Anger over the killing of Philando Castile by St. Anthony police only months after the death of Jamar Clark at the hands of the Minneapolis police, motivated the formation of BLEXIT, “A Strategic Movement towards Black Independence through economic boycotting, civil disobedience and organized investment into the Black economy,” according to the website. Community members also decided to start the Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP).
“You can’t throw a rock without hitting a predatory banking business, which puts people in a bad situation in North Minneapolis,” said Me’Lea Connely, director of ABEP. She was referring to the many check-cashing businesses, which community members feel use predatory practices to target members of the Black community. During one of the meetings, community members decided they needed to divest from the current banks and create a firewall between financial institutions and community activist organizations. They formed ABEP.
“We’re hoping this project will create an economic renaissance, especially in North Minneapolis. We want to see collective economics. We’re really hoping this project can be a symbol to show our community is worth investing in and helping to end the equity gap,” Connely said.
With Minnesota being the second-worst state in the country for the Black community, many members of the community hope that forming ABEP will encourage customers of all ethnic backgrounds to join the credit union and keep it going.
Current goals for the ABEP are to establish a name for the credit union and position the company with a national organization. They plan to release more information soon.
For more information on ABEP, visit their website at abepmn.org or phone 651-472-4392.
Chris Juhn is a contributing photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.