The next Hennepin County Attorney will control the criminal justice system for 1.2 million people

This piece is part of Twin Cities Daily Planet’s series covering the 2018 elections season. Every year we’re moving towards a possibility of a more diverse legislature. And with it, we hope comes increased opportunities for communities historically shut out of political processes and power to imagine and enact policies to create a Minnesota that benefits all its constituents. “The prosecutor is single-handedly the most powerful person in the courtroom,” said Elizer Darris, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice organizer. Darris is spearheading doorknocking about the role of prosecutors, elected officials known in some states as district attorneys and here in Minnesota as county attorneys. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 10/10: Native homeless encampment moved to navigation center

The Minneapolis City Council recently voted to move the Franklin-Hiawatha Native homeless encampment, known as Wall of Forgotten Natives, to a nearby “navigation center” on Cedar Avenue. This facility is to be a temporary shelter to help the homeless Native population have access to warm shelter and healthcare as the temperatures drop. The Red Lake Nation, owner of the new location, is invested in working with Minneapolis city officials to implement a long term solution, and has plans to build a six-story affordable housing complex on the location starting in 2019. “These are our people down here … The reality is, as tribal leaders, we need to step up, and it’s powerful when we do,” said Sam Strong, tribal secretary of the Red Lake Nation. Find the full story at The Circle. Continue Reading

Hennepin County sheriff’s office and the consequences of authority

This piece is part of Twin Cities Daily Planet’s series covering the 2018 elections season. Every year we’re moving towards a possibility of a more diverse legislature. And with it, we hope comes increased opportunities for communities historically shut out of political processes and power to imagine and enact policies to create a Minnesota that benefits all its constituents. Brian Fullman, an organizer with ISAIAH, a multiracial, nonpartisan coalition of faith communities focused on housing and racial equality in Minnesota, wants a sheriff who represents community. “I would like to see somebody who has directly been impacted by immigration or mass incarceration. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 10/4: Council members vote against independent investigation of MPD and improper ketamine use

In a recent decision, Minneapolis City Council members voted 10 – 3 against funding an independent investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department after a report asserting that officers improperly encouraged Emergency Medical Services to administer ketamine to people in police custody. The investigation, recommended by Mayor Jacob Frey, was to be led by acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates and King & Spalding LLP, the Atlanta-based law firm where Yates is a partner. “This is something we all agreed was necessary just three short months ago,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano (Ward 13). “We heard from the community. Their asks were clear. Continue Reading

Acting as a cultural broker: how medical interpreters navigate the patient-provider relationship

The heart of Sergio Choy’s job as a medical interpreter is to capture the spirit of the message between patient and medical provider. “You hear things like, ‘I’m feeling a little blue today,’ in English, but not in other languages. You can’t feel a color in Spanish,” said Choy, who translates between English and Spanish, and says that many expressions are not easily translated from one language to another, especially those having to do with emotions. Choy, who loves this aspect of his job, works as a freelancer at Kim Tong Translation Services located in Little Canada, and does medical interpretation at Twin Cities health clinics. More than 200,000 people in Minnesota have limited English skills, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and the state government currently lists 3,500 active medical interpreters on its registry. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 9/27: Bell Museum exhibit features Ojibwe and Dakota voiceovers

At the newly renovated and reopened Bell Museum, the voices of Ojibwe and Dakota children inform about natural science dioramas, depicting nature scenes from around Minnesota. The inclusion of these voices was intentional, hoping to showcase the persisting existence of these languages in the face of cultural destruction through colonization. “They chose the words for the conversation,” said Cindy Ward-Thompson, Bdote Learning Center founder and current director. “We used a lot of children in the process because we wanted to show others that Dakota and Ojibwe are still vibrant spoken languages and that the language is alive in children as well as elders.”

Read more at The Circle. Creative writing space uplifts Black and POCI voices

Black Lines Matter is a project of Black Table Arts, an organization dedicated to creating spaces for Black and POCI individuals to have their creative expression centered and uplifted. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 9/19: Somali immigrants utilize farmer training program to establish farms in Minnesota

For many immigrants with hopes of making a living off farming, owning and operating a farm can seem like an impossible task between startup costs, attaining Minnesota agricultural knowledge and finding a market for produce. The Minnesota Food Association (MFA) works to alleviate some of these challenges by offering an in-depth, hands-on farm training program for immigrants, refugees and other individuals from historically marginalized communities. As part of this program, many Somali immigrants, including Naima Dhore, have been able to find success in organic farming, sustaining the food system and carving out a niche for immigrant farmers to develop and hone agricultural skills. “The most important piece in the process for me has been letting [members of the East African community] know where their food is coming from and what their responsibilities are in terms of taking care of this planet that we all share,” said Dhore. “That’s the biggest takeaway.”

Read more at The Somali American. Continue Reading

Not your backbone: Black women want more from the DFL

This piece is part of Twin Cities Daily Planet’s series covering the 2018 elections season. Every year we’re moving towards a possibility of a more diverse legislature. And with it, we hope comes increased opportunities for communities historically shut out of political processes and power to imagine and enact policies to create a Minnesota that benefits all its constituents. Earlier this year, Ken Martin, chair of the Minnesota DFL, released a Black History Month statement acknowledging that Black women are essential to the party. In his statement, which was released shortly after several women from local organization Black Women Rising called for a meeting with the Chair, Martin wrote “Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. Continue Reading

Restoring an echo of humanity for inmates through a different kind of public health

Erin Sharkey is preparing for a nature writing course she will offer at the Faribault Correctional Facility, a medium security prison. “It would be great to be able to have people spend time in nature when they are thinking and writing about nature,” said Sharkey. As a local artist, writer and instructor at the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, Sharkey would like to bring in sensory-rich objects, such as leaves, as a writing prompt for the students. But, she is not allowed to take a leaf inside the prison so she brings pictures of leaves. The everyday struggle to maintain one’s humanity inside Minnesota prisons remains largely out of sight. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 9/12: ‘Disapproved Books:’ New Weisman exhibit highlights censorship in prison system

A new exhibit at the Weisman art museum, “The Section of Disapproved Books,” allows guests to look at and flip through over 400 books banned by prisons across the country. The library contains several popular covers, highlighting the subjective nature of prison book banning and encouraging visitors to think critically about the use of censorship in the prison system. “The goal would be to affect these regulations,” said creator Daniel McCarthy Clifford. “[Banning these books] is a pretty arbitrary process, and I think bringing awareness to it could affect some policy change.”

Find out more at MN Daily. Franklin/Hiawatha Native homeless encampment faces City-mandated removal by end of September

In the Franklin/Hiawatha corridor, many homeless Native individuals have formed a small community encampment, sleeping in tents and helping each other to survive the harshness of homeless living conditions, as well as receiving regular assistance from volunteers. Continue Reading