Solidarity rally for Mike Brown, against police brutality draws nearly 1,000

(Photos by Katie Nelson)

Twin Cities residents continue to feel the reverberations from the early-August shooting of an unarmed Black teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. with local activists calling for more tools, training, transparency and accountability within local law enforcement in order to curb racial injustices within the criminal justice system.

Almost a thousand activists flooded downtown Minneapolis on Aug. 28 to attend a rally against police brutality and racial inequality. The protest remained peaceful and well-organized despite briefly closing off major roads and disrupting traffic downtown. Minneapolis police held back traffic as protesters made their way to the rally at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza.

According to the NAACP, African Americans constitute about one million of the 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, and African Americans are incarcerated nearly six times the rate of Whites.

The protest, organized by the emerging Young People’s Freedom & Justice Party, came almost 12 hours after St. Paul police shot and killed a man who was allegedly throwing large rocks and acting aggressively toward officers. And just two days ago, a video surfaced showing a St. Paul officer tasering and arresting a Black man who was waiting to pick up his children from daycare.

Activists from all social and racial spectrums attended Thursday’s rally, many holding signs with slogans “I am Mike Brown” and “Black life matters” splashed across poster board.

Though many of the protesters remained united by similar conviction to end racial injustice, almost every individual had their own idea about solving this multifaceted and emotionally charged issue.

Darnella Wade said she wants to equip all on-duty police officers with body cameras. “I think when people know they’re being watched, they behave themselves better,” she said. “And it just makes us feel safer.”

Mike Herndon said national leaders must accept that racial inequality actually exists before further progress can be made.

“We hear a lot of nice talk from a lot of [political leaders] and they keep on talking about how they want to these fix problems,” Herndon said. “But they never acknowledge that the police system is racist, they never acknowledge that [Black Americans] are racially profiled, that we are pulled over at a much higher rate, that we are incarcerated at a much higher rate than our White counterparts.”

Speaking to the growing crowd on Thursday evening, activist Mel Reeves encouraged communities of color to show their collective power by boycotting racist businesses and companies, and challenging the components of structural racism — like generational poverty and inequity — in their communities.

“But we can’t end racism by ourselves,” Reeves added. “We need to come together to create a platform, a platform for justice.”

The pressure for racial equality seems to be mounting on a local and national level said Nancy Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity at St. Catherine University. Recent solidarity rallies and public demonstrations underscore “long standing concerns about police brutality and police violence … that rise to public attention with the case of a dramatic killing,” she said.

“This certainly will renew again calls for the reform of policing,” Heitzeg added. “But I think that any real change in what’s happening is going to require a longer conversation about the de-criminalization and the de-incarceration [of people of color].”

That kind of work won’t always be glamorous, Heitzed said, and it will take a long time and often be difficult.

For Herndon, that means pushing people out of their comfort zones.

“People have to be uncomfortable to solve these kinds of problems,” he said. “They’re never going to change unless they’re forced to change,” he said.

Read more TC Daily Planet coverage of police misconduct issues.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

Clarification: Additional information was added to clarify that traffic downtown was briefly interrupted and that police worked with protesters as they made their way to the rally at the Hennepin County Government Center Plaza. The word "accountability" was also added to emphasize the demands by protesters.

Publisher's note: the original headline of this article was revised to more accurately reflect the purpose of the rally, and a comment attributed to Mel Reeves was edited to more accurately express his point of view. 

  • Here's my two cents: Police targeting targeting African Americans and other marginalized people of color for arrest and excessive use of force are not only part of a pattern of discrimination within the criminal justice system (e.g., prosecution and incarceration), but is also related to ongoing racial discrimination by policy makers in K-12 and higher education, token enforcement at best of fair employment and housing laws, inadequate increases in the minimum wage that disproportionately affects people of color. Requiring cops to wear cam-corders is something that should be demanded, especially because it has been proven effective in reducing police brutality and bogus arrests. However, it is very important to raise demands relating to the roots of racial profiling by police, such as empowering the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to detect and prosecute employers and landlords who covertly discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, etc. Increases in the minimum wage disproportionately benefits people of color who are disproportionately poor, but also benefits poor whites. I believe that even the majority of whites would benefit from steps to eliminate racism and poverty. Those who benefit most from racism and poverty are rich people, whose status is based on a social and economic system that nurtures and is nurtured by racism. I believe that promoting racism and poverty is not in the class interests of a large majority of people, including the majority of Whites. I don't believe that moral appeals to discriminators to voluntarily stop discriminating are effective. We need systemic change that can only be gotten by making demands on the government to enforce civil rights laws and to eliminate poverty through minimum wage legislation, income supports, socialized medicine, etc. - by Doug Mann on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:14am
  • Shelly your white privelidge is showing. It was peaceful. - by Kristina Standingcloud on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:30am
  • An unarmed black teen was shot dead in the street, but somehow an old white lady made it about her. Smdh - by Susan Erickson on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 11:39am
  • I think we're ignoring the larger picture here. Yes, blocking traffic was bad; if you get fired from your job for being late - and it does happen - you could lose everything. I speak for a substantial group of Americans who are one paycheck away from eviction. BUT!!!! While I believe the recent video was a blatant attempt at manipulation, the messages put forth at this rally are good ones. There IS a problem with race disparity in this country. Cops DO need to wear cameras, both for their protection and citizens' protection. And blacks DO need to vote, to run for office, to boycott businesses that discriminate. I'm not sure the word "White" needs to be capitalized, but otherwise, excellent article, Katie G. Nelson! - by Michele Olson on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 9:14am
  • News flash: If you are disrupting the lives of ordinary citizens and infringing on THEIR rights in the process of your 'demonstration,' your demonstration is not 'peaceful'... or productive. - by Shelley Leeson on Fri, 08/29/2014 - 8:18pm
  • Yes, It is similar to an addictive attitude, only here we are addicted to pre-concieved ideas about things. Or our habit is just to avoid looking (deeply) at things that make us uncomfortable. Either way it usually takes a certain degree of discomfort to motivate change. So that is why we demonstrate,to draw attention to things and to make the people who are doing these things feel uncomfortable with their bad habits or motivations. - by Jon Frasz on Mon, 09/01/2014 - 6:16pm
  • I am glad our department wants to move forward and try to do something to fix this. Cop cams will help, but not inevitably solve the problem. It may be that small step foward needed to get other states on board, maybe not. But instead of argueing amoungst each other about what is or is not peaceful, or who has the most white privilege we should be rallying together to help fix this problem with the police force in anyway we can. This is more than a mere inconvenience for an entire race of people, it's their lives at stake. I think blocked traffic to help open people's eyes and try to make some changes is more than fair enough so everyone can feel equal and free in our country. - by Ava Schwark on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 12:14pm
  • *privilege - by Kristina Standingcloud on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 6:32am
  • Looking at these posts is enligtening. Many well thought out arguments on either side punctuated by rude and reactive counterpoints. We are sliding ever so gradually into a state of constant bickering. Solutions seems less important than the making of a point. Congress serves as a great example, but it is quite evident in this forum. - by Michael Rostance on Mon, 09/01/2014 - 9:31am
  • The person who took/approved these pictures should be fired. - by Justin Finton on Sat, 08/30/2014 - 8:46pm

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Thank You

Thank you Katie Nelson of the Daily Planet. The local "news"paper the Star Tribune did not see fit to report on this.

Michael Cavlan RN
IndyMedia Journalist