One strike and you’re out: Facing the criminal justice system

Somali immigrants came to the US as refugees and asylees over the past 10 years. Children that arrived here in 1990s know Minnesota as their home. But if they get convicted of a crime – even a minor theft, they could lose their immigration status and get deportation ordered for Somalia. Whether they get orders for deportation or not depends on the legal help they get from public defenders and immigration law clinics. Some immigrants lose their way navigating the maze of immigration law and criminal law. Continue Reading

Complaints against cops frustrating but necessary

Although it may take years for complaints against Minneapolis police officers to be resolved, and only a few result in any disciplinary action or victim compensation, city officials and civil rights activists encourage immigrants to file formal complaints. “Interactions with police officers should be appropriate, and your rights respected,” said Michael Weinbeck, former chairman of the Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA), a city agency that investigates complaints against Minneapolis police officers. “If that doesn’t happen, the government should be accountable for that.”
Like other immigrant groups, Africans in Minnesota rarely file written complaints. City officials and civil rights advocates say that may be because most immigrants come from countries where it is dangerous to complain about the police. “There’s a general fear of police in the community,” said Saeed Fahia, director of Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota. Continue Reading

African Diaspora conference focuses on common issues

Amid calls for resistance to free market policies in Latin America, and dreams of a socialist revolution, Nekima Levy-Pounds described her research into the 13th amendment of the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery. “The 13th amendment took one form of slavery and replaced it with another – incarceration,” she told an audience of about 100 on March 1 at a conference in North Minneapolis on the African Diaspora in the Americas. Levy-Pounds, a civil rights attorney who teaches at the University of St. Thomas, went on to outline how states profited from prisoners as they had profited slave labor even 100 years after slavery was forbidden. By bringing together Afro-Venezuelan organizers, Colombian exiles, Haitians, Puerto Ricans, and African American activists, the conference strove to establish a common sense of purpose for the disparate groups of African-descended peoples in the United States and Latin America. Continue Reading

Cedar-Riverside Perks Up

Ted Lowell says fixing up the new home of the Acadia Café feels like playing until about 12:30 a.m. when he has to finish a project before the plumber comes the next morning. With the Acadia’s January 20th reopening just days away, Lowell can’t afford to lose any time. Lowell is 41. He’s stocky and jocular, with a dark graying beard. Today, he’s installing new sinks for the restaurant. Continue Reading

New moon over Mecca and Minnesota marks Eid

In the Twin Cities and around the world, Muslims celebrated Eid ul-Adha this week, a prayer service commemorating the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son at the altar. It’s a story that some Christians shy away from – the idea that God would ask Abraham to kill his son, as act of obedience, is troubling. Not so for Muslims.
“It’s more about the concept of obedience,” said Kashir Khan as he left the prayer ceremony Apple Valley Community Center Friday morning. Khan, 24, grew up in Hyderabad, India and lives in Eagan. After prayers, he will change out of his robe into a white collared shirt and dress pants and rush off to his job at a software development company. Continue Reading

Clog, clog, step! Two clomping traditions come together in Minneapolis

So what does African-American stepping have to do with Appalachian clogging? Last year Ann Carter set out to prove that her clogging group, the Wild Goose Chase Cloggers, could groove with an African-American step team. Carter is white, and she’s worked in urban schools for over five years. Somehow she got the idea that the old-time percussive dance she loves could fit together with a percussive form of African-American line dancing that grew out of the formation of historic black colleges nearly 100 years ago. Appalachian Clogging Meets African American Stepping: Performance at the Southern Theater on December 15 at 8 PM. Continue Reading

House of Mercy goes to war

All kinds of groups have come out against the war in Iraq in the past few years. City councils have passed resolutions, and church groups regularly hold vigils. But there’s a church in St. Paul that’s trying to get to the heart of the matter. This Sunday, House of Mercy Church is dedicating a day to singing war hymns, and peace songs in an effort to acknowledge the church’s place in the culture of war. Continue Reading