Northsiders mingle with Minneapolis cops, firefighters at People’s BBQ

If only for a few hours, the city’s North Side and Minneapolis police recently worked together and had fun doing so.At least on that day, August 17, police officers walked among the mostly Black crowd and peacefully coexisted. Minneapolis police, along with Minneapolis firefighters and the Park Board members, held the “Battle of the Badges — The People’s BBQ,” a free food and entertainment event at North Commons Park. One officer later told the MSR that they ran out of food, but it appeared that everyone had fun.In light of recent tensions between the Black community and police, “I thought it was a great idea,” said KMOJ Morning Personality Shedrick Garrett, better known as Shed G. The station was among several local businesses and organizations that helped sponsor the four-hour outdoor event.“It was a tremendous amount of people. I just loved the fact that [the police] put on the effort to have it in the community where they patrol, to try to bridge that gap,” said Garrett, who emceed the various activities, including musical performances from the Sounds of Blackness, Paris Bennett and others. There was also a best BBQ contest between the police and fire departments, judged by community folk. Continue Reading

Twin Cities residents organize ‘March to Close the Gaps’ to celebrate March on Washington’s 50th anniversary

The 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington will be recognized with a day of activities Saturday, August 24. Community residents, including several who participated in the historic 1963 gathering on the Washington Mall, will speak at Sabathani Community Center in South Minneapolis at 10:30 am.Left: Tracine Asberry (MSR file photo)“We are trying to bridge the gap between those who went on the original march — there are a number of [local] people who went on that march,” noted Mary Merrill Anderson, who was in junior high when the historic event took place in 1963. “We want to get their perspective on what was on their minds when they went, why they made the sacrifice to go to Washington, D.C., and what they hoped to accomplish.”At 11:45 am the “March to Close the Gaps” will commence at Sabathani and end at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park at 40th and Nicollet. There, 12:30 pm, retired historian Mahmoud El-Kati and others will reflect on Dr. King and the march.Right: Mary Merrill Anderson (Photo by Charles Hallman)The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Legacy Council is sponsoring the event. Anderson and Tracine Asberry are both council members and told the MSR last week in separate interviews that it is more than a remembrance of the occasion that took place 50 years ago this month.“Even though living in Minnesota, there was obviously discrimination [but] not in the same way [as elsewhere, especially in the South],” remembers Anderson. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | Kevin Kling gets personal in “Humanimal” at the Open Eye Figure Theatre

The first time I saw Kevin Kling up close (and personal, for that’s Kling’s nature) he was walking in my neighborhood—turns out it’s his, too—accompanied by an animal, a wiener dog. Actually, he was sauntering, a pace suited to his short-legged friend. When it comes to the human-animal connection, this man speaks from experience. Kling confesses that as a child he thought he was an animal.In his 7th summer season at Open Eye Figure Theatre, Kevin Kling, nationally known storyteller and artist-in-residence at Minnesota Public Radio, presents Humanimal, an evening of story, song, and imagery, exploring the evolving relationships between animals and humans, created with collaborators Michael Sommers, Simone Perrin, Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney. Sommers also directs the show.“What animal scares you the most?” flashes on the screen, a warm-up to the show. Continue Reading

Hennepin County Attorney Freeman on Terrance Franklin case: ‘It’ll be up to a grand jury’ — MSR inquires into historical failures to prosecute police for misconduct

Historically, many local Blacks believe that no matter what evidence is presented, nothing happens to Minneapolis police officers for misconduct against people of color. The May 10 death of Terrance Franklin, reportedly at the hands of City police, has thus far done nothing to erase such beliefs.A common theme expressed during recent public demonstrations is that the city’s Black community has no confidence in the police department investigating Franklin’s death or in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office that might or might not do anything to the responsible officer or officers for acts of misconduct.Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman pledges that his office will do anything in its power to see that justice is done in the Franklin case. Freeman spoke one-on-one with the MSR last week for nearly an hour. He says he understands the community’s impatience, doubts and demands for answers to what happened almost four months ago in a South Minneapolis basement.“I do not run the Minneapolis Police Department,” stated Freeman, who added that his office does not get involved in police cases until the investigation, which is still ongoing, is completed. “What we do in police cases in which the result is the death of a civilian, we take every one of those cases to the grand jury.”According to both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Minnesota Fourth District Court handbook, a grand jury does not have to hear both sides of a case. Continue Reading