing of “The Dinkytown Uprising,” a film by Al Milgrom about the month-long demonstration in which protestors occupied buildings to stop construction of a fast-food franchise called the Red Barn. The film traces the lives of prominent leaders of the 1970 protest to see where they are today.Some protesters in the film will participate in the discussion that is free, and admission to the film is not necessary to attend the panel.Panelists will include Monte Bute, who was among the protestors who successfully kept the Red Barn out of Dinkytown, and Matt Hawbaker, who helped organize Save Dinkytown two years ago. This more recent group failed to prevent the demolition of businesses to construct a mixed-use midrise apartment building that opened last fall.The panel will explore contrasts and similarities between the two protests and the changing nature of the small business district near the University of Minnesota.Bute, an associate professor of sociology at Metropolitan State University, was among the 1970 organizers featured in Milgrom’s film. Others featured in the film may participate as well.“I came to realize that by our mid-40s that [the philosopher] Camus was right,” Bute said in the film. Continue Reading