Minneapolis burning

May 28th, 2020

(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minneapolis is burning, and it’s been smoldering for quite a while. I just woke up after a rough night of long-distance watching the livestreams, as I’m sure you have, and your thoughtfulness this morning has eased my headache.

As Jim Bernstein (can we have you back in Commerce, please?!?) said on the Mpls yak-yak list, “I intensely dislike the looting and vandalism but I must admit I am not angry about it; I reserve that anger for the Minneapolis Police officers and their stone cold silence. I believe the looting and smashing of police vehicles is of no consequence when measured against four police officers participating in the killing of a citizen and acting as if nothing of consequence happened.” In the context of looting and vandalism, after watching hours of police on top of and surrounding 3rd Precinct firing rubber bullets, flashbangs and teargas indiscriminately directly at people standing quietly, pepper-spraying those within reach, most with hands in the air, the violence started not long after the 3rd person (reported, but were there more) was hit in the head. The actions of the police were offensive, there was no effort at deescalation. Over the interwebs, it looked like retribution and retaliation for the firing of the 4 cops.

I had hopes for Arradondo’s term as Chief, but his words and demeanor in recent press conferences, and those of Mayor Frey, are not consistent with behavior of police I saw yesterday. Yes, they need to be leaders, and it takes more than words — where were they yesterday when police were picking off and inciting demonstrators? Who benefits from the violence? Google Bob Kroll, and there he is in his “Police for Trump” T-shirt on stage at the Minneapolis Trump rally. The U.S. is deeply divided and obscenely partisan. Blue Minneapolis, and Minnesota too, are now destabilized and in eruption. A look at fb will show a far different perception than the words in this thread. Who benefits from the violence? Who benefits from destabilization?

We’re on or over the precipice of change, and while we may have little or no influence, we’ve got to work on the type of change, the result, the landing. We have another chance to rebuild our society, to rebuild as we’ve failed to do before. It’s not “just” racism, but our economic system as well. Those of us with privilege have a lot of work to do, but what? Damned if I know.

The “easy” part is to push for swift prosecution of the murderer and his accomplices. Another “easy” part is to push MPD on the Department of Justice recommendations. The harder part is beyond the MPD, to the systemic change that we have for centuries refused to do. I have no clue how to get to “liberty and justice for all.” The realization that we weren’t there hit this impressionable kid hard while saying the Pledge one winter day back in 4th grade at Armatage, reinforced doing gruntwork in the Harry Davis for Mayor campaign, and my first hearing testimony to the School Board about desegregation of Minneapolis Public Schools and the fierce and ugly resistance to bussing.  50+ years of life since then has taught me that advocating has to do with visible, public action, with “choices” in day to day life, and fervent participation, that’s nothing new. But equality, equity? Demanding equity does not make it so. That change will not come easily. Those of us on the privileged end of things have an obligation and responsibility that many of us are already well aware of and have been working on for a long time — but what to do now?

Suggestions welcome, please!!!

p.s. Yesterday while watching Unicorn Riot, I was reminded of the trucker’s strike at that same location ~90 years ago. My father lived nearby and told stories of running through the streets evading bullets flying.  Meridel LeSuer’s account, “What Happens in a Strike,” is worth rereading today.


And this white guy agent-provocateur, he was seen breaking the windows of AutoZone:

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