Another case of white supremacy policing, Maryland repeals ‘Police Bill of Rights,’ and a look at ‘excited delirium’

Screen grab for body-worn video camera

As the Derek Chauvin trial begins its third week, as Maryland’s legislature passes a law to address police abuses, the latest example of excessive force by police against a person of color has emerged in a lawsuit filed against cops in Windsor, Va.

On Dec. 5, police officers pulled over U.S. Army officer Caron Nazario, drawing their guns and shouting at him to get out of his car, ABC News reported.

Nazario, who is black and Latino, tells them he’s afraid to get out of his car.

The officer responds angrily: “You should be.”

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We are all witnesses

Screen grab of witnesses to George Floyd’s murder from police bodycam video posted by CNN.

I have been deeply moved listening to the Derek Chauvin trial, hearing eye witnesses describe their experiences of watching George Floyd’s murder and trying desperately to intervene. Perhaps you could feel yourself transported to the intersection, too.

I watch in awe as the people on the sidewalk, young and old, express their outrage, doing everything they could to plead, cajole, and shame the officers to save Floyd’s life.

Then I hear them in court, distraught that they didn’t do more. It’s heartbreaking, especially given the incredible courage they showed.

And somewhere in that reflection, it strikes me that I am a witness everyday. There’s racism all around me. And like those who stood on the sidewalk, I have the opportunity to act.

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Minneapolis police use of “less lethal” force criticized for head shots, cop complaints rarely end with discipline, and more

In this blog:

  • Study: Minneapolis police use of “less-lethal” force during George Floyd protests caused serious injuries
  • The Bad Cops: How Minneapolis protects its worst police officers until it’s too late
  • Minneapolis police misconduct payouts rising
  • Minneapolis Charter amendment updates
  • How will the Minneapolis City Council’s racial justice promises affect important neighborhood redevelopment decisions?
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What does “racial healing” look like? Minneapolis leaders need more clarity

Here’s the pattern: Another tragic injustice happens against a black or brown body. People take to the streets. Law enforcement cracks down. Civic leaders call for “racial healing.”

When I read “racial healing,” I am reminded of the powerful way Christine McCleave defined it in her recent blog Healing in these Traumatic Times. McCleave is an enrolled citizen of Turtle Mountain Ojibwe Nation, CEO for the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, and a member of the city of Minneapolis’ recently formed Truth and Reconciliation Workgroup.

Healing requires “that we acknowledge the harm, the injustices, and what those who have benefited from the injustice have gained,” she writes. But healing also requires “that we transform the systems of inequity and oppression into systems of equity and liberation AND abide by the promise to do no further harm.

The City of Minneapolis has pledged more than $10.5 million to support “racial healing” in the 38th & Chicago area, also known as George Floyd Square.

It doesn’t appear city leaders have a clear understanding of what “racial healing” means.

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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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