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

“Painting is to easel” South High students unearth racism in standardized testing

This documentary, put together by students at Minneapolis South High School, takes a critical look towards the cultural bias that has been integrated into standardized testing. Often times standardized tests cater to a small demographic that is the white middle class. In the film, the students unearth overt racism with deep roots in standardized tests such as the ACT and SAT.

“High-stakes standardized testing is a form of child labor, because you’re using children to make profit,” said Vichet Chhuon, associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Continue Reading

The Twin Cities Daily Planet’s Best of 2015

The Daily Planet’s 2015 was a time of pivoting and changing to a new direction. In our renewed mission to amplify and connect marginalized voices, we are excited to see the following stories resonated with you as much as they did with us. All stories below were chosen based on social media or website analytics to determine the most-viewed and/or most-talked-about content. But even if you take away the metrics, these stories were the ones that dug a little deeper, brought more context and empowered the communities that we serve.

Thanks for a great year. We can’t wait to see what 2016 brings.

— The Daily Planet Editorial Team Continue Reading

#BlackShoppersMatter: Racially profiled at Eagan outlet mall

A viral video that shows four African-American shoppers being accused of theft at the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan has caused anger and outrage and sparked accusations of racism of mall personnel and of Eagan police. It’s not clear what led up to the point when the four shoppers at the mall were surrounded by police and mall security, but the feeling of the four is clear – they say it is an obvious case of racial profiling.The video, which was posted on March 11 to social media by one of the accused, Art Haggins – just hours after the stop happened – shows police questioning the shoppers in the mall courtyard about possible stolen items. According to Haggins, the group was accused of stealing $11 worth of makeup from the Makeup Outlet. Police said they were called by an employee in the mall who accused the group of shoplifting. The group was searched and showed receipts for all of their purchases and even at one point in the video it shows the contents of a purse scattered on the ground. Haggins said the contents scattered from his girlfriend’s purse as an officer pulled the purse away from her. In the video at least six Eagan police officers can be seen questioning the shoppers. Continue Reading

FBI director on police violence

I kept waiting for someone to call out the FBI director James Comey’s recent so-called candid speech on race. Surprisingly too few people did, but he clearly should be called out because he didn’t have an honest conversation about race. However, he reminded us that this is more likely to stay the way it is.An honest conversation would have included telling cops to stop brutalizing and murdering U.S. citizens, not justifying their savage behavior. While people like the socially unaware Don Lemon of CNN applauded FBI director James Comey’s speech saying he was courageous. The truth is that the director actually codified and gave justification to police violence aimed at Black folks, while at the same time blaming Black folks for their own victimization by law enforcement.To be fair, he acknowledged that it is the unjust system that has put Black folks in the position they are in. Continue Reading