Day of Prayer at George Floyd Square

Decades of frustration over lack of police accountability

In this blog:

  • George Floyd Square supporters: City has failed to hold police accountable, respond to demands
  • “No Justice, No Streets” yard signs available
  • Zoom conference Tuesday, March 2: Seeking justice, caring for community
  • Day of Prayer at George Floyd Square March 8, when trial starts
Continue reading

Two Line 3 workers arrested for soliciting sex as part of human trafficking sting

The Duluth News Tribune reported Tuesday that two of the seven people arrested in a northern Minnesota human trafficking sting were Enbridge Line 3 workers, “fueling concern that construction of the oil pipeline is bringing a higher risk of sex crimes to the area.”

Arrested were:

  • Michael Kelly West, 53, of Rolla, Missouri, who was charged with one count of carrying a pistol without a permit and one count of solicitation to engage in prostitution.
  • Matthew Ty Hall, 33, of Mount Pleasant, Texas, who was charged with one count of solicitation of a person believed to be a minor.

The sting involved web ads that engaged potential customers in sex-for-money conversations, the story said. Perhaps of most concern, West told arresting officers he heard about the ads “from rumors at work.”

That means this isn’t an isolated incident; other workers are talking about it.

[Update: StarTribune story here.]

Continue reading

Proposed legislation to waive building codes for traditional Dakota earthlodges, and other news

In this blog:

  • Legislation would waive building codes, allow traditional Dakota structures
  • Buddhists and friends invited to Water Protectors Welcome Center Feb. 28
  • Civil Rights arm of the bar association links environmental racism to higher pandemic rates and other harms
Continue reading

Line 3: Don’t be distracted from the true danger

Screen grab of Unicorn Riot’s feed showing part of Friday’s protest.

Friday’s bomb scare in Carlton County will be used by some to make water protectors seem dangerous, shifting attention away from real dangers posed by the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Water protectors were demonstrating against Line 3 in Carlton County Friday. As the event was happening, the county received a 9-1-1 call reporting a “suspicious device,” the Sheriff’s Office said. A news story called it “a suspicious package thrown into a pipeline construction area.”

The county’s response was quick and perhaps excessive. It called in the bomb squad. Law enforcement evacuated 40 nearby residences within a half-mile radius of the device. Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake called in regional and federal law enforcement. She’s calling for maximum charges and penalties.

There was no bomb. Still, placing a “replica device” that causes fear and panic is a crime.

The incident occurred near Camp Migizi, an Indigenous-led frontline resistance camp, but the protests that day were several miles away from where the incident occurred.

There’s been no information released that ties the incident to Camp Migizi or the protest. There have been no arrests. Yet without evidence, Enbridge and others are blaming water protectors.

Continue reading

Holocaust survivors continue to receive German reparations payments to this day

Part of an ongoing series exploring reparations

By Vic Rosenthal and Scott Russell

Jewish men in the Radom ghetto March, 1941. They were forced to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David to mark them as outsiders. Photo: Brenner/Wikimedia Commons

Sarah (not her real name) was a teenager in Radom, Poland when Germany invaded her country in September, 1939, the start of World War II.

Now a U.S. citizen in her 90s, she remembers living in extreme poverty and constant hunger in the Radom ghetto. Many men were taken away and never seen again. Sarah was forced into slave labor, her brother taken away. She and her mother were sent on a death march to Auschwitz and later Bergen Belsen.

“More than five years in ghettos with poverty and starvation and two death marches, but I survived,” she said. “I don’t know how.”

Continue reading

Line 3 updates: Pressure on Biden, new frontline treaty camp, ELCA bishop releases statement, and more

In this blog:

  • Water protectors travel to Milwaukee today to tell President Biden to Stop Line 3
  • Invitation as the RISE Coalition opens new frontline treaty and prayer camp in Bagley Saturday-Sunday
  • Virtual tour of Camp Migizi Wednesday at 2 p.m.
  • Minneapolis ELCA Bishop says listen to Indigenous voices on Line 3
  • Gizmodo: Facebook favors Enbridge ads in Line 3 controversy
  • Freeborn County in far southern Minnesota ponders sending deputies north to respond to Line 3 resistance
Continue reading

Early Enbridge data shows company falling short on its Line 3 jobs promises

Enbridge claims $180 million spending in Native American economic development

Enbridge knew it had an uphill climb to get state regulators to approve its expanded Line 3 pipeline project through northern Minnesota. To sway them, it pitched local job creation and a separate economic development plan for Native Americans.

It worked. Line 3 construction is underway.

While the work is far from over, early numbers show Enbridge falling behind on its promises to create local jobs. It says its already exceeded its promises to provide a $100 million economic boost to Native nations, bands, and individual workers.

Continue reading

Acknowledging my mistake, thankful for the reminder

Dear Readers: It’s important to admit when you make a mistake and this is one of those times.

I have gotten deserved push back on yesterday’s blog on the looming March 8 trial of Derek Chauvin, who’s charged with the murder of George Floyd. That post leaned heavily on a statement from the city of Minneapolis about its plans to reopen 38th and Chicago — George Floyd Square — after the trial.

Several friends have written, upset the blog lacked any community voices critical of the city’s plans. It was a great reminder. A hallmark of this blog is that it centers marginalized voices and stories, not institutional ones. I understand why people reading the blog felt I had broken trust with that mission.

I rushed to run a piece of news the traditional media was reporting anyway. I regret not holding off until I could center community voices to provide critical perspective and shape the story. A follow-up is in the works. Thanks to everyone who wrote for getting me to refocus on what’s core to the blog.

As Derek Chauvin trial looms, city plans to reopen George Floyd Square, Walz readies National Guard, residents organize events

File: George Floyd memorial at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.

The City of Minneapolis plans to reopen George Floyd Square at 38th & Chicago, which community members have shut down since police killed Floyd at the intersection on May 25. The reopening won’t happen until after a verdict is rendered on former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is going on trial March 8 for second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin will be tried separately from three other former Minneapolis police officers charged in aiding and abetting in Floyd’s death. The Minnesota Court of Appeals today rejected an appeal by prosecutors to delay the trial until later this summer and to try all four defendants together, the Star Tribune reported.

Gov. Tim Walz agreed to deploy the Minnesota National Guard to quell any unrest that might follow the trial, MPR reports. The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul had sought the help.

Meanwhile, various groups are planning educational events and prayer vigils around the trial.

Continue reading