A 150-year-old Black fraternal organization brutalized by police raid
Elks lodge websites state they are “places where neighbors come together, families share meals, and children grow up.”
So why, at a time when the issue of excessive force discussions are going on nationwide in the aftermath of the February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin killing, would 50 police cars and 60 police officers of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) descend on the Ames Elks Lodge of Minneapolis at 11:40 pm, CDT, on April 21, 2012, without first checking to see if the 911 call that shots were being fired and people were endangered was true or false?
It was false. Didn’t matter.
And why did Police Chief Dolan knock people down as they attempted to clear the building, and then on the second floor have the dozen or so they found, male and female African Americans over 50, get on the floor and then kick, prod and poke them?
The lesson we learn is that the racial tensions experienced during the five years I served on the PCRC (Police Community Relations Council) meetings have continued unabated. No wonder downtown streets are “dead” at night and people wonder where will the customers come from for a rejuvenated Block E and other development to surround a Vikings stadium.
People paying attention suggest it was in response to the three Caucasian males shot and killed in North Minneapolis in the last 10 months, that the police want to teach our Black community a proper lesson. The most recent White tragedy was a 21-year-old Caucasian male shot and killed along the 3500 block of Fremont Avenue North.
So the old lessons prevail: White lives are sacred, and privileged; Blacks’ are not. But it still makes a difference to us how many Black citizens are victims of violence in the city of Minneapolis.
The actions and deeds of the City, big corporate and White folks in general suggest they really don’t care. The false 911 call just before midnight of a shooting and gunfire inside the Ames Lodge must have caused the adrenaline to really flow. Despite no guns or shootings, WCCO and other White media reported gunshots and injuries.
Just think: 50 squad cars, 60 officers (although there has been no such police response when Blacks were killed). What most caught our attention, including Elks officials and security personnel, was the level of racial venom, racial animus and racial slurs directed towards both the male and female Blacks on the floor by both White male and female cops standing over them, even after the single suspect in the incident was taken into custody. There were no Black officers among this contingent of officers kicking, prodding, and poking us, despite the department’s claims to have diversity.
They were not kicking gang bangers. They didn’t recognize me. They were just kicking and abusing and raining down verbal and physical assaults on African Americans over 50.
Question: Would White members over 50 of a White fraternal organization — such as the Shriners, White Elks, Knights of Columbus — be subject to such abuse?
Answer: I don’t think so. And neither do you.
This is a case that is racially driven, racially motivated, reflecting a disturbing pattern of racial animus and hatred against African Americans still residing inside too many of Chief Tim Dolan’s 1,000-member MPD. Not everyone, but even one is too many, especially if he or she is beating, prodding and poking older African Americans on the floor.
They are “to protect and serve” all. They don’t want us to remember that this police department was under federal review by the Department of Justice from 2004-2008 for racial incidents.
What lessons can we assume were learned by the police April 21 regarding how to improve race relations between police and community in this city? Is it Chief Dolan’s inability to stop the calls for change that caused him last week to announce his early retirement?
No one, Black or White, deserves the physical and verbal abuse rained down upon us April 21, 2012. Is the police message that the summer of 2012 will be one in which African Americans will be punished and disrespected, that lessons about how to better race relations in this city will continue to be ignored?
Certainly for those like me who were there, on the floor, being kicked, cursed and disrespected, that is a fair question. We await the City’s answer.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnThe Hill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development, “web log,” and archives at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.