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
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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.

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How will Minnesota law enforcement respond to Line 3 protests?

Hint: It’s a secret

Almost two years ago, Unicorn Riot published an investigative piece on how the state of Minnesota was preparing to respond to expected protests over construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. (Multi-Agency Task Force Prepares “Rules of Engagement” For Line 3 Protests.)

It pulled the curtain back on the “Northern Lights Task Force,” a group that was “stockpiling equipment and training police in preparation for Line 3 pipeline protests across the state.”

The coordination involved law enforcement agencies from states across the region including Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Documents showed that state officials had created an incident ‘Mobile Response Teams’ (or ‘MRTs’) to rapidly deploy and “confront any protest against the pipeline” in each of the State Patrol districts.

More than four months ago, when it began to look like the state would approved Line 3, Healing Minnesota Stories wrote the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to ask for basic information on the Northern Lights Task Force.

So far, the department hasn’t provided any information.

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Line 3 protesters jailed in Aitkin County call COVID protection inadequate, a form of ‘intimidation’

Line 3 protest near the Mississippi River in Aitken County.

Simone Senogles, Mary Breen, Priya Dalal-Whelan, and Josh Phenow were four of the 22 people arrested Monday in Aitkin County for civil disobedience against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

The action happened where Enbridge plans to bore a tunnel under the Mississippi River for the pipeline. A lot of people think boring a tunnel under the Mississippi River is a really bad idea. The protest was on public land where Enbridge holds an easement. The site had “No Trespassing” signs posted.

Most water protectors received misdemeanor charges for trespass and unlawful assembly, seemingly minor offenses. Nonetheless, they spent the night in jail worrying about COVID exposure for themselves and their friends.

Senogles and Breen were among nine arrestees transported in a crowded van. The driver didn’t wear a mask, Breen said. The women were held in an overcrowded cell, with four sleeping on the floor. Not all jailers wore masks or wore them properly.

Senogles, a member of the Red Lake Nation and staff for the Indigenous Environmental Network, attended the action to live stream it and provide media support. She hadn’t planned on participating in the action. In the moment, she found herself wanting “to hold the line.”

“I live on the Mississippi River,” she said. “I couldn’t sit in my home, and look out on the beautiful river, if I wasn’t willing to engage in civil resistance to protect it.”

“We don’t need the oil,” she said. “It’s not serving the common good.”

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Patriots or vigilantes? Off Grid Armory’s Facebook posts during Bemidji’s curfew sound residents’ alarm bells

Part 3 in a series on Bemidji’s May 30-31 evening curfews and the community fallout

In late May, Bemidji law enforcement had what it believed were credible threats that violent left-wing extremists were coming to burn the city. While that threat never materialized, the city had to contend with people associated with an area gun shop volunteering to help law enforcement “protect” the town.

When citizens learned the next day about the gun shop group’s presence, it made some feel less safe.

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Court OK’s federal law enforcement officers assaulting journalists and observers in Portland protests

A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “has just stripped away the protections granted to journalists and legal observers covering ongoing protests against racism in Portland, Oregon,” according to the website Techdirt.com.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a restraining order barring federal officers deployed to Portland “from using physical force, arresting or dispersing anyone they should ‘reasonably know’ is at the protests as a journalist or observer — unless the officers had probable cause to suspect the person had committed a crime,” reported the website OPB.

The Ninth Circuit panel stayed Judge Simon’s restraining order, “finding that a blanket order protecting journalists and observers from being assaulted makes things too tough for federal cops,” according to Techdirt’s analysis.

The case now goes to the full Ninth District Court of Appeals. Continue reading

Will Biden and Trump denounce the Boston Tea Party?

In an earlier post, I offered the question I would most like to ask in the upcoming presidential debates. If I got a second one, it would be this: “You both have denounced the recent street violence that erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. Do you therefore also denounce the violence and property destruction of John Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock and the other organizers of the Boston Tea Party? Continue reading

News: David Smith’s death 10 years ago echoes George Floyd’s; key PolyMet decision expected Thursday, and more

In this blog:

  • Washington Post: How Minneapolis police handled the in-custody death of a Black man 10 years before George Floyd
  • WaterLegacy: Key PolyMet decision expected this Thursday, Sept. 3
  • The Intercept: Trump Supporters Rush to Defend One of Their Own Who Killed Protesters in Kenosha
  • The Koncow Maidu’s Trail of Tears in California

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White supremacists stoke fears, escalate conflicts, spark vigilante action

Part I in a series

Source: Google map.

In the small northern Minnesota town of Bemidji, population 15,404, concerns spread among civic leaders in late May that violent activists from outside the area were coming to burn their city.

This was just days after George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Protests and uprisings were happening in large urban areas across the country.

Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel said that his office had received information that buses “filled with protestors were headed to Bemidji,” according to the Duluth News Tribune, “… extremist organizations planned to infiltrate the peaceful protests … including starting fires.”

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht imposed evening curfews for the weekend of May 30 and 31.

Bemidji had good reason to worry — not about phantom arsonists but white supremacists escalating fear and tension. Continue reading