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

Continue reading

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

People occupying George Floyd Square issue demands for justice before 38th and Chicago reopens

June 7: Memorial at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.

Issue will come to a head in the next two week

Group says protests will expand if demands not met

People are pushing back on the city of Minneapolis’s efforts to reopen the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the site where police killed George Floyd, a black man, on May 25.

A group called Meet in the Streets has issued a five-page “Justice Resolution” to the city of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and the state of Minnesota, listing 24 actions that they need to meet before the group will stop occupying “George Floyd Square.”

The demands are substantial — including the recall of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman for “abdicating his responsibility to prosecute white police officers who have murdered Black civilians.”

Continue reading

A litany for those who aren’t ready for healing

People gathered Sunday, June 7, at the site where George Floyd was murdered.

Four years ago yesterday, July 6, Philando Castile was shot dead by St. Anthony police after he was stopped for driving with a broken tail light.

One of the officers asked Castille for his drivers license and registration. Castile informed the officer that he had a firearm (which he had a license to carry.) When Castile reached for paperwork, an officer shot him seven times at close range.

Castile joined the growing list of black men killed by police.

Hundreds of people gathered at Luther Seminary for a Service of Prayer and Lament honoring Castile’s life, one of many such services. A particularly moving part was a reading by Afro Christian scholar Rev. Yolanda Pierce called “A Litany for those who aren’t ready for healing.”

I came across it again today. Given George Floyd’s murder and the events that followed, it seems like an appropriate to reprint it. Continue reading

Religious institutions speak out on George Floyd’s murder, repent for past complicity, call for change

Police protect the Third Precinct. (file)

The President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said most police officers “carry out their duties with honor”

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the anger over long-standing problems with police brutality has boiled over to the streets. It’s put the question of the police’s role in society squarely on the front burner. Some are pushing to abolish the police altogether.

In this deeply moral moment, religious communities are weighing in, issuing statements on Floyd’s murder.

Faith communities have played an important role in civil rights movements. Their voices could be powerful in pushing for greater police accountability. This blog will follow how they engage in this important work in the coming months.

What follows is a summary of some of the initial statements on Floyd’s murder, including links and short excerpts. For those of you who are part of one of these faith communities, this is an opportunity to push them to follow through on their commitments and then some.

This list is based on an Internet search and may not be complete. Please post links to statements we missed in the comment section below.

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News Wrap: Updates on local, national police reform proposals; why this all started in Minneapolis, and more

In this blog:

  • Communities United Against Police Brutality issue report on ending police violence
  • Nationwide tracking of public officials, governments, in support for divesting from police to invest in community needs
  • CityLab: Why Minneapolis was the city that triggered a national uprising
  • NYT essay: Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true.
  • Friends offering online screening of “Suppressed: The Right to Vote” in honor of Juneteenth

Continue reading

Police reform, police abolition, and barriers to police accountability: An overview

There’s an ongoing gathering at the flower-strewn site where George Floyd was killed.

A veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council has committed to dismantle and defund the Minneapolis Police Department, according to stories in MPR, the Star Tribune, CNN and other news outlets.

In New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio is proposing to shift some police funding to social services, with the idea that such funding will do more to promote public safety than funding the tradition police force. Congressional Democrats have proposed the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 which “would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among other initiatives,” the Washington Post reports.

Continue reading

Minneapolis police union losing public support, MN unions press police union president to resign

The Minneapolis Police Department has become a toxic brand, and rightfully so.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Minneapolis Public Schools, the University of Minnesota, the Walker Art Center and other organizations have cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department following George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. (Floyd had allegedly tried to pass a fake $20 bill, a nonviolent crime.)

Key unions around the state are calling on Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Police Officers Association of Minneapolis, to resign over his handling of Floyd’s murder, his history of inflammatory statements, and his antagonism towards communities of color. Continue reading