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2006 Columns
Quarter 3: July thru September ~ Columns #14 - #20

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September 26, 2007 Column #20: Minneapolis Black police officers take action against bias. The need for Chapter 149.80: A Time to Act

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Does anyone else in this city have the courage to demand justice?

The Civil Rights Department has the authority to issue cease-and-desist discriminatory practice orders under Chapter 149.80 sub 7 of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance. The executive committee of the Black Police Officers Association (BPOA) has requested such an order be issued against the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

They asked for this in their historic meeting Tuesday, September 11, with Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights Director Michael Jordan because of the MPD's longstanding practices of discrimination, bias, and racial animus against African American police officers, other officers of color, and White officers who stand up for justice for their Black colleagues (see our columns of August 14 and 29 and Sept. 12).

The ordinance authorizes relief from those responsible -- in this case, the City of Minneapolis and its police department.

The Minneapolis City Council would be well advised to study the language and provisions of 141.80 sub 7. Information pertaining to discriminatory practices was officially made known to the executive committee of the city council, which included the mayor, at the meeting of September 12, 2007.

The response (with the exception of Councilmember Ralph Remington, Democrat, 10th Ward) was consistent with the views of the White citizenry of Jenna, Louisiana: to dismiss them. The mayor's failed challenge to us in that meeting is a sad commentary on his tenure.

History will not judge well that Minneapolis keeps alive and well the discriminatory doctrines of Justice Taney, Bilbo and Strom Thurman. We see this in rumors that Civil Rights Director Jordan is in some kind of trouble with the Rybak administration, even though he has only been in office since June 4 of this year. The administration again fails to hide how many seats of discrimination it makes available at the government of the people's table.

For over 40 years, we have watched how all too often the tenure of those who stand up against racial discrimination or the racial animus of Minneapolis city government can become extremely short (as reported in our recent columns about White MPD officer Lieutenant Keith, who was relieved of commanding the Violent Offenders Task Force in less than two and a half months).

We hope that it is untrue what we hear about the City attempting to charge Lt. Keith with violating the law on a technicality (not substance) regarding the filing of his complaint with internal affairs (a sure sign of a complaint's accuracy). And, their attempt to have federal authorities do it (they refused) on the pretense of "state secrets" reminds us of the old East Germany and the Stasi, its secret service.

Are you as troubled as I am that the police want their wrongdoing labeled a state secret?

We commend the Black Police Officers Association (BPOA) for being committed and dedicated to taking up the mantle of justice. As we continue to encourage the rest of the department to follow suit, we recognize that the BPOA fights a lonely battle against the dark demons of racism, nullification and reversal.

Is it any wonder that we hear so many people of color in the general civilian population tell horror stories of their relationships with the MPD? How much longer will civilian Black leaders and civil rights organizations stand silent?

Minneapolis City Hall has let it be known that the heavy hand of political retaliation (funding or appointments or just general relationships) will be the order of the day. City hall's denizens again fail to hide the existence of their dark side as it is once again exposed. Even worse is the fear of citizens of their elected government.

With such silence, why be surprised by the decision of the mayor to not meet as scheduled on September 12 with the leaders of our Black ecumenical community? An apology forced by bad PR won't do. Only ending his officially allowed discrimination and the showing of authentic esteem and respect will do.

Such disrespect for the Black ecumenical community reflects the same lack of respect for the BPOA and our communities of color in general. The silence of their White constituents and the White Star Tribune reflects their lack of respect as well.

In summary: The disdain, indifference, and outright animus that animates the discrimination of our city government illustrates the need for 141.80.

Just asking: Is the cheating by the New England Patriots against NFL teams and the Strib's now banned publisher's cheating against the Pioneer Press a sign of why city hall feels it can cheat its Black police officers of their on-the-job civil rights?

Just asking: Is the picture in the Sept. 20 Strib of Sondra Samuelson holding up a "Don't snitch" tee-shirt another failed attempt to rehab Don Samuels and his so-called Peace Foundation, or a "billboard" reminder to buy the banned tees out of cars as before?

Just asking: Is the Oct. 1 Forbes article showing the Vikings dead last in revenue and losing money with no local corporate sponsors a sign that they will be forced to move to survive despite the Sept. 20 Strib story saying they are still looking for stadium land?

Posted 10-2-07, 9:55 a.m.

September 12, 2007 Column #19: At MPD, retaliation is the order of the day

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Lt. Michael Keith: Since our column two weeks ago about his courageous acts, this White Minneapolis police officer’s life has become a living hell. He’s been relieved of command of the Violent Offenders Task Force (VOTF) and transferred to the Third Precinct. Rumors have circulated that he is suffering from some kind of mental disorder.

The chief’s office thinks Lt. Keith and I have talked. We’ve never met. I don’t know him. That I know about Lt. Keith is testimony to the fear of retaliation in the department and the disgust some officers have for the way officers of both colors are being treated.
When will the Police Federation speak up and stop being silent with respect to the fate of Lt. Michael Keith and other officers?

Overtime gravy train
The overtime gravy train teams up with the meanness residing in Minneapolis City Hall. Watch and listen in the corridors of city hall — it’s not a pleasant place to be.

Last week, the U.S. Senate appropriated $50 million for security at each of the 2008 Republican and Democratic conventions. Some members of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) are singing “Happy Days Are Here Again” as they try to figure out how they can spend their $50 million without getting off their behinds and still get overtime for it as well.

Will the city council ask the necessary tough questions of MPD Chief Dolan at the budget hearings this week?

The overtime gravy train has a new twist: overtime pay practically before they are back to work. On August 27 and 28 of 2007, Lt. Andy Smith — formerly of the MPD, a good friend of Chief Dolan, and recently chief of the Hudson, Wisconsin, Police Department for five months — returned to the MPD and was given Lt. Keith’s job.

Smith and MPD Sergeant Pat King each picked up 14 and a quarter hours of overtime in Smith’s first two days back. Inquiring minds want to know why.

Which raises other questions: When did Smith let it be known he wanted to come back home to the MPD? Was it when he found out that the Hudson Police Department didn’t allow the overtime gravy train? Was making room for Smith the reason Lt. Keith was pushed out, so Smith could continue his old overtime ways at taxpayers’ expense?

The department seems to have written the Broadway melodies for their game of musical chairs.

BPOA stands up
Those who say that the Black Police Officers Association (BPOA) will not stand up for their rights are wrong.

On Tuesday of this week, the most senior Black police officers in the MPD paid a surprise visit to meet behind closed doors with Minneapolis Civil Rights Department Director Michael Jordan. The word is that, based on what they told him about the levels of racism within the MPD, nothing less than the issuance of a “Director’s Charge” by Jordan’s office is expected.

Now we’ll find out who Mr. Jordan really serves. The result could be a class action lawsuit leading to federal receivership of the MPD.

It is clear that not all have a seat at the MPD’s table. Is the inability to cover up as before why the Strib reported last week that the chief apologized for his officers’ conduct involving a group of White bicyclists known as “Critical Mass”?

Educational disgrace
In our column of June 20, 2007, we offered the NAACP 10 suggestions/themes to consider at their convention, and expanded it in our solution paper of July 8, 2007. #1: “Adopt the mantra of Nellie Stone Johnson: ‘No education, no jobs, no housing’, which leads on to no health care, no family stability, and no public safety.”

Why does Minneapolis continue to deny quality education to students of color, especially our young men? Shades of plantation days? The New York Times reported on September 4, 2007, that Washington, D.C.’s almost all-Black public school system is “A National Disgrace.” A former national NAACP official stated, also on September 4, 2007, that the NAACP was at a crossroads, and that “the NAACP must make public education the civil-rights issue of our times.”

But are the NAACP’s doors still open? The last we heard they were downsizing so fast that they were about to go the route of Arthur Andersen and Enron.

Change of scenery for Vikings?
Gone are the days of sellouts. As of this writing, the Vikings are still 1,700 tickets short of the number needed to allow their home opener to be telecast.

Was Sid Hartman right August 29 that Zigy pulled out of that $45 million deal for the Star Tribune land not just because it was overpriced, but because they are “cooling a little on the Twin Cities” just as the Twin Cities has cooled on them?

Is the Vikings longboat going to finally set sail as we discussed in our columns of January 26, 2005, and October 19, 2005, and that we first predicted in November 2002? Stay tuned.

Posted 9-12-07, 2:15 a.m.

[Ed note: The prediction was in Chapter 15 of Ron's 2000 book, The Minneapolis Story, Through My Eyes. See also Ron’s “roll call” of those who called for the Vikings to leave town (because there are too many pro teams to support) or who have said without a new stadium they have to leave town, beginning with the owners before Red McCombs.

August 29, 2007 Column #18: A profile in courage and integrity—the saga of Lt. Michael Keefe

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The FBI agents reported egregious resistance to working with African Americans, with the "point" made using the "N" word and other racially charged and derogatory terms about Black police officers

Earlier this year, Lt. Michael Keefe, one of the most respected and trusted lieutenants in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), was selected to command the Violent Offenders Task Force (VOTF), funded by federal and state funds. He was selected to replace Mike Carlson, who left to work for Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek.

Lt. Keefe's reputation was that of a man of integrity who gained additional respect for courageously fighting a serious illness. We've heard nothing but superlative statements about him. Understandably, he assumed he would be given the latitude necessary to make VOTF effective.

VOTF had a disturbing dark side: Better than 98 percent of its arrests are of African Americans, it has never had a Black officer in its history, and it has a disturbing pattern of significant overtime abuse (reporting $109,000 for one individual for one year and $50,000 in another year).

Known for not tolerating racial animus and discrimination nor departmental abuses under his command, Lt. Keefe set out to make changes. He was led to believe he could rein in overtime abuse. Five month ago, WCCO shelved its investigation of this abuse after discussion with the Rybak administration.

Lt. Keefe began discussions about overtime with a sergeant who, according to reliable sources, became uncooperative and insubordinate, seeking out friends within the unit assigned to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to undermine Lt. Keefe. The DEA agents, according to the investigative report, got a high-ranking MPD official to suggest that Lt. Keefe was soft and couldn't get the job done.

At about the same time, Lt. Keefe asked the deputy chief to transfer the sergeant out of his unit. As the request was denied, he asked Assistant Chief Lubinsky, who concurred with his request.

A couple of days later, Chief Nolan reversed that decision.

Then, a few days later, Lt. Keefe was relieved of his command and transferred, despite significant performance and command ratings. No one could explain his transfer.

During initial discussions, he indicated there were other serious issues but felt the abuse of overtime would suffice. Now, relieved of his command, he filed a grievance, causing the true face and hand of the department to be revealed.

During this period, decisions were made by FBI agents attached to the unit to step forward and provide information relevant to time, place, and subject matter regarding discussions they heard at a meeting about the proposed assignment of African American officers to the unit (Lt. Keefe wasn't at the meeting). The FBI agents reported egregious resistance to working with African Americans, with the "point" made using the "N" word and other racially charged and derogatory terms about Black police officers.

This was so blatant that the FBI agents felt, in good conscience, that they could not remain silent. Keep in mind that FBI agents are required to take polygraph tests every two years.

After Lt. Keefe filed his report, the information was "mysteriously" leaked to the sergeant, other MPD officers, and DEA agents. FBI agents are now saying they will not work with MPD officers on the Task Force. The DEA agents, by supporting this racial animus, have embarrassed their own supervisor, who is an African American.

A decision by Internal Affairs to dismiss Lt. Keefe's grievance has raised tensions beyond imagination. Black law enforcement officers, who have been decimated by the racial animus and discrimination directed towards them, feel they have no future. White officers who recognize Black officers' value are likewise frustrated by their exclusion.

And our community, given such racist animus, wonders how many incidents with White officers are based on probable cause and how many have the attitude "it's only ni****s."

In discussions with the co-chair of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC), some representatives of the Department of Justice stressed the importance of "good department relationships" as they prepare for the 2008 Republican National Convention in the Twin Cities. They want the department, steeped in racism, to set their race bias aside for the convention.

And then what, resume their racism after the convention? Why not end it right now, for good, before the convention?

A request to notify the U.S. attorney for Minnesota about the strained relations between FBI agents, DEA agents and the MPD was rejected as not politically feasible at this time. Say what? When are civil rights, justice and fairness to be determined by how the political winds blow?

As the person who made the request, and as one who understands the pain and suffering of MPD African American officers, it reminds me of the racial and physical confrontations within the Cincinnati, Ohio, police department in the 1970s.

So, we salute the courage and dignity of Lt. Keefe, who happens to be White and who, reaching out for justice and fairness, was cast overboard by those to whom he had sworn loyalty and whose positions he had respected and supported.

Lt. Keefe's attempt to make authority responsible shows that he is truly a man of courage and integrity. What will happen to him now? Will the mayor and MPD chief act with the same courage and integrity? How they act will reveal the real heart of this administration and its police department.

Posted August 29, 2007, 12:01 a.m.

August 15, 2007 Column #17: Why Blacks are not allowed to command: The bleaching of the Minneapolis Police Department

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Twelve months ago, the Minneapolis Black community stood proud at the diversity finally achieved in the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). At long last, the police department was joining the Minneapolis Fire Department, renowned as the most diverse fire department in the United States.

The MPD command structure a year ago was as follows:

Much of this had been put in place by the previous chief, William McManus, now chief of police in San Antonio, Texas.

Eight months ago, in our January 17, 2007, column, we warned of "the end of diversity in the MPD" as signs suggested that the McManus Doctrine of Diversity was about to be reversed.

It was. Pride turned to anger as:

And so, by January 2008, as this city prepares to receive the Republican National Convention in September 2008, we will have a command structure that will be as White as the new driven snow that will rest on the ground of this city straddling the Mississippi River.

The Strib reported that Lee Edwards helped make some of North Minneapolis' most crime-ridden neighborhoods safer, and in only nine months. Abraham Lincoln, told of winning General Ulysses S. Grant's drinking, said, "Send him another bottle."

It appears that only City Council Member Ralph Remington (DFL, 10th Ward) understood the coming of the apocalypse, the night of the crystal, the raging fire of nullification and reversal. The Black "command" structure in the MPD is being cleansed, with none in line being groomed for command. Radio callers, somehow clueless before about such racism, now understand our longstanding warnings.

The hopes and faith that we were moving toward not only equality but fairness and justice and a level playing field, have been betrayed. Stay tuned.

Business as usual: Blacks need not apply

The deadline has taken place. The bids are being let. The bridge is going to be rebuilt (and some say completed just before the beginning of the Republican National Convention), with the new bridge getting 10 lanes.

It's going to rejuvenate the economy; yet, it's also going to make damn sure that African Americans get neither contracts nor jobs. Welcome to Mississippi Plantation North, where Minnesota Nice hides Minnesota Ice, the freezing out of the African American.

We understand that some power brokers are upset with us in this column. But, facts are facts. They will lead to the harsh judgment of history. Don't be mad at us; be mad at yourself for not standing up and asking for a piece of the American Dream.

Oh my, how we need Nellie and Cecil and all the other great voices of social change and social justice carrying the banners upholding the right of the Negro, the Black, the African American, to be included in Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, declared again in that Memphis church the day before Black America's dream of inclusion was again shattered when his life was taken.

Today's power brokers are angry because we don't cry out for Massa to continue to beat us, and because we have the audacity to seek opportunity, diversity and justice in the name of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and God.

Pray for yourselves, White Minnesota, for the day of reckoning will come for the pain and the denial that you inflict upon us under your doctrine of exclusion.

Posted 8-16-07, 2:05 a.m.

August 1, 2007 Column #16: Jurisdiction Trumps Justice: Non-Blacks Trump Blacks

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

What a great way to avoid enforcing human rights and civil rights laws: just say, "not my job," as we don't have jurisdiction. Or, if challenged just say, "its not your job: you have no jurisdiction."

Either way, the great immorality of our time is enjoined: not just pushing Blacks to the back of the civil rights bus, but kicking them off the bus all together.

We are reliving the film Ground Hog Day in Minneapolis, awaking to repeated attempts to keep Blacks away from such modern day lunch counters as major construction projects.

When Hennepin County built its new jail a number of years ago it told the City of Minneapolis in no uncertain terms that they had no authority over the county practicing segregation. The city winked. It didn't file a complaint. Blacks could be put in jail, but they couldn't work building the jail.

Remember how the University of Minnesota claimed land grant status and thus self-jurisdiction? They claim jurisdiction immunity. Again the city winked. It didn't file a complaint.

Everyone knows that the Minnesota Department of Human Rights also winks and fails to file complaints.

Remember when we asked the Minnesota Baseball Authority for a diversity plan and they responded that they had contracted with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to monitor their diversity efforts?

We wake up to again find that this new, one year old power player also claims self jurisdiction, as it blatantly hangs up its "No Blacks Need Apply" sign.

How does an enforcement agency monitor and enforce the law when it has no jurisdiction? The "interpretation" deal has been cut: they have already agreed that any attempt to file a formal complaint under the Minneapolis Civil Rights Act will be rejected based on their interpretation that we, the City of Minneapolis, have no jurisdiction. Any monitoring will be a sham. And no enforcement will take place as they have defined "diversity" so broad as to almost exclude Blacks.

One of the most outrageous doctrines of the City of Minneapolis in modern times is that the goals of minority participation can be achieved without the employment of African Americans.

Not since the emergence of the Black Codes of the 1890s, has such a repugnant, race based nullification of the franchise of the African American been declared.

We repeat, again, to a people under siege: the City of Minneapolis has embraced a policy that excludes the hiring of African Americans for these gate way projects to prosperity, construction projects and related vendor contracts.

It is no longer a whisper. Clearly, the public servants of Minneapolis have embraced this doctrine of apartheid and economic exclusion.

The secret negotiations between the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Baseball Authority give the authority a free pass to continue to dismantle the civil rights agenda in Minnesota. Understand, my friends, what is being said: you can meet your "minority" participation goals and still not have to hire any African Americans whatsoever.

We call upon the City of Minneapolis to convene a public hearing to set the record straight, and to indicate the plan for including African American citizens in the two major stadium projects. We bet it doesn't happen, as we are sure that the deal has been completed and the envelopes deposited. Nonetheless, I have filed six complaints.

Hope and salvation exist in the recent July 13, 2007 decision handed down by the Honorable Denise Cote, a Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, regarding the matter of the United States of America and the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York Vs. Westchester County, New York. See the "Opinion and Order" for file # 06civ.2860 [dlc].

The opinion by the District Court in New York State could easily apply to Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis, with respect to what is clearly their fraudulent presentations to the federal government to receive federal funds for diversity vis a vis Blacks, and in the case of the specific ruling, an intentional conspiracy to defraud the United States of America, which always means defrauding taxpayers.

Our Civil Rights Department of Minneapolis, should take note of page 31 of the opinion, where it reflects on Westchester County's failure to analyze race and the impact of the despaired treatment. In other words, its failure to monitor and enforce.

After giving the Minneapolis City Council a song and dance about an analysis that the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department was funded to do, the Civil rights Department then reported, 45 days later, just a week ago, that they were no further along in completing the task force and beginning the study than they were two years ago, yet they continue to let firms do business without having goals, without hiring black people, and without suffering any consequences whatsoever.

No wonder that on July 26, 2007, Civil Rights Leadership officials in Minneapolis said projects like the Twins stadium and Gopher stadium can meet their minority participation goals without hiring black folk, as "other" minorities will do. Bilbo must be applauding from his graveyard in Mississippi.

Posted August 1, 2007, 12:01 a.m.

July 18, 2007 Column #15: Segregation is reborn to put us back in our place

The MPS continues the war on Black men
It was with shock and disappointment that we reviewed the Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) principal assignments. With the departure of Mike Favors from North, it appears we will have no more than two or three African American males who will serve as principals for school year '07-'08. We are further concerned with the decision to order Dr. Ben Perry to serve a dual role as principal at North High School while continuing to serve as coordinator for the so-called Northside Educational Initiative.

Almost 20 years ago, the beloved and respected Dr. Richard Green became a glowing example of just such a success story as superintendent of what was then Minnesota's largest public school district. The promise then was that Blacks would be entrusted with responsibility and be in charge of programs and curriculum and the management of the business of the school district.

That promise is now betrayed, as seen in these latest assignments for the positions of principal in the MPS. This purging has not happened with African American females. It would appear that a deep conspiracy to eliminate the African American male as a role model, in this case as principals of schools, has become the order of the day.

The promise of providing equal opportunity for quality educational access for all -- including providing African American parents and students with role models to look to for inspiration regarding educational and life challenges -- is being betrayed. Stay tuned

In violation of the Supreme Court
The MPS system stands in violation of the landmark decision handed down three weeks ago by the United States Supreme Court reversing Brown vs. Topeka , as it has decided to open a school based totally on color, a Hmong school, in serious violation of federal law. And yet, we have heard nothing from either side of the aisle, neither conservatives nor liberals, about the MPS Board of Education allowing a separate facility for Hmong students.

Which other ethnic and/or racial groups will be next with their requests? And, why do Blacks again get pushed aside in favor of non-slave-descended minorities being granted special status?

The defiance of the MPS and its board of directors speaks volumes for their disdain for educational equality, and represents their continued flogging of the African American community and its children. We think, in this corner, that the African American community will have significant legal standing with the Supreme Court if a legal challenge can be mounted. Stay tuned.

Coup d'état at the Urban League
A coup d'état is a "sudden a usually small group of persons in or previously in positions of authority." Mayor R.T. Rybak and his forces are apparently to be congratulated in their sweep to power and control of the Urban League with the election of the husband of former City Council Chair Jackie Cherryhomes as chairman of the Urban League Board of Directors on a ballot with only one candidate -- theirs.

In doing so, Mayor Rybak's promise to change the face of operational Black leadership in Minneapolis has been completed. The coup d'état would have done justice to any banana republic in the Western Hemisphere. This coup also involves the powerful incursion by the University of Minnesota in controlling the African American community, both clinically and economically. Stay tuned.

Collapse of NRRC
With the economic collapse of the Northside Residents Redevelopment Council (NRRC), and with the City of Minneapolis foreclosing on its assets, to be joined later by lending institutions, one gains a better appreciation of this column's reference to the term "coup d'état." With NRRC now carrying debt in excess of one million dollars, and with the agendas of the City of Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota squeezing it economically, the African American community is being suffocated to death.

The only thing remaining is the playing of taps and the final funeral procession, all brought about by an African American leadership that knows only one declaration: the prize of being a paid sell-out in exchange for compromise, appeasement and community betrayal. Stay tuned.

In the matter of Howard Porter
The investigation by the police departments of St. Paul and Minneapolis into the circumstances surrounding the brutal beating and murder of Ramsey County Probation Officer Howard Porter has sadly collapsed. Hopefully, by the time this column is printed, the two departments will surprise us by announcing multiple suspects finally taken back into custody.

Notice what we said: "taken back" into custody. But, my friends, we have reason to believe that will not be happening. Continue to offer prayers for Howard Porter's family in Minnesota and Florida.

What all this means: civil rights un-righted
In my past positions as chair of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Commission (1979-83) and chair of the Urban League (1978-1989), I warned of the consequences of taking our eyes off the prize and enabling Minneapolis' long and consistent efforts to roll back the clock and put us back in our place by denying us jobs, education, and housing. Those consequences, and more, have arrived.

Posted July 18, 2007, 2:02 a.m.

July 4, 2007 Column #14: Where's The Jobs Plan? Minneapolis Kremlin initiates retaliation

“Through My Eyes, the Minneapolis Story Continues...”
A weekly column by Ron Edwards featured in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

Our May 9 2007 column, Blacks remain barred from big-money projects, was the fourth in two years to express our great disappointment regarding the lack of a plan for diversity (justice and fairness by including minority contractors and workers in the construction of the University of Minnesota's football facility and other major projects). The University then asked to speak to this paper, to present its side. They did (see MS-R Jun 14 cover story). They did not refute us but did promise to develop a diversity plan.

But "promises," "goals" and "commitments" won't work unless a plan is executed. We can help: the plan should include minority workforce designations, anticipated hours to be worked, categories listed by skilled and unskilled positions, reporting mechanisms, enforcement of violations of diversity goals, as well as specific steps to guarantee the inclusion of the African America community in the post construction phase, e.g., vendors, maintenance, etc.

We are troubled by the fact (not rumor), of negotiations to develop a broker to run interference for diversity. Who will provide the oversight to ensure that subterfuge doesn't become the order of the day by the general contractor, M.A. Mortenson Construction Co.?

Remember, M.A. Mortenson has the contracts for both the Gophers and Twins stadiums.

Unwarrented spin, finesse, or plain lies, won't help. We sent a letter earlier this month to the Baseball Authority (created by legislative act, House File 2480 ) expressing our concerns re the stadium's diversity compliance plan. We received a June 20, 2007 response, claiming that the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department had been retained to independently monitor the community participation goals. Documents in our possession show that the Department didn't know anything about it then.

Not only, as of mid-June, had no agreement been reached, Mortenson has only just hired a consultant to begin working on it. We are disappointed that such "inconsistent" information is being disseminated. The Attorney General of the state of Minnesota requires accurate and honest reports (see House File 2480, Section 9 [473.754] at line 5.33 and 5.34).

Our concerns were greatly heightened by the Supreme Court's Thursday, June 28 ruling (see Court Limits How Districts Integrate Schools). The court basically repealed much of Brown vs. Board of Education . We applaud the Chief Justice for his idealism: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." Read the opinions for and against.

But we respectfully remind the Chief Justice that the Supreme court put in the fix against Blacks in 1974 when it exempted suburbs from urban desegregation efforts, encouraging white flight out of the cities, leaving Blacks marginalized in inner cities. Thus the Roberts court ignores the legacy of slavery, jim crow and its own role through its rulings (e.g. Dred Scot). Will school systems now default to mirroring segregated neighborhood housing patterns?

The court is trying to reverse the New Deal's shift of responsibility from individuals and families to the federal government. But remember: it took the Federal Government to end slavery, to end Jim Crow, to establish voting rights. The states wouldn't seek racial justice and fairness without the push from the feds. The ruling last Thursday could again lead to "segregation today and forever". Denying history, the court is saying African Americans have no right to expect anything but a field of broken dreams. Will Minneapolis now overreach and say they now don't have to engage in diversity on the stadiums (justice and fairness that includes both Black contractors and workers)?

Minneapolis Kremlin initiates retaliation

Our October 26, 2006 column ( The New Members of Minnesota's Kremlin: Republicans as Oppressive as the DFL ), pointed out the intense racism in the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The column caused unhappiness in the Metropolitan Council and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Charles (Chuck) Robinson, a 19 year MTA employee, with no blemish upon his record, was terminated last week, fired outright and escorted from the property, charged with unbelievable accusations: agitator, malcontent and a terrorist, because of his action and commitment on behalf of employees of color Yet just two months ago, he and his wife Val, a respected employee of the MTA Human Resources Department, were honored with proclamations for their outstanding efforts on behalf of diversity and cultural awareness.

We are told that things are now so bad for Black employees that they are told that if they speak above a whisper about their plight, they will be terminated and escorted off of the premises by armed guards.

How bad is it? Here are two examples. A Black employee was discharged, fired outright, for using a former employee's uniform voucher to get a new uniform for work. Yet a white, senior mechanic, apprehended for falsifying documents and for stealing 70 pounds of freezone from the company stock room, was only demoted to regular mechanic grade and allowed to return to work, even though most of the 70 pounds is still missing, causing EPA and Homeland Security to initiate an intense investigation into the theft. Freezone was one of the ingredients in the bombing of the Muira Building in Oklahoma, a decade ago.

What "independence" to celebrate working for America's new version of the old Kremlin.

Posted June 20, 2007, 3:45 a.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

Permission is granted to reproduce The Minneapolis Story columns, blog entires and solution papers. Please cite the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder and for the columns. Please cite for blog entries and solution papers.

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