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 →
If I got to ask one question at a presidential debate, it would be this: Christian teachings have long identified greed as one of the seven deadly sins. Do you think greed is a sin, and, if so, how do you define it and how would your policies address it, particularly the racial wealth gap?
(OK, I know, that’s more than one question. But if you only get one shot, you have to wrap in several follow-up questions.)
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis held an Enbridge Line 3 Town Hall meeting today in Bemidji; in spite of the statewide mask mandate for indoor gatherings, almost none of the 50 people in attendance wore masks, according to a report by Lakeland PBS. The event was held at the DoubleTree Hotel Conference Room.
Nancy Beaulieu, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, attended the event and tried unsuccessfully to get either the hotel staff or Bemidji police to enforce the mask mandate. Beaulieu also is the northern Minnesota organizer for MN350 and works to stop the Line 3 pipeline. (Full disclosure: The blog’s author is a colleague of Beaulieu’s, Facebook friends, and we have worked together on Stop Line 3 efforts.)
Beaulieu’s efforts to get the mask mandate enforced shows just how empty the mandate is, at least in Bemidji.
In terrific news for those opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, the Minnesota Department of Commerce late today announced it would refile its appeal to stop the project. (Thanks to MPR’s Dan Kraker for the tweet.) The case now heads to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The Walz administration faced a Wednesday deadline to file its appeal. The Governor hadn’t indicated which way he was leaning. The pressure was on.
Earlier today, Indigenous Nations and environmental groups filed a joint appeal to reject Line 3’s permits. Group representatives called on Walz to renew the state’s appeal at a press conference outside the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
“Yet again, the PUC has refused to acknowledge the reality that Line 3 would pose untenable costs to Minnesota, all to deliver tar sands oil we don’t need,” Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin said in a media release. “Their bad decision — ignoring state’s agencies’ recommendations, and based on a faulty process — would be devastating for Minnesota’s clean water and communities. The Court must reject the PUC’s decision once and for all.”
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the first time has established an official policy on Tribal Engagement and Consultation.
In it, the Commission commits to annual consultations with each Native Nation and establishing a formal process to consult with Native Nations throughout the year when specific issues emerge. Continue reading →
The Trump administration has done a lot to undermine our core democratic institutions and values. Trump has politicized the U.S. Justice Department. He’s undermined citizen confidence in our voting system and the free press. He’s used his office for personal gain. He’s doled out pardons as political favors. And now he’s messing with the U.S. Census.
His administration is shutting down the Census one month early, a decision that will lead to undercounts of black, Indigenous and other people of color. It will have significant consequences, from Congressional representation to school funding. Continue reading →