Mpls police killed T.T. Franklin for being Black — Racism, individual and institutional, is alive and well in our fair city


ThroughMyEyesnewThere was a lot of hatred directed at and rained down upon T.T. Franklin May 10 in that poorly lighted basement at 2717 Bryant Ave. South, away from prying eyes, enabling public safety to once again turn its back on transparently serving the people, enabling public safety officers to engage in another wrongful death as they savagely mutilated and shot to death a young man hiding from them, not burgling.

Five SWAT members, all armed, in flak jackets, with a K-9 biting and chewing on T.T. Franklin, would have us believe that multiple shots and almost blowing his head apart was unavoidable as opposed to tasering him. How was that “protecting with courage”?

Minneapolis pays millions in wrongful death awards, doesn’t sanction its killers, while institutions that claim they care stay silent.

We need public safety. We need well-trained police. We honor those who serve honorably. But there is that contingent in the Minneapolis Police Department who are not honorable. We have written on it in many columns, listed by date and title in our July 14, 2008 paper (and updated since — see website below).

And yet, here we go again, as the bad apples of public safety again deliver the department’s long-held hatred of the Black community.

Bad apples have spoiled more than the police department. You can see the spoilage in the silence of White and Black churches, foundations, universities and colleges, public policy think tanks, other do-gooding nonprofits, corporations, and the elected: governor, mayor, city council. Their silence exposes the depth of that spoilage.

The hatred directed towards Mr. Franklin can’t be put back in its bottle. Hatred festers. Hatred ignores forgiveness of the small so it can act violently large. Dangerous people are applying hatred based on race that they have been given power to apply.

It’s in this city’s DNA. In 1991, the Star Tribune and Mpls-St Paul Magazine each acknowledged this hatred as widespread. One cover story: “We are still racists.”

People are scared to talk about it. We have the brutal death examples of Tycel Nelson, Sal Saron Scott, Quincy Smith, Dominic A. Felder, David Cornelius Smith, and now T.T. Franklin — all Black Americans. We also have the tragedy of Asian police officer Duy Ngo’s career-ending shooting at the hands of fellow officers. These cases represent the hatred within this department for its own officers of color.

The department destroyed the Black Police Officers Association in 2007. It took no action against Lt. Andy Smith and Sgt Pat King, who, in testimony in May of 2012, under oath, accused African American officers by name as being “scum of the earth,” unfit to be police officers, drug dealers, bribe takers, etc.

Sadly, there are some in the Minneapolis Police Department who equate Black officers with being like Afghan soldiers and officers who cannot be trusted nor depended upon in working with White officers in this police department.

Their chilling testimony, laced with disdain and hatred for fellow Black officers, demonstrates the hatred that brought about the death of T.T. Franklin on May 10. Even more chilling: no sanctions. Instead: transferred to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department. Result: a chilling and fatal message that reinforces the hatred in the killing of T.T. Franklin, almost blowing his head off with multiple shots. This is not public safety. This is not “protection under law.”

Those investigating this shooting will support and reinforce the hatred and malice aforethought that drives the actions and policies bringing about the deaths, mutilations and maiming of African Americans.

When DeMarco Hodges was almost beaten to death by Minneapolis police officers in November 2012, pubic safety protection was given the beaters, not the beaten. Will we see the same regarding the death of T.T. Franklin?

Too often, for their own agendas, Black leadership ignores the existence of such hatred against Black Americans. Ignoring the hatred by White and Black leaders as hate and disdain jeopardizes the stability and future relationships between the Black community and the institutions that look the other way (churches, foundations, study centers).

Silence is not abstaining. It is affirming.

I repeat: The horrors in that basement at 2717 Bryant the afternoon of May 10, 2013 are chilling. Young Mr. Franklin was killed for no other reason than for being Black. He was a human being shown little regard, as the shooters’ sense of great comfort and immunity told them they could torture, beat, put their K-9 on Mr. Franklin, and then watch him die, knowing there would be no consequences for their action.

Shame, Minneapolis. Shame, Minnesota. This will not change until those standing silent on the sidelines step up and say, “No more.” As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.” Who will stand up?

Stay tuned.


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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 Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at Columns are archived at www.theminneap



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