Archive | FEATURED

Voices of an uprising

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Holding space at George Floyd Memorial site

“Come. Bear witness,” says Roosevelt High School teacher Marcia Howard. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

By JILL BOOGREN
In the weeks following the brutal killing of George Floyd outside of Cup Foods, the four corners of 38th St. and Chicago Ave. have become sacrosanct. Buildings are adorned with portraits of George Floyd, large and small. A sculpture of a Black Power fist stands in the middle of the intersection, another is secured against a bus shelter. Elaborate drawings and messages are painted on the street. Flowers and written tributes are arranged in broad circles, expressions of grief.
Each day people from all walks of life gather here from near and far to pay tribute, demand justice and march in community. Food is served from hot grills, music is played, families walk with their young children, talking to them about what they are seeing here. The space is ever evolving, changing daily, with placards and flowers placed under tarps when rain falls, then lovingly rearranged the following day.
Marcia Howard, who lives just a few houses away from the four corners, has had her eyes and ears on the site day in and day out, providing deeply moving updates to friends and community. Here, posted on her Facebook page on June 9 at 8:20 am, are her words describing this space:
“It’s a memorial, it’s a protest, it’s a repast, it’s a movement. The site of 38th and Chicago Ave. is many things at once. That space is being held as an autonomous protest site by the tireless efforts of the people who patrol for safety, provide medical care, distribute food, feed the mourners, provide music, and stand in solidarity every hour of the day. It is being held by all those who are here as a pilgrimage, and those here to take photos, or here to speak, while some are here to cry, while others are here to scream the names of our dead.

Marcia Howard has been posting updates from the George Floyd Memorial Site, often with a selfie of her own.

“This space is being held by all of these people. Depending on the hour of the day, the site of George Floyd’s murder looks and feels like Grand Old Days, or a Baptist revival, an art festival, a New Orleans jazz funeral, a block party, and the headquarters of the revolution. Yet, every hour that I am there, it feels like community. It takes all our presence to hold the space. Come. Bear witness. Listen to the voices demanding justice. Add your own so that we can be heard. Come one, come all. Say her name. Say his name. Say their names.”
Ms. Howard, as this beloved Roosevelt High School teacher is known, is on site multiple times each day, always wearing a mask because of the pandemic. On June 3, the day the three other officers present when George Floyd was killed were charged, she ran to the intersection, video rolling.
“They charged ‘em all. All of ‘em. Aiding and Abetting, and they upgraded the murder charge,” she called. Tears flowed as the crowd erupted in cheers. “All of ‘em! All of ‘em!” To which someone else called out, “Conviction!”
On one rare occasion, after going a whole morning without hearing his name, Ms. Howard set aside her teacher voice, raised a bullhorn and addressed the people gathered in front of Cup Foods.
“Everybody who saw that film knows [what happened],” she said. “Notice how secure this man was [referring to Derek Chauvin, as he pressed his knee against George Floyd’s neck] that he would not get caught. That he would not get in trouble. That he smirked. And put his hands in his pockets… Do you understand the security of white supremacy that you have to feel to do something so egregiously wrong, so antithetical to your job as a police officer, that you don’t even feel… fear at all? At all?… I’m telling you now, Minnesota though, we gonna hold ‘em accountable, Yeah?”
With the crowd shouting “YES”! in agreement, Ms. Howard led the call and response that has become so familiar here and in marches throughout the city, the one she especially needed to hear that day. “Say his name.” “George Floyd!” “Say his name.” “George Floyd!” “Say his name.” “George Floyd!”

(Photo by Jill Boogren)

Comments Off on Voices of an uprising

‘We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Protesters at Minnehaha Parkway and Nokomis Ave. serve as visual reminders

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Nokomis resident Laurie Meyers protests at Minnehaha and Nokomis. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Stefanie Beniek is driven to be a visual reminder every Monday night from 5-7 p.m. at Minnehaha Parkway and Nokomis Ave.
The group of local residents started gathering at that corner shortly after George Floyd was murdered a mile away at 38th and Chicago, pulled together by Tanya Ketcham via a Facebook event.
“We’re still seeking justice for George Floyd,” said Beniek. “There’s lots of other people who have been murdered by police and we are seeking justice for them – like Breonna Taylor. We want to be out here. We’re not going to forget. We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before.”
Beniek and her husband, Tim Hereid, have lived near the Keeywadin school campus for 10 years.
In addition to helping organize the twice-weekly protests in Nokomis East, Beniek has been volunteering at the Calvary Food Shelf at Chicago and 39th. She’s also working with Acupuncturists Without Borders to start a clinic to help people protesting nearby process trauma.

Nokomis Community School – Wenonah campus second grade teacher Rebecca Priglmeier. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

‘Thank you’
The attendance at the corner of Minnehaha and Nokomis has waxed and waned since it started the week after George Floyd died. On nights when it is larger, such as the evening after George Floyd’s memorial, they have a moment of silence at 6 p.m. There might be a few speakers. Someone might roam around with a petition.
The response from passersby varies, too. On Friday, June 12, 2020, they received a lot of “thank yous” and fists held high from drivers and bikers. One woman yelled, “Thanks for keeping it in front of our faces.”
Being an ally
Nokomis Community School – Wenonah campus second grade teacher Rebecca Priglmeier is driven to protest because of her students, “who had to be witness to all of this, as if this year wasn’t hard enough.”
Priglmeier explained, “I think white people need to be allies. This isn’t going to change without everybody’s help.”
She pointed to the 88 people of color killed by police this year in the United States, and school shootings. “I want kids to not have to live in fear – especially not kids of color. It’s enough. It has to stop.”

Nick and Rebecca Kimpton, and their four-year-old daughter, Bea. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

‘We can no longer be silent’
Nick and Rebecca Kimpton, and their four-year-old daughter, Bea, stood with a large Black Lives Matter sign on Friday night, June 12. They bring their young daughter along because “it’s never too early to teach about race and teach them to be part of the solution,” observed R. Kimpton. They hope their daughter grows up to be part of the change.

“We feel like there is a lot of momentum right now and we want to keep it going,” said Rebecca. “Finally some real change can happen.”
They’re working to be more aware, and to talk to the people in their circle of influence – within their family, neighborhood, and workplace.
“Ever since the murder of George Floyd, we knew we needed to take a more active role in change in our city,” added Nick. “We’re here because now is the turning point in our society to dismantle the systematic racism. We know we can no longer be silent.”

Photo by Tesha M. Christensen

 

Comments Off on ‘We’re not going to go on with our lives the way things were before’

Art heals the soul

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Community healing mural is first to go up at George Floyd Memorial site on Chicago and 38th Ave.

Photo by Margie O’Loughlin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
When artist and community activist Christopheraaron Deanes heard about George Floyd’s death, he went right to 38th St. and Chicago Ave. – but he didn’t show up empty handed. He came fully armed with art supplies, including a huge roll of canvas donated on-the-spot by Wet Paint in St. Paul.
He and his wife, arts administrator Cara Deanes, had reached out to the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center (CAFAC): a non-profit devoted to art forms produced by heat, spark, or flame and located steps away from the memorial site. They offered their space for whatever might come, trusting that something creative and engaging would emerge to support the community.
As it turned out, there would be heat, spark, and flame aplenty. Lake Street began to burn on Tuesday night, but the memorial site near where George Floyd was killed would remain almost completely undisturbed.
Christopheraaron and Cara Deanes knew how important it was to make a way for people to express their pain, frustration, and anger through art. They unrolled the nine-foot-wide piece of canvas and attached it to a fence at CAFAC.Christopheraaron made a loose sketch of an African American man with his arms outstretched – surrendering. Community members were invited to join in, painting, writing, touching the canvas.

UNITY AND CHANGE
Christopheraaron and Cara Deanes are Director and Coordinator for the ROHO Collective. Roho is a Swahili word meaning soul or spirit. The mission of the collective is to embrace, support and nurture artists of color. The artists involved strive to have a positive impact on the Twin Cities by making art that is a powerful force for unity, empowerment, and change.

Christopheraaron said, “The messages people painted helped them deal with the trauma they experienced and the internal turmoil we all felt from the murder of George Floyd. Everybody saw those last moments of his life over and over again. It took a lot of humanity away from us.”
The Deanes would return to the memorial site many times. When Christopheraaron was there on June 8, he said, “It seemed like the art community had really expanded. The names of people murdered by police were painted on the street, and those names went on and on. I was reading them slowly to my eight-year-

Roho Collective artists, along with members of the community, came together in peace and unity at the Chicago Avenue Fire and Arts Center to paint this dedication to George Floyd. Left to right: Cara Deanes, Christopheraaron Deanes, Sean Phillips, and Stephanie Morris-Gandy. (Photo submitted)

old daughter, one by one, and I started to cry. It broke my heart.”

Christopheraaron continued, “I felt like the healing process was starting for me, too. This is how we experience the power of healing through art; we believe it is with full engagement of our senses.”
“What does healing from trauma look like? For me it looks like people of color rallying: making statements and poignant gestures in the community. What does it sound like? It sounds like the ring of my white colleagues calling and texting to ask, ‘What can I do now?’ What does it feel like? All of the smiling, and crying, and laughing, and shouting – it feels like empathy and action are growing.”
When Christopheraaron first arrived at the memorial site on May 26, lugging paints and a blank roll of canvas, he said, “I had no idea what I was going to paint or what was going to happen. My wife Cara, who knows me so well said, ‘Just do what comes out.’ Hundreds of people participated in the mural making, and put the mark of their hands on the canvas. Tens of thousands of people have seen the community mural by now.”
He said, “Creativity isn’t a matter of the haves and have-nots. It isn’t the privilege of the young or a luxury of the old. It is an essential piece of humanity. Through art, we aim to empower everyone to changes their lives – and change the world.”
For more information on the Roho Collective and the work of Christopheraaron Deanes, visit www.rohocollective.org. The community mural at Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center will remain up indefinitely, until the Floyd Family collects it for their personal archives.

Comments Off on Art heals the soul

ABOLISH THE POLICE: Local residents talk about why they support movement

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Smoke billows from E. Lake St. and Minnehaha the morning after a night of fire. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Editor’s note: In an effort to support a conversation about a current initiative in Minneapolis, I talked to three local activists and Longfellow business owners about defunding the police for this article. There are also suggested resources within the article for learning more. We welcome signed letters to the editor talking about the pros and cons as you see them, as we know there are lot of opinions about this initiative and one article can only include pieces of the larger conversation. We will continue to cover this issue as it unfolds. Email news@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com.

You can’t miss the sign at Moon Palace Books, three buildings down from the Third Precinct at 3032 Minnehaha Ave.

Moon Palace Books owners Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl support a change to the police and prison system in favor of one that is “actually designed to keep the people in our communities safe.” (Photo by Jill Boogren)

ABOLISH THE POLICE
Before nine Minneapolis City Council members announced their intent to defund the police; before the National Guard was called to quell an uprising the size of which had never before been seen in Minneapolis; before 31 buildings in the neighborhood were burned and many more damaged; before countless peaceful protesters and journalists were injured – Moon Palace books had taken a stand.
Owners Jamie and Angela Schwesnedl have been active with and supportive of different organizations and campaigns for prison and police abolition for over 25 years.
“Many communities in our society have been prevented from functioning and thriving because of the police, and the institutions of white supremacy and predatory capitalism that the police protect and enforce,” the couple pointed out. “We absolutely need to figure out ways to keep all of our neighbors and communities safe. The Minneapolis Police Department was not created or designed to keep everyone safe, and it hasn’t functioned to do that.”
They support defunding and disbanding the police.
“Police forces in America have always served as slave-catchers for the Prison-Industrial system, which is a direct continuation of the brutal institution of antebellum slavery,” explained the Schwesnedls. “American police have grown increasingly more militarized, and use larger and larger amounts of city, county and state budgets, and have always functioned to terrorize communities of color, and enforce social control to protect the interests of the owning class, at the expense of workers’ rights.
“Instead of the lie that police exist to keep us all safe, we want systems that are actually designed to keep the people in our communities safe. We want systems and institutions that value ALL human life, including the lives of Black people, Indigenous people, trans people, women, people of color, etc.”
They added, “We feel terrible for everyone who lost businesses that represent countless hours and years of their labor and passion. And none of our businesses are as important as human lives that have been lost to police violence. Lives of Black people, Indigenous people, people of color.  None of our businesses are as important as putting an end to the trauma and suffering that police violence and intimidation has wrought on so many of our neighbors for so many years.”
As white, Euro-Americans, the Schwesnedls are currently working to amplify the voices of the groups and people leading the struggle on the ground, as well as providing some financial support, and making phone calls, sending emails, attending rallies, protests and meetings when they are able.
To learn more, they encourage people to check out groups like MPD150, Reclaim the Block, and Black Visions Collective.

Ricardo Levins Morales has been involved with MPD150 for years, and encourages people to go there for thoughtful answers and information on disbanding the police. (Art submitted)

Artist and activist
As an artist and an activist, Ricardo Levins Morales (3260 Minnehaha) has been involved with MPD150 for years.
In 1967 at 11 years old, Morales and his family left Puerto Rico and landed in Chicago during a time of great turmoil and police brutality. It was safer for him to walk the alleyways and take his chances with the gangs than to be on the streets and deal with the police, he recalled. “It was clear the police were dangerous people to be around,” said Morales.
One day the police shot a Black teen who was running home to catch a television show. “They said if he was running, he must have been running from a crime,” said Morales.
By age 14 or 15, Morales had started his life of activism and art when he discovered print making and screen printing. He’s been involved in labor organizing, farmers’ movements, peace activism, ecological work, international solidarity and more. “To me, they are really all the same thing: supporting human resilience in the face of hardship,” he explained.
He opened a studio at Minnehaha and 38th in 2009, and moved to his current location next to Peace Coffee two and a half years ago. Right now, Morales is giving away buttons to protesters that state: “Abolish the police, reform is not enough.”
As a Latinex man, Morales believes in the importance of solidarity with others who have had bad experiences with the police. This stands in contrast to the white racist narrative that believes if the cops are doing something bad to you then you must have deserved it, he pointed out.
What struck him about George Floyd’s murder was the “absolute indifference of this killer cop.” He said, “The police are essentially fulfilling the role lynch mobs did.”

Too broken to fix, only solution is replacement
Three years ago, on the 150th anniversary of the Minneapolis Police Department, MPD150 released a report detailing brutal practices baked into the formation of the department and tracking them through the years.
“We broke down how they interact everyday with people in crisis. They don’t do anything well,” said Morales. “You need grown-ups, not people who show up with tear gas and tasers and shoot at people. It’s all based on the mythology of how they supposedly keep us safe.”
Morales stated, “Having more cops in a city doesn’t make crime go down.” He pointed to white suburbs that have less police and policy brutality and less crime.
“People want decent homes, green spaces, parks for children. These are the basics of life that white suburbanites take for granted,” said Morales. When people have what they need, crime goes down. He supports using the millions spent on police in other ways to help people get their needs met, and implementing common sense solutions. Top on that list is stable housing.
Reforms instituted over decades haven’t work to fix police departments, said Morales.
On July 22, 2006, 19-year-old Fong Lee was shot eight times and killed by St. Paul Police Officer Jason Andersen. The gun authorities said they found nearby his body came from the police evidence room, Morales pointed out. “The officer was let off the hook.”
More training, review commissions, residency requirements – these simply do not work, said Morales. “It’s one of those entities so riddled with corruption, the only solution is replacement.”
He added, “There are a lot of people with solutions to problems that don’t involve killing them.”
If the mission is to help people, then the solution is to figure out what people need on a case-by-case basis and send those specific resources, such as mental health service providers, social workers, people trained in trauma and deescalation, victim/survivor advocates, religious leaders, and block clubs.
He encourages people to listen to what people of color are saying they need, and to read the thoughtfulness that has already gone into answering these questions by groups such as MPD150, Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective.
“Police have played a major role in making sure people without any money don’t have a chance,” said Morales, but he sees hope in what’s happening today and in people doing the work now that should have been done long ago.
“We’re living in different times but no more different than the other times,” he said. “The only difference is people are demanding better.”

Comments Off on ABOLISH THE POLICE: Local residents talk about why they support movement

‘This is it. We’ve had enough.’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Kayleen Kabba, a student at South High School. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Kayleen Kabba will be going into 10th grade at South High School in the fall; if there is school, that is. She said, “The ‘not knowing’ about that feels big. There is a lot of ‘not knowing’ in my life right now.”
Like people of all ages, Kayleen is struggling to understand what’s going on around her. She said, “Some of my friends think the riots were fueled by the pandemic – that people were going crazy from being cooped up so long. The questions can start to spin around in your head. Why was tear gas used by police on peaceful protestors? Who are these people from out of state causing violence in our community? What is the media talking about? What is real?”
One thing is certain, as far as she’s concerned. Kayleen is glad that South High will no longer have police officers on-site. Minneapolis Public Schools has officially suspended their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Kayleen had an exchange with a police officer last winter, the likes of which she thinks is pretty common. She explained, “My mom dropped me off late at school one morning. I was coming from a doctor’s appointment. When I checked in at the office, the attendance lady said, ‘There are only a couple minutes left of your first class; you can go stand at the door of your second class.’ So I started walking that direction.
“There was a group of 4-5 white kids in front of me in the hall. The school police officer smiled at them as they walked by, but he made me stop. He listened to my explanation, he checked my pass, and he said, ‘Don’t let me catch you out in the hallway again.’ He was not smiling. At the time it didn’t really register, but I felt the difference in the way he treated me was odd.
“We have to have some form of public safety in the schools and on the streets, but the priority should be de-escalation. So much of the time, authority figures don’t take the time to hear more than one side of the story. I really hope change is coming soon. I hope my generation will be the one to say, “This is IT. We’ve had enough.”

Comments Off on ‘This is it. We’ve had enough.’

We can feel both-and: Support protests and grieve loss of local businesses

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Have a little grace

By Amy Pass

There was a saying that was repeated so often when I was in graduate school that we all used to groan when our professors would say it. It was a deceptively simple phrase that went like this: “It’s a Both-And.” We used this phrase to refer to situations that seemed like they had to be one way or all another, but somehow were BOTH…AND. Both things. This AND that.
The last several weeks have been a practical lesson in holding two (or sometimes more) seemingly conflicting truths at the same time. As humans we are quick to see things as one way or another. If I am right, you cannot also be right. It is uncomfortable to think that two things that seem conflicting might both be true at the same time. Either-Or is much more comfortable than Both-And.
For example, consider this truth: Riots are justified when an entire people group has been largely unheard for more than 400 years, when no other method of communication has worked, not marches or kneeling or sit-ins or holding signs or writing letters or voting. Literally, nothing else has brought about the necessary systemic changes. The murder of George Floyd pushed many people beyond the threshold of peaceful protest, and that makes sense.
AND this truth: The destruction on Lake Street, University Ave., and elsewhere in Minneapolis and St. Paul hurts the people who live here, many of whom are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and/or immigrants. Businesses that employed local residents and supplied necessary services are gone, impoverishing already struggling neighborhoods. Some people have lost their entire livelihood. The destruction is breathtaking.
BOTH positions can be true.
We don’t have to pick a truth, take sides, or negate one thing in order to prove the other.
We can hold both truths, though it is uncomfortable and hard to do.
When we hold both truths, it moves us beyond focusing on which thing is the problem and pushes us toward solutions. We need justice and equity for people of color. The question right now is not what types of protest are ok, but where do we go from here? How do we deconstruct and reconstruct? Where can we participate in systemic change and where can we participate in “boots on the ground” relief for our neighbors and community members.
As a white woman, I’ve spent the last few weeks with my ear to the ground, listening to the people who haven’t had a voice. If you’re white, I suggest that you sit back a little bit and do the same. Make space for others to take the lead. Be conscious of taking up all the space in a conversation. Consider that your concerns have often (always?) taken precedence over those of others. We can’t have a just and equitable system if we can’t hear that our answers have historically only kept white people safe. None of us want a repeat of the last month, not another murder, not fires, not curfews or police wearing riot gear or the National Guard.
So listen.
Pay attention.
Follow the lead of your non-white neighbors, friends, and community members. They know systemic racism from the inside.
Until the voices on the inside are heard, there will be no peace, only silence.
Until silenced voices are heard, there can be no justice, no equality.
No justice. No peace.
Amy Pass earned her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Bethel Theological Seminary. But perhaps her greatest lessons have come from raising two children and maintaining a 21-year marriage.

Comments Off on We can feel both-and: Support protests and grieve loss of local businesses

Protestors mourn George Floyd

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Protestors started at the site where George Floyd was murdered (Chicago and 38th), walked down 38th, Hiawatha and Minnehaha, and ended at the 3rd Precinct at Minnehaha and Lake on Tuesday night, May 26, 2020. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

From Representative Jim Davnie on May 28:

63A Representative Jim Davnie

State Representative Jim Davnie (DFL – Minneapolis) released the following statement after a video surfaced of a white Minneapolis police officer causing the death of George Floyd, a black resident, in South Minneapolis.

 

“As a Minneapolis legislator, my heart is heavy today. I am heartbroken and angered by the continued cycle of violence provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. This is just the latest grievous example of a long history of abusive use of force, primarily targeting people of color and indigenous communities, by the Minneapolis Police Department. I appreciate the Mayor’s leadership demonstrated by the termination of the four officers involved. This is an important break in the culture of impunity too common in policing today, and there is much more that swiftly needs to happen at all levels of government to rebuild the critical trust between community members and the police.

 

In order to deescalate the immediate situation and start the process of rebuilding our community I am urging:

  • A speedy and thorough investigation of the incident by the relevant agencies leading to criminal charges and rigorous prosecution of the law based on the evidence we have by the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman;
  • An independent investigation is necessary of the police uses of force on predominantly nonviolent protestors on May 26th and May 27th that was escalatory and did not make our community safer;
  • A deep outside investigation into the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department aimed at rooting out racist practices and culture and building a force that protects and serves our community;
  • An overhaul of current public safety training practices and complete reconstruction of de-escalation and implicit bias training of the MPD;
  • A repeal of the state statute preempting communities from utilizing residency requirements for police;
  • A state level taskforce to review state policy and practice as it impacts local police practices and employment with a goal to raising the public confidence in the police. Any such body must include members of the public from communities of color and indigenous communities;
  • State resources to develop alternative practices for community safety and well-being;
  • State resources to support community rebuilding.”

From Ward 12 Council member Andrew Johnson on May 28:

Andrew Johnson, Ward 12 Minneapolis City Council member

On Tuesday morning, like many of you, I watched the video of George Floyd being killed in what I believe is murder at the hands of police. It was horrifying and gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I called for justice that morning and supported the immediate firing of the police officers involved. I also support the call for criminal charges to be filed immediately by County Attorney Mike Freeman, as I personally believe the evidence we have publicly available is clear enough.

When protests began, I advocated for de-escalation, and like many of you I have been deeply concerned by what appeared to be disproportionate use of force by police that I believe only inflamed the situation. I continue to advocate for de-escalation. I support protesters in exercising their right to free speech, and I also support non-violent civil disobedience which has historically proven necessary at times for change.

Like many of you, I have also been heartsick to watch the destruction that has transpired. I am heartbroken that it has resulted in loss of access to food, medicine, services, jobs, and even housing that so many families relied on, particularly low-income and transit-dependent members of our community. Families living above some of the burned commercial buildings are now homeless and several local independent small businesses have been devastated.

I have been in contact with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor, and many of my colleagues on the Council. There is work underway to help provide emergency access to food and services for those impacted by these losses. There is work underway to help ensure non-violence and achieve peace as people continue to exercise their right to protest, and that must start with de-escalation of the use of force by law enforcement. There is ongoing work to clean-up and there will be work to rebuild our community assets.

It cannot be lost on anyone that the killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. Black men in particular, but also indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC), are being disproportionately killed by police in both our city and across our nation. The murder of George Floyd is another horrifying trauma in a wound that is centuries deep and spans immeasurable lives. As a white person I will never know or experience this in the way that so many BIPOC members of our community have. For those of us who are white, we need to listen to BIPOC communities and be allies now more than ever so that we can help achieve a just, safe, healthy, and thriving community for everyone.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we collectively process what has happened and discuss how to proceed, there will be difficult decisions over the future of the Minneapolis Police Department. There are calls for defunding or abolition, as many do not feel that reform is enough or even possible. I believe all options are on the table. Whatever direction we collectively decide to go as a city, we all have a right to safety in our community and to feel safe with those we choose to help protect it.

Not surprisingly, my inbox is flooded and voicemail filled. As I continue to push for justice and peaceful resolution, and as I work to get information and answers, I also read these messages and respond to many, despite being unable to keep up. I am struck by the thoughtfulness of what I am hearing from so many of you. The personal stories. The emotions. The ideas you share. It is humbling and a privilege to read these deeply private and vulnerable thoughts, and to be trusted with your candid and raw feelings. It gives me hope in all of this. It gives me hope because our city is filled with such loving, passionate, and beautiful people. And I know that with all of you, we can get through this difficult and traumatic moment and emerge better.

From Ward 11 Council member Jeremy Schroeder on May 2

Ward 11 Minneapolis City Council member Jeremy Schroeder

7:

I woke up today still heartsick over the dehumanizing death of George Floyd at the hands of MPD officers. These public servants did not serve and protect this community as they are sworn to do. Instead, they took a life from it without any need whatsoever to do so – the exact opposite of their duty. I stood in community last night at the peaceful protest at 38th and Chicago, just a few blocks north of the ward I represent. I saw people come together and care for each other, volunteers pass out hand sanitizer to keep folks safe, and a shared grief that has become too familiar. Later, from home, I saw the same reports as you: dramatic clashes between police and protesters at the Third Precinct, young people and journalists hit by police projectiles, teargas sprayed. I heard from my colleagues who were there that they felt they could not work with officers to deescalate the situation. These reports are alarming, to say the least.

As I’ve said already, I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure transparency and accountability in this case and going forward. Public information will be posted on the City’s website as it is made available. But justice means something more. The decision yesterday to fire the four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death was the right first step, but it’s only the first step. The community needs and deserves a comprehensive, swift, and fair investigation. The community needs prosecutors to look long and hard at the evidence and do what’s right. City leadership needs to examine the role of the MPD in this death and others, and not simply admire the problem but move toward real solutions. This is about systemic change, not one-off fixes.

The City Council has very limited oversight of MPD operations, but my colleagues and I do have a platform to elevate the voices of community members demanding better, including in the City’s budget process. Those of us in positions of power need to be held accountable. I’m committed to doing better for you, Minneapolis. The reforms we’ve made have not been enough. It is our responsibility to continue working relentlessly to unravel generations of injustice toward our BIPOC neighbors.

I am a public official. I accept your criticism, feedback, input, and outrage. I am grateful to have heard from so many Ward 11 residents demanding more from the City they love – the City that, over these past few days, has let them down. We must move forward together, with tenacity. I invite you to join me in this work, and in remembering Mr. Floyd.

 

Governor activates National Guard on Thursday, May 28

Today, Governor Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Local leaders have requested National Guard resources after extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders.

 

It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘He would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd,” said Governor Walz.

 

As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest,” Governor Walz continued. “It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.”

 

The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency.

 

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. The Walz-Flanagan Administration is committed to addressing the systemic inequities and discrimination that led to this incident and seeking justice.

Comments Off on Protestors mourn George Floyd

Business along E. Lake St. hit hard by protestors

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Midday along E. Lake St., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

From Daniel Kennedy at Kennedy and Cain Law (3400 E. Lake St.):

I took a walk this morning after verifying that my building is OK.  Almost all the damage is west of 34th Avenue, starting with broken glass at NAPA, Soderberg’s, TCF, Walgreen’s, US Bank, the library, Cash ’n Pawn, Hamoudi Sabri’s building, the Coliseum, Odd Fellows, and Minnehaha Liquor.  All bus shelters had been smashed.

 

Auto Zone and Wendy’s had been completely burned.  Firefighters were still spraying 7 Sigma, the residential building under construction in front of Aldi’s, and the mixed use building between VOA and Holy Trinity Apartments.  But those three looked irreparable, unless the building by Aldi’s concrete structure can be salvaged.

The row of buildings with Target was heavily damaged.  Target had been looted.  MPR said this morning that there were flames on the roof of the Target building, and when I walked by there was water pouring out of the charter school and dollar store.  All glass from Target to Planet Fitness was broken.
Even at 10:30 am, people were still looting G&M Tobacco and Sally’s Beauty Products in the Minnehaha Commons residential building next to Cub.
Geek Love was boarding windows, as was Urban Growler.  I don’t know if that was due to broken glass or as a precaution in case of future violence.  The post office had already been boarded.
I did not see any damage at Northern Sun, Migizi, or Wilson Law.  Gandhi Mahal looked OK, but the owner reported two broken windows.  Many businesses bore signs saying “Black Owned” or “Minority Owned.”  It may have helped some businesses, but others with signs suffered damage.
There was lots of graffiti on walls and windows.
Looking out my window today, I’ve seen three businesses with intact windows boarding up as a precaution.  I just have too many windows to make that feasible.  I’ll just have to hope there is no more violence on Lake Street.

View full gallery on Facebook by clicking here.

From the Longfellow Business Association:

We have been hearing from many of you in our business community today after the murder of George Floyd, protests, rioting and the complete devastation of Lake Street, especially at Lake and Minnehaha. We are working with partners to develop a coordinated response for advocacy, leadership and safety. We want your input. Please reach out and tell us what you are feeling, seeing, hearing and how the LBA can support you. We will need you all to help us as we move forward.

Right now, here are a few resources and ways to gather support:

Boarding Windows: Mortenson Family Foundation is donating plywood and some labor for boarding windows. If you have small businesses that would have trouble taking care of boarding themselves and need help, give their info to ZoeAna zmartinez@lakestreetcouncil.org.

Financial Support: Lake Street Council has set up a fundraising platform and all donations will go to go to small businesses that have experienced vandalism. Please share.
https://www.welovelakestreet.com/

Thank you all and please reach out to Kim with any specific ideas, needs and concerns: 612.298.4699 or kim@longfellowbusinessassociation.org

Comments Off on Business along E. Lake St. hit hard by protestors

‘The only time I felt threatened was when I was near police’

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Photo by Terry Faust

Letter from photographer Terry Faust, written after being at the 3rd Precinct on Wednesday, May 28 at 9 p.m.:

You know, despite the fact I was amongst angry people, and not many of them had the same skin color as me, I only felt fearful when I was in front of the police barricade where officers were setting off flash-bang bombs and teargas. They were trying to break up a crowd that was big and mad. It did not work. In fact, I don’t believe I’m off base in thinking their actions only made the crowd bigger and madder.

I initially moved in front of the police station barricade to see what was going on. Suddenly, people near me started ducking and saying the police were shooting. Shooting? It sounded crazy, but something pinged a lamp pole behind me and something else ticked off the pavement at my feet. I moved away. Today, I discovered they were shooting “marker rounds,” a kind of paintball on steroids. I looked them up online and the manufacturer says: “Training with UTM Man-Marker Rounds requires approved safety goggles, protective face mask, protective gloves, and two layers of clothing.”

Terry Faust

Needless to say, firing into a crowd that does not have protective clothing and face coverings isn’t wise, and more to the point, the officers’ targets returned to their positions angrier than before when the shooting stopped. It didn’t clear the intersection. My objective take-away from the protest is this: The police, or at least many of them, are their own worst enemy, and it doesn’t seem to bother them. If you take this insight to its extreme it explains why when they kill people, especially people with dark skin, it is of so little concern to them. Some of them have accepted violence, especially violence towards blacks, as a way of doing their job. Today, there are news photos of fires and protesters leaping and cavorting like mad. The media is great at capturing drama. There were a few protesters like that, and I’m sure readers look at those pictures and see crazy people to be feared. I was there and those weren’t the people I feared. The only time I felt threatened was when I was near the police.

Photo by Terry Faust

Photo by Terry Faust

Photo by Terry Faust

Comments Off on ‘The only time I felt threatened was when I was near police’

Church adapts

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

In touch through video calls, telephone, email, and postal mail

By IRIC NATHANSON

Joy and Randy Nelson keep in touch online with their fellow members at Holy Trinity Church. (Photo by Terry Faust)

Randy Nelson participated in a recent congregation-wide meeting, along with nearly 100 members of his church, Holy Trinity Lutheran (2730 E. 31st St.), but Nelson could only see 30 fellow congregants at a time. Those 30 were on his computer screen in his apartment.
At a time when church buildings in Minnesota are closed and gatherings with more than 10 people are banned,* Holy Trinity and religious groups all over the state are using computer technology to bring their congregations together. By necessity, church members like Nelson, a retired Lutheran pastor, are becoming computer savvy.
“Before the pandemic, I had never heard of Zoom,” he said. “Now I seem to be using it almost every day.”
At Holy Trinity, church meetings are conducted on Zoom, but the Longfellow Lutheran congregation uses a different technology known as Vimeo for video broadcasts of its weekly church service.
“The service is recorded so we can watch it anytime,” Nelson said. “The videos do help to bring the church into our home but they are no substitute for being there in the pews with our fellow congregation members. For me, at least, videos make the services seem like a spectator sport.”
While they can watch the Holy Trinity service anytime during the week, Nelson and his wife Joy have decided to watch it at 11 a.m. on Sunday morning. “That is a traditional worship time for us, so when we watch the service at 11 it does feel like we are part of a larger group, even though there are only two of us in our apartment,” Nelson noted.

Maintaining connection virtually
At St. Albert’s Catholic Church (2836 33rd Ave. S.), the 9:30 a.m. mass on Sunday is livestreamed on Facebook. “We can see there are at least 110 households present for that service,” said Mike Vitt, a longtime member of St. Albert’s parish. “We are together virtually, so that way we can maintain some connections. We can feel each other’s presence even if we are not together physically.”
Greta Gantriis, a member at St. Peder’s Lutheran Church (4600 E. 42nd St.), said she misses being with long-time friends on Sunday morning. “The online service does keep us connected, but it is not the same as being together in person. So many of us are part of a long-standing community of people with a Danish heritage. St. Peder’s has done so much to maintain that sense of community.”
Like Gantriis, Rita Juhl, another St. Peder’s member, wishes she could be together with fellow congregants on Sunday morning. “But that is not possible now. We have to adapt to this new reality,” Juhl said.

Volunteering in the community
At a time when so many people are finding themselves quarantined at home, churches in Longfellow and Nokomis have made a special effort to stay connected with the members of their congregation.
“With the shutdown in place, many of our members have rediscovered the telephone,“ said Holy Trinity’s senior pastor, Ingrid Rasmussen. “When the shutdown occurred, we contacted everyone in the congregation by phone. We continue to keep in touch that way – particularly for the small group of people who don’t have access to reliable computer communications. We also have a newsletter that goes out every week, by email and by postal mail.“
Rasmussen said that Holy Trinity has maintained its connections with people in the neighborhood who may not be church members. “We know that many neighbors are suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. They may have lost their jobs or been furloughed. We have an emergency fund that can help in special situations.”
Even with the shelter in place orders in effect, Holy Trinity members continued their community outreach efforts. “A number of us are involved as volunteers at Longfellow School, the education center for mothers with children and pregnant mothers,” Joy Nelson explained. “Earlier this month, we were able to participate in an event at the school. We brought gifts over for the graduates. They came outside one at a time.
“With proper social distancing, we stood in the school yard with bells and signs congratulating them. We volunteers were able to see each other in person and even talk to each other through our masks.”

Joint church food shelf busy
At Minnehaha Methodist Church (3701 E. 50th St.), a group of four area congregations jointly sponsor the Minnehaha Food Shelf. The four include Minnehaha Methodist, Nokomis Lutheran, St. James Episcopal and Living Table. George Gallagher, the food shelf’s director, said he has seen an upswing in food shelf use as the pandemic has taken hold in Minnesota.
“Our demand surged in April when we served 880 client, a 22% increase over the previous month,” Gallagher said. “Right now, we are able to keep up with the demand. But our biggest concern is whether we will be able to keep doing that as more people are laid off and furloughed. People in the community have been very generous. Our contributions are up. That is a good sign that we will be able to meet the need in the months ahead.”
“Our church buildings may be closed, but that doesn’t mean that our churches are closed,” noted Minnehaha United Methodist Pastor Becky Seachrist. “We continue to fulfill our mission. Now, we have to do it in new ways.”

* 25% of capacity
*Gov. Tim Walz has issued a new executive order enabling places of worship to hold indoor services, starting on May 27, at 25% of their capacity, as long as they follow public health guidelines. Churches and other places of worship must provide six feet of separation between attendees. Indoor and outdoor events are limited to a maximum of 250 participants.

Comments Off on Church adapts