Archive | OPINION

#PressIsNotTheEnemy – so why are the police acting like it?

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Too much coffee

Tesha M. Christensen, owner & editor

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN,
Owner & Editor
Tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

Over 148 journalists were attacked by police in the United States between May 28 and June 4, 2020.
Yes. I said 148.
Yes, by the police.
Yes, in the United States.
Over 100 of those attacks happened between May 28 and June 1 as journalists covered the protests after George Floyd’s murder by a white police officer here in Minneapolis at Chicago and 38th.
At the investigative news website Bellingcat, senior investigator Nick Waters, who tracked the incidents jointly with the U.K. Guardian, said, “Although in some incidents it is possible the journalists were hit or affected accidentally, in the majority of the cases we have recorded the journalists are clearly identifiable as press, and it is clear that they are being deliberately targeted. This pattern of violence against journalists is replicated in several cities, but appears most intense in Minneapolis.”
Yep. Right here.
Over one-third of these attacks against the news media happened here.
Attacks on the media were reported across 24 states and in Washington, D.C. Denver, Colorado and Los Angeles recorded the most attacks outside Minneapolis, with 10 incidents each, reported the Guardian.
According to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, there were more than 300 total press freedom violations during that time.
That’s:
• 49+ arrests
• 192 assaults
• 42 equipment/newsroom damage
Assault category breakdown:
• 69 physical attacks
• 43 tear gassings
• 24 pepper sprayings
• 77 rubber bullets/projectiles
The majority of these violations were done by local police departments, but some were by state troopers and National Guard.
In comparison, only 11 journalists were injured by protesters.
“I’ve never seen so many incidents with police and reporters simultaneously in different cities. Tension between cops and reporters is nothing new. Aggression on reporters in multiple locations nationally at same time is something different,” tweeted Maggie Haberman of the New York Times.
Veteran reporter John M. Donnelly tweeted, “CNN reporter on Lafayette Square says on air that a DC police officer struck the CNN cameraman with a baton, even though the cameraman was holding, um, a camera and a credential. These incidents keep piling up.”
Journalists have compared their experiences in war-torn countries with what they experienced in Minneapolis. “I’ve covered protests involving police in Ferguson, Mo., Baton Rouge, La., Dallas and Los Angeles. I’ve also covered the U.S. military in war zones, including Iraq and Afghanistan. I have never been fired at by police until tonight,” said L.A. Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske.
As reported by Bring Me The News: Many of the assaults on media were shown on live television, with reporters from FOX 9 seeing rubber bullets smash their station vehicle windshield, along with WCCO reporters Jeff Wagner and Mike Max seen on live TV running from tear gas and rubber bullets. Star Tribune reporters Ryan Faircloth and Chao Xiong were attempting to drive home near Lake Street when Faircloth said they “mistakenly turned down a street that was blocked off at the end,” and “before we had a chance to reverse, the “Guard/ State Patrol fired #rubber bullets at our car without warning.” The shattered glass cut Faircloth’s face and arm and left shards of glass inside their vehicle.
And then there’s photojournalist Linda Tirado. Shot by a rubber bullet in the face, she is permanently blind in her left eye.
Yes. This happened in the Twin Cities. By those who are supposed to serve and protect. It didn’t happen in a country that lacks a Bill of Rights.
Instead, it occurred in a place where freedom of the press is protected by the First Amendment.
At least, it is supposed to be.
I’m seriously questioning what happened, and what this means for our country.
For 231 years, this language has been the hallmark of the United States of America, and what sets this nation apart from so many others:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
What does it mean for the country when this is violated?
When it is broken in very direct, very blatant, very violent ways by the folks who are supposed to protect it?
In Cleveland, Ohio, journalists were specifically forbidden by the police to be outside covering anything happening in the city on May 31.
What were they trying to hide? Those without anything to hide aren’t threatened by folks with pens, paper and cameras.
I’m not the only one asking that question.
I’m not the only one outraged.
As City Pages reported:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday, June 2 on behalf of reporters targeted by law enforcement while covering protests. The respondents include the city of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, police union president Bob Kroll, Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington, and State Patrol Colonel Matthew Langer.
The lawsuit demands an injunction to stop police from attacking journalists, a declaration that they violated multiple constitutional amendments, and damages.
“Law enforcement is using violence and threats to deter the media from vigorously reporting on demonstrations and the conduct of police in public places,” said ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson.
“We depend on a free press to hold the police and government accountable for its actions, especially at a time like this when police have brutally murdered one of our community members, and we must ensure that justice is done. Our community, especially people of color, already have a hard time trusting police and government. Targeting journalists erodes that public trust even further.”
Linda Tirado has filed her own lawsuit.
Minneapolis also faces a class-action lawsuit brought by protesters.
“Journalists have always been targets of criticism and back in the 1960s they were also targeted by police,” said Robert Mahoney, the deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “But there was an understanding that journalists were necessary and it was incumbent on police forces to allow them to do their job. That has changed.”
Why? Why has it changed?
Is it because of President Trump’s constant attacks on the press? He has tweeted the phrases “Fake News” and “Enemy of the People” over 800 times since getting elected. As I’ve been saying for years, just because you don’t like what’s in the news doesn’t mean it is fake. Just because you wish someone was doing something else and you read about it in the newspaper doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the newspaper. In fact, you should be thanking news sources for the information.
I hope this marks a turning point in America. I hope we’ve been sufficiently shocked by where our policies and attitudes have brought us, and we’re dedicated to real change.
There’s a lot for us to be shocked about these days, and much to work to change. This is one of those important issues. I hope you start talking about it, reading about it, and working in support of journalists.
Oh, and you might see me out and about wearing my #PressIsNotTheEnemy shirt. You might find my kids sporting their own #DemocracyDiesInSilence t-shirts. Maybe you need one, too.

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Letters to the Editor August 2020

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Musings by Anita White, Longfellow artist

City charter vote only way to long-lasting change

Dear Editor:
In “Community partnership provides repair vouchers instead of tickets,” Margie O’Loughlin presents the Lights On program as a chance for “improving police-community relations” and “healing” after the police killing of Philando Castile four years ago after he was stopped for a broken tail light. The claim is absurd. Philando Castile was killed because he was Black, not because his car needed repairs. If Philando Castile’s death is to be not entirely in vain, we need more than a program; we need a vote on the Minneapolis city charter.
I agree that handing out repair vouchers instead of fines is one easy way to help keep streets safer for everybody. But are armed police officers the best fit for the job when other alternatives are possible? Programs like Lights On might be an improvement but they are not enough when routine traffic stops for Black and Brown motorists too often turn deadly at the hands of police. In Minneapolis, we now have a chance to amend the city charter and remove the roadblocks that keep us from collaboratively and creatively re-imagining community safety. Let us vote and we can maybe finally turn tragedy into something positive and long-lasting.
Craig F. Simenson
Longfellow

Thanks for informative, courageous issues

Dear Editor:
Just read the Messenger which was delivered to my door.
Thanks for your article on LBS and the details of what we have been through. Having worked closely with Kim Jakus to draw various businesses the destruction hit close to home along with the way LoLa was supported by these businesses for so many years.
I remember sitting in LV’s Barbershop and drawing Lamberto as he worked. I later gave him the drawing. How innocent those times seem now.
Thanks for this informative courageous issue of the Messenger for these times
Anita White
Longfellow

Dear Editor:
Thank you so much for keeping the paper going. We loved the warbler article last month. I’ve lived in Longfellow three years and had never heard of 7 Oaks Oval until reading that article. Since then my family has visited three or four times and told several other friends about it. What a great find within walking distance of us. And we enjoyed the article this month about the game designer in Standish. It’s so nice to have local news and discover all these neat things going on right here in the neighborhood. And the Lights On article (about police giving out vouchers rather than tickets) was encouraging to read this week, in the midst of all the pain and sorrow surrounding George Floyd’s death.
Thank you for providing this newspaper to our neighborhood each month.
Take care,
Hannah Sheu
Longfellow

 

What do you think? Email letter to Tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

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Attaining a just and safe Minneapolis

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

by Kathleen O’Brien, resident of Hiawatha neighborhood in the Longfellow community
Policing in our nation and city must be drastically transformed. The unjust murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers put a spotlight on this urgent reality for people in our neighborhood, across the nation and around the world. Our goal is a JUST and SAFE city.
Structural racism permeates our society and its institutions and is at the foundation of our need to reform policing. I believe the people of Minneapolis agree with this judgment. I believe in action that is immediate, legitimate and enduring to transform public safety in our community. I do not agree with the city council’s proposed Charter Amendment to eliminate the police department because this will not address structural racism and it will not advance essential police reforms. In fact, the amendment is a distraction from the necessary work to address structural racism.
Public safety is a basic city service. The city council’s proposed charter amendment would fundamentally change Minneapolis city government. The city council sent this proposed charter change to the Charter Commission without a public hearing or any inclusive participation. It seems that the council is proposing this dramatic action to give the appearance that they are doing something. If the city council was genuine in their effort to transform policing they would support Chief Medaria Arradondo and his reform agenda. The council could achieve substantial police reform by pursuing the necessary changes in state and federal law, expanding the partnership with Hennepin County on vital public health programs and giving the chief the funding and tools he needs to do his job.
Hennepin County provides social welfare and public health services. It has the experience, expertise and existing programs that should be expanded to work with the Minneapolis Police Department. The city should not hire social workers and duplicate Hennepin County programs.
There are many urgent needs in our city. Structural racism must be addressed. The unemployed need jobs. People need job training and placement assistance. Businesses (many that were damaged and are owned by immigrants and people of color) need advice and financial support to rebuild and reopen. People with mental health needs require the treatment and expert staff assistance. The city needs to work with partners to provide housing that is truly affordable. The homeless need safe and healthy shelter. Let’s ask our city council to work on these urgent needs. Their charter change is not urgent and not necessary to address structural racism or transform our police department.
I oppose the council’s proposed Police Charter Amendment for several reasons:
1. It is premature. The amendment eliminates the police department without a plan. Before the citizenry is asked to vote on the elimination of the police department, the council should have developed their proposal for providing law enforcement, how they intend to implement their plan and a guarantee there will be a smooth transition without a break in public safety protection. Potential changes to our municipal government could be the focus of next year’s municipal election. The citizens would have an entire election season to discuss and debate municipal structure including the Minneapolis Charter.
2. It diminishes acountability. The amendment eliminates the responsibility and authority of the mayor and places oversight in a Director of Community Safety and Violence Prevention who would report to the council and mayor. The amendment states: If there is a Division of Law Enforcement Services, “The Director of Community and Violence Prevention shall appoint the director of the division of law enforcement services, subject to confirmation by official act of the city council and mayor.” This puts in place 15 bosses for a “potential” director of the division of law enforcement. This diminishes accountability to the citizenry, adds bureaucracy and makes policing decisions more distant from the citizens.
3. It makes no commitment to have a police department. The proposed charter change removes the current charter language: that the city council must establish, organize and otherwise provide for these departments …a police department. And replaces current language with: “The council may maintain a division of law enforcement services, composed of licensed peace officers, subject to the supervision of the department of community safety and violence prevention.” Under the new charter language there is no guarantee that there would be licensed police officers serving our city.
Finally, the council action states: “This ordinance shall take effect on May 1, 2021.” It is unbelievable that the city council could implement this structural change and advance police reform in about six to seven months. The council has promised that it would engage in a full year of consultation and deliberation with the people of Minneapolis. Has the city council backed away from that commitment? Wouldn’t it be better to have the city council listen to the people of Minneapolis before a charter change? Before changing our city government?
Recently a group of hundreds of concerned and engaged citizens – called Friends of Minneapolis – have come together to encourage a healthy and productive dialogue among community members and city leaders to ensure the steps we take towards police reform guide us to a safe and just Minneapolis for all. We encourage all our neighbors to meaningfully engage and participate in this discussion and decision-making, as it will shape the vitality and safety of our city for years to come.

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What is ‘a police-free future?’

Posted on 29 July 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Submitted by MPD150
We (and so many others in this movement) don’t want to just rebrand cops, or privatize cops, or make cops “nicer.” The goal is a city without police, and defunding police is one tool we have to reach that goal. But what does that mean in practice? Here are 10 points to keep in mind:
1. Invest in prevention, not punishment.
Whether you agree with abolition or not, it isn’t hard to see that police are a massive draw on the wealth and resources of our communities. As council member Jeremiah Ellison said, “Our police have been bankrupting our city for years. Consistently and absolutely gutting taxpayers of money.” There are smarter ways to structure our budgets.
2. What does “investing in prevention” look like in practice?
Some of this is big picture, like making significant, long-term changes to how our city budget addresses affordable housing, youth programs, mental health services, addiction treatment options, jobs programs, education, etc. But there are also some really concrete, specific examples of what that “prevention, not punishment” approach can look like:
• Minneapolis’ Group Violence Intervention initiative has “helped de-escalate tension between groups on the north side without involving Minneapolis police.”
• Minnesota activists have called for comprehensive sex ed in schools that includes curricula on consent, bodily autonomy, and healthy relationships as a way to prevent gender-based violence.
• Minneapolis youth have organized to shift SRO (school resource officer) budgets into things like restorative justice trainings, school counselors, and more.
3. Many people already live in a world without police (pt. 1).
If you grew up in a well-off, predominantly white suburb, how often did you interact with cops? Communities with lots of good jobs, strong schools, economies, and social safety nets are already, in some ways, living in a world without police (of course, there’s so much more to say here about gentrification, redlining, white flight, and how one function of policing is to keep Black, Indigenous, and people of color out of these communities, but check out the readings on our website).
4. Many people already live in a world without police (pt. 2).
We want to make sure everyone has someone to call on for help. It’s critical to note, though, that for many of us, especially those of us living in under-resourced, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, the police have never been helpful. In fact, they’ve been a major source of harm and violence. Millions of us already live in a world where we don’t even think about calling on the police for help; it isn’t some kind of far-future fantasy.
5. Public safety is bigger than policing.
Abolitionists want everyone to be safe. We’re just acknowledging that there are other ways to think about “safety” than armed paramilitary forces with a proven track record of racism, brutality, and a focus on responding to harm after it’s happened rather than de-escalating or preventing it in the first place. We need to explore those “other ways,” lift up current practices for building safe communities without police, and innovate some new ones too.
6. We’re abolishing the police, not abolishing “help.”
Even before 2020, there was work happening in Minneapolis to rethink how 911 works, and who gets routed where as “first responders.” We want to continue that work. A world without police will still have 911. It will still have firefighters and EMTs. And across the U.S., there are hundreds of programs and initiatives that “help” people without police being the first point of contact. Check out programs like COPE in Minneapolis, CAHOOTS in Eugene, and our own (ongoing) list of places to call when you’re in crisis.
7. Abolition is a process, not a “Thanos snap” where all the cops just instantly disappear.
Yes, different activists will have different perspectives on this point, and we challenge people to understand why someone might call for a particular police department’s instant, total dissolution. But whether a community’s specific demand is to defund a department all at once, or gradually over time, the idea of abolition being a process remains the same. It will take time and effort to build the institutions and services we need, to continue to make connections between policing, prisons, immigration policy, and beyond, and to make sure we’re not replicating the logic of prisons and punishment in our own solutions.
8. “But what about violent crimes? Who will we call?”
Prevention efforts will reduce the number of violent crimes. They won’t stop them all, though. A bigger takeaway here is that however you respond to the “what about violent crimes?” question, it doesn’t make sense to structure our entire, multi-billion dollar social safety apparatus around that relatively rare class of behaviors.
9. This new world won’t be perfect. But we have to see how imperfect the current world is.
Will a focus on prevention magically stop all harm? Of course not. But we have to ask: how much harm is our current system stopping? How many murders, or sexual assaults, do police currently “solve,” much less prevent? Here in Minnesota, we had a whole multi-part series in our local paper on “how Minnesota’s criminal justice system has failed victims of sexual assault,” and lots of people have already seen the graphic depicting how, when it comes to sexual violence, “the vast majority of perpetrators will not go to jail or prison.” Redirecting resources into prevention efforts won’t solve all of our problems, but it’s a common sense step we can and should take that will have a real impact on people’s lives.
10. “Abolition is about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions.” -Ruth Wilson Gilmore
That’s a quote we return to often, especially when we’re feeling uncertain. A police-free future isn’t something that just happens to us; it’s something we build, together.

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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.

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Thanks, Nokomis East neighbors

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Jerome Evans

NENA Board President

By JEROME EVANS

Dear Nokomis East Community: this is a letter of gratitude. In case we haven’t met, my name is Jerome Evans and I chair the board of directors for our Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA). I served on the board for a few years before becoming chair so I can tell you that 2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenge, resilience, and growth for our organization. Neighborhoods 2020, the outbreak of the coronavirus, and the killing of George Floyd have tested NENA’s organizational skills, caused us to question the way that we undertake our mission, and demonstrated that NENA is an invaluable resource for this community.
In a typical year NENA’s board and staff plan and put on community building events like the State of our Neighborhood, Monarch Festival, Bossen Renter’s Party, or Night Before New Year’s Eve celebration. This year, in light of the risks that the coronavirus poses for some residents, we are planning for food distribution for people who are isolated or otherwise unable to secure food. In a typical year we might organize around allocating the Curb Appeal Matching Grant, continuing the Green Fair, and educating residents through our Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. But this year we were called upon to organize for the safety of our entire community and to do so with little to no notice.
And we did it. On May 30 when local leaders suggested that we band together for communication and defense in light of public safety concerns sparked by the death of George Floyd while he was in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department – NENA called and the community responded. I can only be profoundly grateful to the people of Nokomis East for putting aside their plans for that Saturday, defying the medium-term risk posed by the coronavirus, and coming together to confront a short-term and unknown risk to our collective safety. And I am grateful to NENA board members, staff, and community members who stayed up all night that first night watching for danger and then turned around and did it again the next night!
This could not have happened in a different community. And I’ll tell you another thing that I’m grateful for. The death of George Floyd has sparked conversations on racial equity and white privilege in our community that I never expected us to have. As a gay, Black man living in our once redlined community it gives me great hope to see communities that once encouraged segregation now contemplating how their actions may have unintentionally perpetuated systems of oppression for other people. That gives me great hope for our future. Perhaps the dream of equality for every American really can mean equality for every American.
On a personal level, I’m comfortable sharing that I have been challenged to rethink the way that my actions contribute to our system. For example, as chair of NENA I never questioned the community safety meetings that we’d host or how we might define the type of ‘suspicious activity’ that would prompt a call to the police. Did NENA inadvertently encourage our community to engage in racial profiling? I hope not. But moving forward we will be more direct and forthright in leading with our commitment to racial equity. We will support the community’s interest in education on racial equity, support efforts to stand in solidarity with more diverse communities, and provide space for more BIPOC residents to congregate, heal, and help lead.
Perhaps instead of or in addition to meetings with law enforcement, we can host meetings with community members who we don’t often hear from. Last week, I personally held a Community Conversation regarding Achieving Racial Equity. I hosted a law professor, an educator, and a Nokomis East community member. What struck me most from my conversation with Luis Rosario is how much he loves our community. Even when he feels that he is being racially profiled, he loves being a part of Nokomis East and all that that means. By providing him with a platform to share his experience I gained insight into the importance of NENA engaging in racial equity work that benefits everyone in our community and, perhaps, community members got the opportunity to see how damaging racial profiling our neighbors can be.
I love our community and I believe that we have risen to the challenges that 2020 has thrown at us. Thank you for committing yourselves to creating a more equitable Nokomis East. I assure you that I and NENA will be learning, growing, and supporting you grow through this challenging time. Thank you.
Editor’s note: Jerome Evans is running for State Representative 63B in this year’s election.

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A city moved

Posted on 25 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

From around the city

Jill Boogren

By JILL BOOGREN

After watching in horror the widely circulated video showing George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer outside of Cup Foods at 38th St. and Chicago Ave. on May 25, protesters took to the streets on May 26, 2020. They demonstrated outside Cup Foods then marched three miles east, stopping traffic along 38th St. and again along Hiawatha Ave., before they turned east to the Third Precinct police building on East Lake St.
“No Justice, No Peace,” the crowd chanted. “Prosecute the police!”
The events that followed have been widely documented and reported around the globe: police spraying tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at demonstrators, the subsequent riots and the destruction of property throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, the nation and the world. Several beloved businesses were burned to the ground or damaged beyond repair.
In South Minneapolis and beyond, people emerged from the devastation, grief stricken but eager to help. They passed out masks, hand sanitizer and snacks to peaceful demonstrators, a practice that in mid-June was still evident at every rally and gathering. They descended on Lake St. in large numbers to help clean the streets and sweep away the debris. They dropped off thousands of bags of food at a single food drive. Then at another. They set up a free market at a high school housed in a former grocery store. Du Nord Craft Spirits, our local distillery-turned hand sanitizer maker, became an additional drop spot for donations of food and supplies. The Lake Street Council and Longfellow Business Association began raising funds for recovery and offering small business relief.
Through it all, calls for justice have been ringing through the air. In the marches that continue to take place throughout the city. In the art that is screaming from the pavement, walls and boards placed over windows. From banners and signage carried at rallies and on street corners, in the chants shouted and horns honked, and from portraits and tributes placed in mourning.
By the time of this writing, public officials are answering some of these calls. All four police officers have been formally charged with murder or aiding and abetting, the lead for the prosecution given over to Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Almost immediately the University of Minnesota announced it would divest from the Minneapolis police, with the Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board soon following suit. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo suspended contract negotiations with the police union to push for structural reform, and the Minneapolis City Council committed, according to Council Member Andrew Johnson’s June 8 email to constituents, “to start the process of engaging with the community over the next year in re-imagining what a new public safety department could look like.”
The impacts of the uprising will surely be felt here for a longtime, the work toward real justice ongoing. But in its aftermath and going forward the people of Minneapolis have shown their greatest strength – our community.

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‘I can’t breathe’

Posted on 30 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Photo by Abha Karnick

Hamline graduate Abha Karnick wrote this poem after speaking with a mother at Cup Foods earlier this week. View the images she has taken in the Messenger Facebook page photo galleries.

 

I can’t breathe

I watched his last breath. Millions of people soon would as well.
I can’t breathe.
He was murdered on my block next to the bus I ride, in front of my children, in front of the world.
I can’t breathe.
Crowds gathered and my eyes glistened. Glistened with tears, glistened with light from the fires, glistened with hurt and fear and anger.
I can’t breathe.
My city was burning, my people were scattering, my world was shattering. Yelling, cursing, crying. In one ear and out the other, or so it seemed. My senses overwhelmed, my grief inexplicable.
I can’t breathe.
The haze drifted like fog, blocking the view of the city, clouding the hearts of the oppressed. The unheard were here, they were pleading. I was pleading. Let them be heard.
I can’t breathe.
Flowers, thousands, lay on the streets. Graffiti lined the walls of the train and the businesses. “Fuck the 12” “Black Lives Matter” “Society awakens”
I can’t breathe.
This is my city. My city. I ache as history again repeats, never letting up as injustice hits the streets. Ashes from the fires settled on lawns and houses, asking to be seen, needing to be seen.
I can’t breathe.
When will future history books remove the white-authoritative narrative and choose truth? Oh, Minneapolis.

Oh, Minneapolis. I can’t breathe.

 

 

South Minneapolis writer and photographer, Abha Karnick

Abha Karnick is a south Minneapolis resident with East Indian roots who graduated from Hamline University in 2019. Abha grew up in the Twin Cities and found her passions in music, photography, and writing. She has pieces published with CAAL, MNAsianStories, and HER Online Journal, and her passion lies in storytelling and finding the moments to capture. Her writing is best known for pulling at the heartstrings of her community as she dives deep into both the emotion and lives of both herself and those around her.

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‘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

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Thanks for supporting your local newspaper

Posted on 26 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Too much coffee

Tesha Christensen, editor and owner

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN,
Owner & Editor
Tesha@LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com

Newspapers have your back. We really do. Now more than ever, local is important. Who is open? Who is sick? Who is helping others? Who can you turn to for inspiration and encouragement?
As small businesses take a hit, we’re working to keep bringing you trustworthy, relevant and local news. It’s not a job we take lightly, but is one that is vital to keeping our democracy strong. But as businesses are affected, so are we because our revenue stream is directly tied to theirs in a symbiotic relationship. When they succeed, so do we; and when other businesses suffer, our small, family-owned business follows along the same path.
Last month, we put out the call for help to support our efforts, and we’re so very grateful for those who have sent in donations to our voluntary pay drive. Some of the letters have moved me to tears, so I thought I’d share a few of them.

Notes that have made our day in our virtual office

Dear Editor:
I have been meaning to write you for some time now since reading about your purchase of the paper. I really enjoy getting the Messenger and value its coverage of our community – the paper isn’t recycled at our house until I’ve had a chance to read through it, often tearing out articles about organizations, issues, or events in our community that I would like to further explore. I’ve noticed the change in coverage since you became owner/editor and I really appreciate the paper’s significant focus on the environment/nature/climate change and our role in it, and the features of inspiring individuals/organizations doing amazing things in our community.
It’s always a bright spot in my day when I see it at my door, and as I work during the day, it’s often a “can’t wait to read” treat for the evening.
I don’t know anything about the newspaper business, but I can imagine that it can be daunting in this day and age. Kudos to you for taking it on – I really admire that and wish you and the paper all the best!
Jane Stockman

Dear Editor:
Happy “belated” World Press Day! I am deeply grateful for the work of you and your remarkable staff as you cover and highlight “our world.”
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Please use the enclosed contribution for any purpose you deem appropriate.
Judith Coggins

Dear Editor:
It’s always a pleasure to find the Messenger on my front steps and look forward to its appearance continuing. Thank you for all these years of untiring stories and local reporting. I’m glad to contribute to all this. Good luck with this drive.
Linda Hume

What’s Open, 2020 Grads
These generous donations will help cover the expenses of printing and delivering a free newspaper to over 16,000 homes with another 4,000 delivered via bulk drops at local businesses. (See form on page 3 to make a donation and enter in a prize drawing for some fantastic gift certificates from local businesses.)
We are the only paper that goes to each and every door in the neighborhood, making sure that everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, age, socio-economic status or disability receives a paper. With deep roots in the neighborhood, the Messenger is a great direct marketing tool for businesses as we get in the hands of local residents – who clip out ads and articles and save them on their refrigerators. We enjoy and value that partnership and synergy.
We’ve launched a few exciting new projects recently as we seek to support and give back to our community. The What’s Open page on our web site (www.LongfellowNokomisMessenger.com) offers free listings for businesses to let customers know how and when they can do businesses with them. Those who want to stand out with more details and deals can opt for a premium listing.
The 2020 Grads web page gives parents a place to honor and recognize their graduates. The class of 2020 has it tough, and we want to help you do something special for them. Rave about your grad from kindergarten, grade 5, grade 8, high school and college/tech school with a free photo and listing of their sports, honors and activities. We want to hear all about it! Make a bigger splash with family photos, highlights and more in a premium listing – and ask family members and friends to contribute.
It’s not necessarily an easy time to buy ads, and when folks are cutting their budgets they may consider slashing their marketing funds. But what history has shown us is that those who stay the course in times of crisis stay in front of their customers and don’t lose market share to their competitors.
Let your customers know if you’re selling online or doing delivery through ads in the Messenger. Share the stories of how you’re involved in the community. Take this time to connect with your customers and reward loyalty. You’ll reap the rewards now and in the future.
“In good times, people want to advertise. In bad times, they must advertise,” said Bruce Barton, an American writer, advertising executive, and politician who lived from 1886 to 1967. It was true during the crises of the 20th century, and it’s true during this pandemic.
I’d love to hear more about how you’re connecting and managing through the COVID-19 pandemic. Email, reach out on Facebook or Instagram, or send me a lovely letter through our valuable United States Postal Service.

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