Gang summit in Mpls

Preparing for summer 2014


ThroughMyEyesnewThe “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.

This is another example of what Minneapolis officialdom (Mayor Betsy Hodges, City Council, City agencies, foundations, Black churches, White churches, corporations) share, as I wrote in last week’s column: “the opposite of commitment to equity and fairness in the governance of the city.” Although geared for North Minneapolis, few African Americans were invited. Only 12 attended, including only two Black law enforcement officers, Keith John Harrington of the Metro Transit Police, and Eddie Frizell, MPD Deputy Chief.

Another lack of commitment example: when longtime Civil Rights Activist Spike Moss asked to be allowed to participate, they debated whether to let him. A City Council member was heard saying Mr. Moss was not welcome as they wanted a quiet meeting. That mean-spirited attitude reflects an older time of White America: wanting “our kind of Black folks,” not those who will raise tough questions. Happily, Mr. Moss had strong support, including that of Hennepin County Sheriff, Rick Stanek. He was allowed to stay.

Nonetheless, gang warfare arose from its winter slumber. That evening, two African American young men were shot in North Minneapolis; one was left paralyzed. Two young men were shot and wounded outside Target Field, one left paralyzed. Another was shot and wounded when major fighting broke out along 5th and Hennepin, in downtown Minneapolis. Within a 12-day period, two were shot and paralyzed.

Neither “containment” nor “camps” are the right solutions, nor is dusting off and redeploying community patrols in so-called hot spots, raising three questions: Will they have trained backup? Will they receive necessary intelligence data? Will they be given police powers? Experience tells us: “of course not.” So what purpose will be served?

Chamber of Commerce will be nervous not about North Minneapolis but about whether White citizens will come to spend millions of dollars in the Twin Cities for summer events, including baseball’s all-star game.

Seventy public officials at the summit (judges, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, etc): all nervous and anxious. Do they have a plan? If so, why wasn’t it revealed?

Why weren’t a larger number of African Americans trusted to be a party to the discussion? The plan seems to be to continue to contain Black youth in poor education, poor housing, poor family structure, poor job and employment prospects. That is the greater violence.

Black law enforcement was disrespected and dismissed when only two Black officers were there, and yet not involved in the discussion. That we are not expected to ask “why” speaks volumes exposing the North Side Summit of Denial.

Stay tuned.


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