Last night in a moment captured all over the country and parts of the world, people witnessed in Minneapolis an amazing moment of lucidity, clarity and sense of purpose. My fellow protestors lead brilliantly by John Thompson, Chauntyll Allen, Michelle Gross, Curtis Avent Jacob Ladda, Emily Flower,AJ Cardenas Nekima Levy-Pounds ( who would have been with us but was having her baby) KingDemetrius Pendleton (Listen Media) and a few others, with an uncanny sense of timing turned Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges press conference into the people’s press conference calling, for her resignation, while denouncing the unresponsiveness, lawlessness and ineffectiveness of her administration in meeting the needs (especially safety from the police violence) of its constituents.
Hodges called the conference to appease the demand for justice for victims of police violence, the latest of which was Justine Damond, by firing the current police chief Janae Harteau and appointing Black assistant chief Medaria Arradondo as the new chief.
But the effort to hoodwink and distract the public was exposed by anti- police violence activists before she could make her announcement. John Thompson rightly called on her and her entire staff to resign saying, “if the mayor can’t represent us then she ought to step down.”
“This is our house you can’t lock us out of our house,” said Thompson during the “Peoples Press Conference. He very astutely pointed out that the problems in City Hall has been going on for decades.
During “OUR” conference I chimed in as well, making the point that cosmetic changes aren’t enough, but what is needed is an overhaul of the entire system of policing and the system that it serves. I also pointed out that we won’t be tricked by simply having a “Black face in a White place.” Arrodondo indeed is my color and a nice guy, he has been thoughtful and respectful in all of my interactions with him over the years.
But he has sided with an institution that has historically and currently serves as an occupying and oppressive and brutal force in our community. The mayor’s firing of the police chief was like putting clean or new clothes on a dirty body, while it might look good on the outside, the body still stinks.
The problem is the institution of policing and the system they protect. The hard truth is as long as this socio-economic-political system is in place, there will be a need for this kind of policing. The kind of policing in which police intimidate harass, brutalize, bully and sometimes kill people. Until we decide we want to live in a just and equitable society, we will have the police (as we now know them), whose job is to maintain and reinforce societal divisions of race, sex, nationality and religion and clean up the fall- out from a fundamentally unjust and inequitable society.
The people advanced an unassailable argument, ”Why should we pay taxes for you to brutalize and kill us?” City Hall is supposed to be representative of the people and we shouldn’t have to beg folks in it to do our bidding. And as John pointed out, “even the furniture is ours”.
Its becoming more clear that the people ought to run this city and other Big cities, the people should run this country and not the profiteers, the warmongers, the blood suckers and parasites.
Our group got right to the point. Not only police chief Harteau, but the mayor, her staff and the whole damn system should be thrown out.
People want to be policed by a force that recognizes their humanity.
But this will only come about in a society that changes its values and ultimately changes the class who leads it. This present society is run by the ruling class, the bosses for the needs of profit.
Most major decisions revolve around what is it good for Big Business rather than what’s good for the majority; the citizens.
Mayor Hodges doesn’t represent us no more than the mayor before her and the mayor before her and the mayor before that represented the interests of the city.
Hodges refused to stand up for her clientele when the state legislature threatened to cut the transit budget for the Twin Cities. She and many of her cronies opposed efforts to implement a $15 minimum wage despite the fact that the vast majority of the citizens in the city signed on to it in a referendum.
She has failed to stand up for single women who face discrimination from landlords who saddle them with bad rental records for simply asking for lawful repairs and upkeep. She and her administration has only paid lip service to the employment discrimination in this city, which at one point lead the nation in Black and White unemployment disparity. Blacks at one point were three times more likely to be unemployed than Whites in Minneapolis.
And when Blacks have been brutalized by police, Hodges, Harteau and County Attorney Mike Freeman have responded by patronizingly telling the community how they should behave and respond to the system’s denial of justice.
Time indeed for a change and we indeed are the people who can bring it about!
justice then peace