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January ~ Entry #1

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1-17-06, Blog #1: An Open Letter to the Minneapolis Mayor and the Chief of Police

January 17, 2006

To: Mayor RT Rybak and Chief of Police William McManus


I write this open letter to you on behalf of Ms. Erline Skinner, the mother of Tycel Nelson. I do so in my role as spokesperson for her family.

As the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported, 15 years ago, the then Chief of Police refused to approve the Medal of Valor for Sgt. Dan May for the mistaken shooting of Tycel, Ms. Skinner’s 17 year old son. The paper also reports that our current Chief says that if he had known of it he wouldn’t have approved it either. So the first step toward healing is to admit there is a grievous wound, not just to Ms. Skinner, but to the whole Black community.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune also reported the words of Sgt. Dan May on January 13 and 14. After reviewing his expressions of understanding of the pain and humiliation placed upon the family of Ms. Skinner, the African American community and, by extension, the City of Minneapolis, Ms. Skinner says it is clear that Sgt. May understands the damage that has been done.

Therefore, Ms. Skinner, wanting the process of reconciliation and healing to begin, makes the following request: that during the celebrations this week of Martin Luther King, Jr., a time of fellowship and in the spirit of reconciliation and healing, that Sgt. Dan May be allowed to return the Medal of Valor to the committee, and that this act be recognized as the first step toward healing and reconciliation.

This would be a fitting act for this week that celebrates not only Dr. King’s accomplishments but also his method of non-violence. As he said hours before his death, “we have to institutionalize nonviolence and take it international.” Ghandi understood it would never work in the USSR. But it can work in Minneapolis when we try to live, in Lincoln’s words, by our better Angels. Thus, we need you gentlemen to summon the courage to lead this city to live by its better angels in a campaign of non-violence against our communities of color.

Ms. Skinner, her family, and the African American community should expect nothing less and thus her request bears repeating: that you, gentlemen, provide the courage and the leadership to see that the city live by its better angels, beginning with the return of the medal to the committee that awarded it.

Yours in the continued Struggle, and with the Blessings of God,

Ronald A. Edwards
Spokesperson for Ms. Erline Skinner and family
Posted 1-17-06, 7:07 p.m.

Ron hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm. Formerly head of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission and the Urban League, he continues his “watchdog” role for Minneapolis. Order his book, hear his voice, read his solution papers, and read his between columns “web log” at

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