OPINION | Missing from conversation: Black youth, the most likely victims of gun violence

President Barack Obama’s visit to Minneapolis last week to discuss gun control and solutions to limit gun violence left more questions unanswered about the country’s commitment to ending gun violence. It also further exposed the disconnect between the Black community’s desire to see gun violence addressed in urban neighborhoods and the White House’s desire to respond to mass shootings such as occurred in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Occupy the Hood 2nd Annual Martin Luther King Day march/rally for jobs, justice, housing

The MLK birthday too often celebrates the MLK of the “I have a dream” speech. But Dr. King became more than a civil rights leader and was at the time of his death, a staunch supporter of human rights as well. In fact, at the time of his assassination he was standing up for the sanitation workers of Memphis who had been denied fair wages working conditions and dignity.When: 12 pm noon, January 21, 2013What: MLK march for jobs, justice and housingWhere: Minneapolis –Rally at 16th street and Hennepin Ave next to the campus of MCTC March to Mpls City Hall (350 5th St) Stops along the route include Target Headquarter and US Bank on Nicolet Mall and Wells FargoWho: Rose McGee, Monique White, Anthony Newby, Mel Reeves others to be announcedThis march seeks to honor that legacy of Dr. King. The MLK of the“Vietnam and Beyond” speech in which he condemns the militarism, materialism and racism in US society and proclaims that: “ A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death… Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Therefore like last year the march will be in the spirit of Dr. King’s desire for justice for all.This year we seek to rally in support of ongoing struggles for human rights in the Twin Cities. We will march to support the SEIU Local 26 workers seeking a fair contract, to support the efforts of janitors and office cleaners to organize a union. Continue Reading

OPINION | Stadium equity plan not yet a reality: Is a 32 percent people-of-color workforce goal overly optimistic?

The plans are in full swing for the new $975 million Vikings stadium. And yet again many in the Black community hold out hope that the economic stimulus the stadium promises to provide will benefit them as well.Unemployment in the Black community continues to remain high. In fact, in the last quarter of 2012 unemployment in North Minneapolis hovered around 22 percent.While many in the Black community initially opposed the idea of a new Vikings stadium, its approval nevertheless held the promise that the community would benefit from the construction of the stadium in the form of construction jobs and other permanent jobs. And the body that is tasked to make sure that communities of color gets its fair share of the business and jobs, the Minnesota Sports Facility Authority (MSFA), has promised that it has a plan to make sure that it happens.However, while the authority advertised last year that it had a plan, it has yet to be revealed. Yet, staff at the MFSA has assured us that a plan is forthcoming and will likely be released after the first of February.The leadership of the MSFA board is comprised of people who have solid reputations in the community. Continue Reading

OPINION | Target is targeted for hiring practices

At first glance it may seem that Take Action Minnesota’s efforts to encourage companies, particularly the Target Corporation, to hire ex-felons is misdirected. After all, some may think that those who have committed crimes have forfeited their right to future employment.“If you don’t see an end to punishment, you don’t have no hope,” said Frank Brown, one of the lead organizers for Take Action and their Justice for All campaign, which seeks to get employers to consider ex-felons on their merit and not on their past. The Black community is disproportionately affected by this issue because Blacks are disproportionately represented in the prison system.But Take Action is on the right track. There has long existed in this country the idea that everyone deserves a second chance. In fact, the country was founded by people looking for a second chance, a new beginning. Continue Reading

As Vikings stadium bill gets lawmakers’ attention,”People’s Hearing” takes on Minnesota housing crisis

Last week, on the same day that the Minnesota legislature held its public hearing on whether the Minnesota Vikings football team should have a new stadium built with the help of public funds, a housing hearing of another type was being held. This one dealt with the very real problem of the foreclosure crisis.However unlike the stadium hearing, the hearing on the bill to institute a two-year moratorium on foreclosures was given no formal approval by GOP leadership, forcing the sponsoring legislators, State Representative Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis) and State Senator Scott Dibble (DFL- Minneapolis), along with the People’s Bailout Coalition, to hold a “People’s Hearing.”“For the past few years, so many of our community members have faced devastation from the terrible effects of our unstable housing market — the foreclosure of their homes,” said State Representative Clark at a March 15 press conference announcing a bill seeking a two-year moratorium on  foreclosures in the state. Clark said she wanted to give those struggling a chance “to tell their story, a story unfortunately that is too familiar for so many around the state.”The bill sponsored by Clark and Dibble, HF 1886/SF 1521, seeks to freeze for two years foreclosures of owner-occupied properties. During this moratorium, homeowners would be required to continue their current mortgage payments or pay 41 percent of their incomes, whichever is less.The bill would also allow renters to stay in their homes should those who own the property face foreclosure. Renters would be required to pay a fair market rent to the current owner for two years after the bill takes effect.Clarke, Dibble and others were forced to hold a “People’s Hearing” after being denied the opportunity to hold a formal hearing. Continue Reading

Banks: No money to Somalia until risks reduced

“This is not fair. It’s not fair to single out one community. The lifeline for so many innocent people depends on the money we send,” said Abdulaziz Sugule, the former chairman of  SAMSA (Somali American Money Service Association) referring to Franklin Bank’s decision to end remittances to Somalia last December 30. “I hope elected officials will come up with a workable solution.”Sugule and many of the nearly 70,000 Somali that live in Minnesota are extremely anxious and worried about how they are going to get money to their families in Somalia. In some cases it is the only money they receive. Continue Reading

OPINION | U.S. meddling in Somalia is divisive

What took place during the trial of the Somali women Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan, who were convicted of aiding terrorists, was nothing short of U.S. cynicism and hypocrisy. While engaging in a campaign to intimidate the Somali community into silence about the goings-on in their home country, the U.S. has done everything in its power to undermine all efforts to stabilize the East African country.The trial at bottom undermines some of the foundation of a democratic society. An individual should have the ability to be charitable to whomever they choose to be charitable to. U.S. Attorney Jeff Paulsen said that the fact that the women had done nothing against the U.S. was beyond the point. But I disagree — it is exactly the point.The U.S. has bombed Somalia using drones. Continue Reading

OPINION | Will ‘good faith efforts’ get Blacks light rail jobs?

“Where are the Black people?” has been a constant refrain by Black folks who have observed the construction of the nearly $940 million Central Corridor Light Rail (CCLRT). A survey of the project on the Minneapolis end of the CCLRT, which expands from downtown through the University of Minnesota’s East Bank, by the Spokesman-Recorder two weeks ago observed 68 workers; two were Black, four appeared to be Native American and/or Hispanic, and four were women.A spot check by another MSR observer two weeks later counted 56 workers, two of them Black and two of them women.According to the Met Council, which is responsible for oversight of the project, nearly 1,300 jobs will be created by the project, which is about 20 percent complete. But questions have arisen about just how members of the Black community can obtain some of these jobs. The light rail is being constructed through a metro area that has some of the largest concentrations of minorities in the state of Minnesota.The CCLRT project, through the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), has targeted goals for including minorities/people of color in the project. The project workforce is supposed to include 18 percent minority and six percent women.But at the bottom of the requirements for each major company involved in the construction is an asterisk with this message: “Actual participation may be supplemented by contractor Good Faith Efforts.”The MDHR has provided a number of ways for contractors to demonstrate “good faith” when workforce goals have not been met, including training programs and a list of nearly 1,200 minority and women workers and their skills put together by LRT Works, a project to help contractors and subcontractors locate available minority workers. Continue Reading