Well done, Edina.  This grizzled old fart, who has seen pretty much everything a City Council meeting has to offer, came away feeling hopeful and encouraged that Edina will dig into its systemic racism, wrestle with it, and rework police procedure and practices.  The Mayor and Council’s acknowledgement of racial issues and apology for treatment of Thomas, and I’d say also an implied larger apology for systemic racism that needs to be addressed, went a long way to opening the “conversation” that will be ongoing.

Last night was the Edina City Council’s first meeting after the arrest of Larnie Thomas for walking while black, grabbed off the street and cited for violating Minn. Stat. 169.21; 169.02 and 609.72.  It was standing room only, and it was a thoughtful, fiercely concerned, distressed group, really tired of having to stand up to this police behavior time after time after time.  As someone who grew up just 1/2 mil from the site of the 60th & Xerxes arrest, I felt compelled to fire off a couple emails and show up at the Council meeting.

On one of the yak-yak lists, I heard there were two huge lights focused on City Hall, an ambulance parked out back, and a big police presence.  That’s not what I saw.  Huge towering lights like were posted outside Mpls. 4th Precinct?  No, no large light towers — instead, I saw two large towers for media satellite transmission, and the lot and building was pretty dark:

20161018_1858201Coming in, just as the meeting was starting, there were two uniformed officers entering at the same time, but City Hall and the Police Department are in the same building, using the same entrance at the front (there were also garage doors on the other side of the building), and they weren’t hanging out in the foyer.  The Chief was in the room seated to the left of the Council, but otherwise, nothing noteworthy.  So I think that’s a bit off.   Nothing intimidating and no police presence that I noticed.

edinacityhallpolicedepartmentWhat did happen?  It was a very long meeting.  The Council dropped the planned agenda, and shuttled it off until later, providing an opportunity for everyone who wanted to speak to speak.  And it was good.  Very emotional comments, thoughtful, heartfelt, direct, fierce, quiet, asking, demanding change, and not just words, but that Edina walk the walk. There were hours and hours of comments.  Although people were standing at the back and sides and sitting on the floor in the aisle, a man at the entrance pointed out a couple seats still open, one was then taken, but one was open at the front, so I went up and grabbed it.  A reporter had been in it but was crawling around the floor shooting photos, and let me have it (THANK YOU!), and so I got to speak early on, and then left so someone else could move up and I could get back to Red Wing.  The Council listened, and listened, and listened some more.  At the end, most of them offered their perspective, a couple of apologies, and some clear direction that those facing these issues every day be part of the solution, the recognition that it was so important to solicit and take advice of NAACP and #blacklivesmatter in determining what to do and how to do it.  They heard loud and clear that there’s been enough talk, and again, that they need to walk the walk.  Next steps and a timeline are on the agenda.  Overall, this felt good.  Grizzled old fart cynic that I http://www.startribune.com/at-edina-city-council-anger-over-police-incident/397532401/am, yes, this felt good.

In the STrib:

Edina mayor, City Council apologize over police treatment

It’s hit the New York Times:

Black Man Is Arrested While Walking, and Minnesota City Starts a ‘Conversation’

NAACP’s Nekima Levy-Pounds:

“In light of the egregious incident that happened, the city of Edina responded at the City Council meeting in a way that demonstrated a level of compassion, and they signaled that they heard what the people had to say,” she said. “I have not seen that happen in any jurisdictions that I have covered.”

KARE 11:   Community weighs in on controversial Edina video

KSTP: Edina City Council Meets for First Time Since Controversial Video

CBS Local : Edina Citizens Demand Justice Following Officer Incident

MPR: Edina council hears criticism of policing in wake of video confrontation

And as this goes forward, keep in mind Edina’s Police Chief’s May 2014 comments about walking in the street:
edina_walking-in-street (Original document here: http://edinamn.gov/corecode/uploads/document/uploaded_pdfs/corecode_edina/MINUTES%20for%20May%2015,%202014_475.pdf)

Comment on the Edina site: http://edinamn.gov/index.php?section=contact-us

Edina City Council members:

Mary Brindle mbrindle@EdinaMN.gov
Mayor James Hovland jhovland@EdinaMN.gov
Kevin Staunton kstaunton@EdinaMN.gov
Bob Stewart rstewart@EdinaMN.gov
Ann Swenson swensonann1@gmail.com

Prior Legalectric post:

Edina cops going overboard

October 15th, 2016



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