News Roundup 8/25: More dropped MOA charges, Minnehaha pesticides and a yard giraffe

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ST. PAUL – Clarence Hightower’s column in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder calls out the increase — more than 10,000 — of black Minnesotan children living in poverty since 2008.

These facts are particularly disconcerting when contrasted with Minnesota’s seemingly customary standing as one of the most prosperous states in America when it comes to any number of health and wellness indicators. In recent years, more and more data has demonstrated just how glaring the racial inequities in Minnesota are, including 24/7 Wall Street’s 2015 study that declared Minnesota the second worst state in America for blacks to live.

A call to action about a complex pernicious reality.

BROOKLYN PARK – Last week, you might have missed Igbofest in Brooklyn Park. [See photo at top.] KFAI’s David McDonald has a radio report from the festival, which celebrates Igbo culture and community. Sounds like fun.

BLOOMINGTON – The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder reports on more charges dropped in Mall of America/Black Lives Matter protest case. This time, it’s Deanne Pratt, a shopper caught up in the protest by aggressive police. Here’s her story:

“I was on my way to the Apple store and I could not get past the police, so I was forced to leave through the parking ramp and that’s when the police grabbed me from behind. They immediately handcuffed me and I asked them why. I tried to explain that I was hearing impaired and needed to visually see what they were saying, but they kept talking to me from behind.

“I was then told that I was being arrested for trespassing and I was totally stunned because I was in the process of leaving the premises,” continued Pratt. They took those of us who were arrested to a dark, unlit, unpaved parking lot in a van and we were taken out one by one, processed in a dirt parking lot with no lights, and were then told to leave without being given any direction as to where we were or where to go.

Read the rest of the article, and stay tuned for this ongoing story.

ST. ANTHONY PARK – Anna Dick Gambucci pens a must-read column in the Park Bugle titled “My white journey into #BlackLivesMatter.” The title is self-explanatory. Gambucci attended a solidarity training last year and talks about how it changed her perspective. Here are some tips:

Notice and shift away from white defensiveness and white fragility in the face of personal challenge. Avoid white savior-ism—it saves nobody and perpetuates the status quo. Include marginalized folks at the outset of all discussion regarding their and our collective needs, since, as they say, “Anything for us, without us, is against us.”

Recognize that it’s not enough to aim to be a “good white person”; our goal should be to end racial oppression and exclusion and to disrupt and overturn systems of white supremacy.

The rest of the piece is both thoughtful and personal. Well worth the read.

MINNEHAHA PARK – The Southside Pride reports on a fascinating exchange that took place on an eDemocracy forum. The paper’s garden columnist, Charley Underwood, noticed signs along the creek bluff declaring the presence of Roundup (the Monsanto weed-killing chemical). She asked why, especially given the typical presence of children in the area.

A discussion quickly emerged, and resulted in Minneapolis Park officials taking notice, apologizing, and saying they would make sure that it won’t happen again. [Scroll down.]

MINNETONKA – Insight News reports from a meeting about “culturally informed autism treatment” featuring Mikala Mukongolwa, an expert on autism from Zambia. [See photo at top.] It’s part of an international exchange that aims to help treatment in both countries.

MINNEAPOLIS – You might have missed this Insight News column on being “Afro-Latino,” by Minneapolis architect James Garrett Jr.

It’s worth a read:

Another example, I stepped out a bar a few years ago to take a call from one of my friends in Colombia. An African American guy I know stepped out around the same time to smoke a cigarette. When I finished my call and opened the door to go back in, he turned to me and said, “WOW! All this time, I thought you were one of US…” because surely i was a ‘foreigner’ if i was able to speak Spanish like that. Although partially true, I found his comment offensive and spent the next half-hour explaining the transatlantic slave trade and how ALL of our ancestors were on the same boats…

COMO PARK – Finally, have you ever seen the highly unusual giraffe-shaped garden topiary sculptures at the corner of Hoyt and Lexington in Saint Paul? [See photo at top.]

(You know, like in Edward Scissorhands?)

Well, the Park Bugle has the scoop behind the grass giraffe and other strange sights from the area. The giraffe is the handiwork of homeowner Quentin Nguyen:

He’s “just an amateur guy” who wants to make his lawn on the corner of Lexington and Hoyt avenues in Como Park look nice and give his neighbors and the commuters who drive past that corner lot a reason to smile.

Read the rest to see what else Nguyen is planning.

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