By Ron Edwards
Unfortunately, the dark forces that took his life remain at large
The wrongful death of Dominic Felder at the hands of Minneapolis police on September 20, 2006, along the 3900 block of Bloomington Avenue South, cannot be reversed. But a measure of justice was received by his family when a federal jury awarded them $1.8 million for his wrongful death, as reported by the Star Tribune on October 25.
When others took a different view four years ago, this paper stood for the fight for justice (see my September 27, 2006 column “Loss of Life, Death of Another Dream”). In my January 3, 2007 column, I called the city’s treatment of the case “a whitewash” and “a cover-up.”
White and Black leaders ignored it and refused to stand up for justice.
Alone in Minneapolis, this paper maintained its long-held stand for justice.
In that January 3, 2007 column, I wrote that at some point in time, the truth will become known. And hopefully, within the lifetime of his two children, justice for them and their late father will come about. Now it has, four years later.
Dominic Felder was killed just five weeks after the police committed another wrongful killing, that of Fong Lee (see my column of October 6, 2010).
At the time of these police homicides, I was serving as co-chair of the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC), a committee formed because of ongoing hostilities between communities of color and the City of Minneapolis and its police department. These killings are but two examples.
When I arrived at the scene of Dominic Felder’s death, a four-block perimeter had already been set up. That told me that either there had been a running gun battle or there was a need for a cover-up. Last week, four years later, a federal jury pulled the cover back to expose the wrongful death.
The jury verdict enabled the historic award to Dominic Felder’s family of $1.8 million, the largest compensation in Minnesota for the wrongful death of an African American by police. (The largest compensation settlement ever paid was $4.2 million to Duy Ngo, shot in 2003.)
I knew that my call for justice in my column of January 3, 2007 would be a lonely and controversial piece. I persevered despite many who believed there would never be justice for the two young daughters of Dominic Felder. But sometimes the hand of justice is extended to an African American.
But here is what’s most disturbing and troubling: At the end of the day, despite a few days’ suspension, the same two police officers responsible for Dominic Felder’s wrongful death will be patrolling our streets. Their same chief will be encouraging their mayhem and misconduct, and the same city council will be confirming that chief.
The same mayor will be giving aid and comfort to their acts of injustice and violence, and the same taxpayers will have to pay for their actions.
And so, in the final analysis, the dark forces of terror will still have a free pass to end the lives and the dreams of African American citizens.
Quincy Smith, David Cornelius Smith, Montel Williams and others, by virtue of their deaths at the hands of police, confirm this observation.
City officials know the money won’t come out of their pockets. The system is fixed so that the taxpayers bail out the lawsuits.
You have to remember, my friends, that this was a civil case. The county attorney intentionally botched the criminal case, and the so-called “leadership” of our community did not step up front and center to call for justice. Only the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder held firm to its longstanding commitment to social justice.
The perseverance of Dominic Felder’s family and attorneys enabled this quest for justice to finally come to trial. The hard work of the attorneys laying out all of the facts, including the contradictory statements of the police, enabled the jury to give the verdict that, in the taking of Mr. Felder’s life, there was also a violation of his civil rights.
Our prayers and best wishes are with the family of Dominic Felder. May his soul and his legacy rest a little more peacefully in the halls of justice.
Vikings: Metrodome or leave?
The 10-25-10 Star Tribune reported “Minnesota Poll: Most oppose new Vikings stadium.”
When will the Star Tribune join the call to keep the Vikings here (see my 1-26-05 column)? Or are they still on the 2003 list calling for the Vikings to leave?
Ron hosts Black Focuson Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm and co-hosts Blog Talk Radio’s ON POINT!Saturdays at 5 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOn TheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers and web log at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.