Ron Edwards

Recent Articles

A Civil Rights and faith leader passes from the American scene

As discussed last week, the Rev. Dr. Lillian Anthony was the first Director of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, appointed in late 1967 by then Mayor Arthur Naftalin. Dr. Anthony quietly passed from this life at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, June 26, 2014. Her memorial will be in Louisville, July 11, 2014. The Rev. Dr. Anthony’s history, legacy and accomplishments are legendary. She was clearly the right choice to head the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, setting a new tone for race relations in the city. Continue Reading →

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The need for a new Lillian Anthony

First director of Minneapolis Civil Rights Department
 This column provides a timeline to further understand our discussion of the failure of the Civil Rights Department and Commission, including that of current director, Velma Korbel (hence our call last week for her dismissal). We forget these dates and events at our peril:
• June 30, 1963: Mayor Arthur Naftalin, in his Second State of the City address, warned about issues of racial division ripping the city (Minneapolis Star, July 1, 1963). Fifty-one years later they still hold. Mayor Naftalin offered a “Blueprint for Action,” and called for institutions and instruments for the social justice, for a Civil Rights Department and Commission. • July 18, 1965, “Is non-violence wearing thin?” Minneapolis Tribune headline. Continue Reading →

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Velma Korbel must go!

Resignation must be submitted immediately
 
It is not often that a Minneapolis City Agency Department Director receives separate, negative stories in the Star Tribune on the same day, reporting incompetence and belligerent leadership. Velma Korbel accomplished this June 16, 2014. Star Tribune headlines:

• “Divisive Minneapolis civil rights official in hot seat again”

• “Korbel speech ‘magnified’ concerns about management style”

• “Report: Minority participation in Minneapolis contracts falling”

Compare those with the reporting in these selected MSR columns over the past five years:

• “Toxic and corrupt environment in civil rights department,” April 10, 2014

• “A reappointment that is a mistake: Velma Korbel to again head the Department of Civil Rights,” February 19, 2014

• “Justice for David Cornelius Smith: In spite of obstruction of justice from the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department,” June 5, 2013

• “Will Blacks finally get a fair share of work on this stadium? Chair of stadium authority raises serious questions about past inclusion,” February 20, 2013

• ”Minneapolis Continues its fairy tale of compliance. Only painful sanctions will make these tales come true,” December 15, 2010

Director Korbel does not meet the administration/management responsibilities entrusted to her office, nor does she follow the agency’s responsibility to fight discrimination and civil rights violations. Continue Reading →

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The tragedy of guns in the streets

Another senseless death
 

Maya Angelou passed May 28. She had her finger “on the pulse of morning.” She had her “caged bird” sing a prayer of freedom to rise above the “bitter, twisted lies” people of color must contend with, for, as she wrote, “Still I rise.”

The caged bird sings in classic Black gospel fashion, lifting up a prayer through its tears, yearning to be free. May our leaders raise their song for freedom too, rather than acquiesce to the gun songs that cage our young people or the bureaucratic dependency programs that cage their parents. A 17-year-old was shot and killed June 1st on the 1600 block of Newton Avenue N. His death fosters another round of talking about solutions but not attempting to open cage doors. Unless you have lost a child to violence, its hard to know and understand the feeling. Continue Reading →

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Keefe file now open to the public

Sgt. Michael Keefe waits his day in court
 

“A profile in courage and integrity: Lt. Michael Keefe,” is the headline of my August 29, 2007 column. Lt. Keefe “would tolerate neither racial animus and discrimination nor departmental abuses under his command.” The closing two sentences of that column were, “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.”

Retaliation included demotions and transfers, despite significant performance and command ratings. Although I had never talked with Lt. Keefe, I wrote several columns about this and filed a civil rights complaint against the Minneapolis Police Department and then-Mayor RT Rybak and then-Police Chief Tim Dolan. Continue Reading →

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Returning to an old order after 30 years

A retreat for Black leaders to plan actions to enable Whites to feel safe

What horn will midnight hear? The Calvary bugler sounding retreat from battle? Gabriel’s trumpet leading the Halleluiah chorus? The morning wake-up horn calling retreat members to begin discussions for addressing violence in the community? History reveals good and bad leaders and shepherds, and the shifts that occur from heroic sacrifices to keep eyes on the prize (as during slave and Jim Crow days), to becoming paid bureaucrats of “solution organizations” that “look the other way” to maintain the status quo. Continue Reading →

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Equity in light rail postponed again

The Star Tribune ran stories last week about light rail in the metro area. The real interpretation: purposeful denial, again, of light rail equity for North Minneapolis. Star Tribune reported, May 12, 2014, that African Americans believe North Minneapolis is “not getting its fair share of transit amenities, despite having a heavily transit-dependent population,” and that there is a “drastic difference between service and amenities in other parts of the city like Uptown and the south side.” In other words, jobs for White city plantation bureaucrats and White construction workers, and more transit for White areas. We need action, not more talk. Back in 2008 and 2009, Black legislators and leaders were talking about a big public-works project involving light rail in North Minneapolis. Continue Reading →

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Safe streets promoted for White baseball

Selective reporting keeps the true level of violence concealed
 

George Orwell’s masterpiece 1984 helps us understand Minneapolis granting temporary “Big Brother” status to Major League Baseball for summer 2014’s All Star Game week:  “temporary…and related special event permits will not be approved or issued by the City of Minneapolis without the additional approval of Major League Baseball.” (Star Tribune, May 3, 2014)

Minneapolis granted temporary Big Brother status earlier for the Vikings stadium, although the Vikings didn’t ask for it as did MLB. We want safe streets for all neighborhoods, not just for downtown stadium and lake neighborhoods. We recognize we live in “1984” in government surveillance, manipulating and falsifying information for “the greater good,” and in newspapers re-writing history to match current party line: “selective reporting:”

• 18 straight days of shootings, few reported

• 18 homicides in Little Somalia over last three years, few reported. • Star Tribune reported May 6 two White girls stabbed May 5 and reported shooting in New Brighton

• 30 days earlier, three young African American females shot and wounded in North Minneapolis, yet unreported

When authorities announced on May 6 the arrest of three young African Americans for the April 12, 2014 shooting and paralyzing of a young African American near the All Star site, the Star Tribune finally reported the shooting. Again: selective reporting. Continue Reading →

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Gang summit in Mpls

Preparing for summer 2014
 

The “invitation only” “North Side Safety Summit” (“Gang Summit”) was held April 18, 2014, in North Minneapolis at the School District’s West Broadway headquarters. The Star Tribune reported “why” April 19, 2014: “The city’s North Side has seen one-third of the city’s violent crime and half of the city’s shootings over the past 14 years… Violent crime rose 24 percent…due to more assaults and robberies…centered around the Folwell, Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods.”

The purpose of the summit was to find solutions for summer 2014’s anticipated gang violence. Star Tribune: “Some 70 public officials…gathered…to talk about pervasive crime numbers and how to lower them.” The “containment” until winter hibernation returns is not a solution. The real solution, as I wrote about in my April 3, 2014 column, is to end the city political culture that results in providing little for the least among us in education, job opportunities, housing, health care, and further decline in families and community. It should have been called the Summit of Denial. Continue Reading →

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The continuing battle of Sgt. Michael Keefe

And the disappearance of  Black police officers from the MPD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See my August 29, 2007 column regarding the courageous battle waged by Lt. Michael Keefe of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), “A profile in courage and integrity — the saga of Lt. Michael Keefe” (link below). Keefe was demoted to sergeant as part of a mean-spirited vendetta against this White officer and against some African American police officers. The August 2007 column provides insight into the latest battles currently being fought within the city and within its police department. And even though Mayor Betsy Hodges and city council members have said they are committed to equity and fairness in the governance of the city of Minneapolis, a couple of major battles centering around equity in the MPD questions their commitment. The first deals with the attempt by the City of Minneapolis, in State District Court, to avoid releasing information from the now six-and-a-half year lawsuit battle brought by then Lt. and now Sgt. Continue Reading →

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