On justice and Mike Freeman’s decision

For me, the issue is justice, and justice was not served by Mike Freeman’s decision. Other articulate people chose words very well: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” In saying this, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds me about the role of power (at its best). In Mr. Freeman’s decision, we had the power, but in service of an abusive and oppressive system. Mahatma Gandhi had this to say: “There is a higher court than courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” Conscience says that killing an unarmed person is wrong—period! Continue Reading

Hey Minnesota House: there are privacy concerns with license plate readers

On average, less than one percent of plates paired up with a hotlist/watchlist, and even fewer lead to an arrest, according to the data I have received in data requests. So the question is why should we be keeping data on innocent and law-abiding people for any length of time 30 days, 60 days, three months. I oppose collection of license plate reader data on innocent people. Continue Reading

Dueling State of the City Events Reveal Rift Between Rhetoric and Reality of Inequality

These days it’s hard to tell whether Minneapolis is united about being divided. Last week, two contrasting “state of the city” events — Mayor Betsy Hodges official speech at the American Swedish Institute, and a rally the next morning organized a North-side grassroots group — illustrated the ongoing tension between the rhetoric and reality of racial inequality in Minneapolis.Hodges’ speech, an annual tradition for mayors across the country, emphasized the themes that led her to an easy victory in the 2013 election. As Gino Terrell wrote on the Daily Planet earlier this week, Hodges stressed education, income inequality, and climate change, as part of her plans for the upcoming year. But the well-received speech comes only months after Hodges’ efforts to devote city resources to addressing inequality became surprisingly contentious. During budget debates at City Hall, Hodges’ plans to address racial inequality sparked a small controversy, particularly in parts of the city that are struggling the most with foreclosures and racial inequality. While debating the budget, Council Members Yang and Warsame and other Council Members  voted to defund part of Mayor Hodges’ key proposals in favor of more “meat and potatoes” issues that impact neighborhoods like Jordan or Cedar-Riverside, home to many  of the highest proportions of people of color in the city. Continue Reading

St. Patrick’s Day disturbances create concerns

“Banish bias, but keep downtown livable,” blared the Star Tribuneeditorial of Monday, March 23, 2015, warning about unacceptable public behavior threatening urban revival while avoiding the frustrations of exclusion felt by African Americans.Since 2006, I have written over 100 columns and blog entries about the need for plans to deal with this, which have gone unheeded (they are listed in our “Solution Paper #47”). The Star Tribune is belatedly reinforcing what this column and newspaper have reported (see column of January 14, 2015: “Promises, Promises, Promises…with no follow through”). We need to signal to young African Americans that the broader community is listening to their expressions of frustration, concern and anger.The solution is not to continue touting prosperity for one segment of the population while carrying out calculated bias against another segment hindering their prosperity. Backlash will dramatically drop if paths to prosperity are open through education and jobs.The St. Patrick Day flash-mob “fun entertainment” disruption (over 300 young people enjoyed fighting with each other for over two-and-a-half hours on the streets of downtown Minneapolis) also caused injuries, including the shooting of two individuals, one in front of Target Field, the other one on West Broadway. Continue Reading

MOA outwitted after Twitter fiasco

 Black Lives Matter exposes U.S. economic hypocrisyThe Mall of America (MOA) got caught with its underwear around its ankles last week when it tried to launch a #itsmymall Twitter campaign to promote the mall and to try to overcome the black eye it gave itself after its inane, but predictable, response to the peaceful anti-police violence protest last December.MOA has been trying to prosecute, persecute and defame activists from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, primarily because its protest took the position that the mall is public space, because it takes and receives public dollars and public subsidy. In an absolute stroke of genius, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis with its pro-Mike Brown, Eric Garner and anti-police violence protest in December, exposed the hypocrisy of private enterprise receiving public funding and public subsidy while enforcing private property rights.By hosting a protest at the mall, Black Lives Matter treated the mall as a public space, a town square, since receiving public dollars makes it, well, public. Ironically, by launching a campaign (#itsmymall), implying that the MOA is the people’s mall, it makes the point of Black Lives Matter, which is, it is a public space. So which is it, MOA, our mall or your mall?It also reveals that the MOA is experiencing financial pain as a result of the Boycott Mall of America campaign launched by Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter and all of us who joined the protest are correct: So-called private entities that take public monies (or public anything) that comes from taxpayers should not be afforded the rights of private property or private enterprise.What Black Lives Matter inadvertently exposed was the slick underbelly of U.S. economics, and that is that this system uses its citizens and their money to support the enrichment of big business. Continue Reading