Community Voices: Beyond Repair – While Republicans and Democrats unite to increase police power, others point to new way forward

Virtually unnoticed in the cacophony of the Trumpian news cycle, a bill to place more power in the hands of police slithered through the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support – including from such progressive Democratic luminaries as Luis Gutiérrez, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The “Serve and Protect Act” (H.R.5698) comes packaged as a necessary measure to protect our brave officers “who put on the badge every day to keep us safe” from the dangers of an imaginary “War on Police.” Specifically, it would impose prison terms of up to ten years for harming or attempting to harm officers of any local, state or federal agencies of what is euphemistically called “law enforcement.” If convicted of carrying out or attempting a kidnapping or killing of an officer, the accused could be imprisoned for life. The Senate version even designates police as an oppressed “protected class” under hate crime laws. The legislation is designed to increase police power in communities of color, strengthen the fortress of police impunity and reinforce the plea-bargain-to-prison conveyor belt. Its targets are anyone the police decide they want to see locked up. These are the same police, after all, who routinely insist that children playing with toys, young men shopping at Walmart, residents reaching for their ID, teenagers trying to drive away, neighbors holding cell phones and motorists calmly disclosing their legal firearm to police are aggressors poised to kill them. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 7/5: MPD officers encouraged use of ketamine to sedate suspects

A new report indicates that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has encouraged Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to use ketamine to sedate suspects, even in cases when the individual was already restrained and in cases when there was no evidence of any crime committed. The report states that the use of ketamine on those arrested has increased from three usages in 2012 to 67 in 2017. Ketamine is a powerful sedative drug that creates a trance-like state as well as inducing hallucinations and memory loss. “I would say fairly comfortably based on conversations I’ve had with folks [that] it is Black folks who are ‘noncompliant,’ that are being affected the most,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham. “That’s frustrating.”
Read more at The Spokesman-Recorder. Continue Reading

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