Will there be positive change in the treatment of our Black communities?
Happy New Year! We will work to make it so by staying focused on the prize of civil rights and equal opportunity for all, White as well as people of color. How Minneapolis responds will determine whether or not positive changes are made in education, jobs, housing, public safety and police community relations.
For instance, County Attorney Mike Freeman has to make a decision about the Mohammed Noor case, if he hasn’t already done so as of the writing of this column. Rumors are circulating that disastrous reports about the poor quality of the Noor investigation and Freeman’s bad mouthing of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, led to a serious reprimand of the county attorney by Governor Mark Dayton, and has caused Freeman to change his mind about whether to send the case to the grand jury this election year.
His comments recorded without his knowledge at a Christmas party being given by one of the labor unions has created negative political fallout for him — a problem of his own creation. Some people should not drink and talk at the same time, because you don’t know who is listening.
Passing the buck to a grand jury to make the decision to charge or not to charge allows the county attorney to seek an escape hatch for his political future. As we reported last week, the officer-involved shooting in the police precinct still has to be dealt with. This comes on the heels of an investigative report by Curtis Gilbert, of American Public Media (APM). APM’s station brands include MPR (Minnesota Public Radio).
Gilbert’s lengthy December 14, 2017 report confirms our analysis that evaluations by city employees, “screened out too many minority candidates,” and it resulted in significant misuse of public dollars. That money was used to disqualify and block the hiring of Native Americans, African Americans and others of color who applied for positions with the Minneapolis Police Department. Gilbert has documented $480,000, not to mention the lawsuit I’ve written about since 2006, where five officers sued over the screening process. The city denied the claim, but settled the suit for $740,000. Between just these two screening case figures the $1,220,000 comes under the heading of waste, misuse of funds, and greater taxes.
The incoming mayor and city council has to determine whether or not to investigate and initiate evaluations, covered in Gilbert’s report and per my recommendation at the public hearing on the appointment of Chief Medaria Arradondo. The new incoming mayor and city council must consider taking action and filing criminal charges. We are concerned that the vast network of political connections will block the new officials from taking corrective action to present a formal criminal complaint. I, again, invite readers of this column to review Curtis Gilbert’s report on the Minnesota Public Radio investigation, our column of August 3, and our blog entries of July 16, 20, 21 22, 24 and 26.
We urge the incoming new mayor and city council to remember what Thurgood Marshall reminded us of, “the rights and privileges of citizenship, as well as its attendant responsibilities,” take appropriate action, and not make the false charge that Chief Arradondo and the communities of color did not alert Minneapolis White City government of this historical disaster based on race.
I’ve written about it for a decade; it is not a secret. We wait to see if the city’s incoming officials will stand up and be counted or slink into the walls of silence, as their predecessors did.
Ron hosts radio and TV shows. To read his solutions papers, books, and archives go to www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.