From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Minneapolis Council Member: 'Police in the City Failed Us' in Protest Response; The Death of George Floyd, in Context
Date May 29, 2020 6:09 AM
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[ The video of Floyds death is horrific but not surprising;
terrible but not unusual, depicting a kind of incident that is
periodically reënacted. Its necessary and, pedestrian to observe that
policing in this country is mediated by race.] [[link removed]]


MINNEAPOLIS COUNCIL MEMBER: 'POLICE IN THE CITY FAILED US' IN PROTEST
RESPONSE; THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, IN CONTEXT  
[[link removed]]

 

Andy Mannix and Miguel Otárola; Jelani Cobb; Tony Williams, Leilah
Abdennabi and Sheila Nezhad
May 28, 2020

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_ The video of Floyd's death is horrific but not surprising; terrible
but not unusual, depicting a kind of incident that is periodically
reënacted. It's necessary and, pedestrian to observe that policing in
this country is mediated by race. _

Protesters gathered at Chicago Ave. and East 38 th Street in South
Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd., Carlos Gonzalez -
Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Minneapolis Council Member: 'Police in the City Failed Us' in Protest
Response - Andy Mannix and Miguel Otárola (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
The Death of George Floyd, in Context - Jelani Cobb (The New Yorker)
Background: Police Problems in Minneapolis Not New - Editorial
counterpoint: We must look beyond police for community safety - Tony
Williams, Leilah Abdennabi and Sheila Nezhad (Minneapolis Star
Tribune)

 

MINNEAPOLIS COUNCIL MEMBER: 'POLICE IN THE CITY FAILED US' IN PROTEST
RESPONSE; THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, IN CONTEXT

City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison is among those condemning the
police response to protests over the killing of George Floyd.

By Andy Mannix and Miguel Otárola

May 28, 2020
Minneapolis Star Tribune
[[link removed]]

Jeremiah Ellison was passing out water bottles to protesters near the
Minneapolis Police Third Precinct on Tuesday night when a teenage girl
emerged from the crowd, bleeding from the head, and stumbled toward
him.

Ellison, a Minneapolis City Council member, happened to be holding a
towel he’d pulled from his pocket a moment earlier. He helped her
sit down and wipe the blood from her face.

“I’m just holding this bloody towel like, ‘This is out of
control. This is completely out of control,’ ” Ellison said
Wednesday, describing the encounter.

“The police in the city failed us last night,” he said.

 

Police clashed with protesters at the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct
station after people gathered at Chicago Ave. and East 38th Street on
Tuesday to protest the death of George Floyd.
Richard Tsong-Taatarii - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Ellison was among those condemning the Minneapolis Police
Department’s response to well over a thousand people who broke
state-ordered limitations on public gatherings Tuesday night to
protest the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died
shortly after being restrained by officers from the Third Precinct.

Video of the incident shows an officer identified as Derek Chauvin
pinning Floyd on the street while Floyd pleads repeatedly that he
can’t breathe, and as bystanders ask the officers to stop.

Mayor Jacob Frey on midday Wednesday commended the “99 percent” of
peaceful protesters and empathized with their desire to protest. But
he said Chief Medaria Arradondo deployed the officers to stop
protesters after some broke windows at the precinct building and in
squad cars, both of which had live ammunition and guns inside.

“He told me that he could not run the risk of one tragedy leading to
another,” Frey said. “Our chief made the decision and I support
our chief. I trust his judgment.”

Tuesday’s protest started peacefully around 5 p.m., as mask-wearing
crowds gathered outside Cup Foods in south Minneapolis, the same spot
where the officers had detained Floyd less than 24 hours earlier.

 

"I'm sick of it!" said Laura Justin as she stood Tuesday with her sons
Andrew, 2, and Peter, 5, center, in protest near the site where George
Floyd died after a confrontation with Minneapolis police.
Elizabeth Flores - Minneapolis Star Tribune
 

Multi-racial crowd gathered at 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue in
Minneapolis on Tuesday after the death of George Floyd.
Carlos Gonzalez - Minneapolis Star Tribune
As the protest marched to the Third Precinct, several demonstrators
smashed windows and hurled objects at the precinct building. They then
vandalized squad cars parked outside.

Officers in riot gear responded with force, flooding Lake Street with
tear gas and flash-bangs and shooting fluorescent marking rounds and
other less-lethal projectiles indiscriminately into the crowd.

A similar scene played out there late Wednesday. Protesters tossed
bottles and rocks at officers, who again responded with projectiles,
tear gas and flash bombs.

Also Wednesday night, looting broke out at the Lake Street Target
store, where intruders carted off large TVs, clothing and food, and at
nearby Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits.

Late Wednesday, protesters set fire to the AutoZone across the street
from Third Precinct headquarters. While some protesters tried to put
the fire out, others gleefully posed for selfies in front of the
flames.

Calls for change

Ellison, who ran for office after participating in demonstrations
following the 2015 police shooting of Jamar Clark, said he felt
helpless to stop what he described on Twitter as Tuesday’s
“disgusting display” by police.

“The police always respond this way to crowds, and things always get
out of hand,” he said. “And I don’t know how the strategy
doesn’t change. And I’ll tell you right now I’ve made calls
requesting that the strategy change, and it still has not.”

 

Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison.
Glen Stubbe, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Ellison witnessed some protesters throwing objects at police. But he
said the police response didn’t match the protesters’ actions, and
the people he saw getting hurt were all peaceful.

“I feel like the police, and we as elected officials who manage the
police, had a responsibility to respond more compassionately and more
intelligently,” he said. “And we didn’t do that last night.”

Other council members also criticized police actions Tuesday.

Council Member Andrea Jenkins, who represents the area where Floyd was
arrested, said the protest outside Cup Foods was “one of the most
peaceful rallies I have been to.” She said she had begged Arradondo
and Frey to not have officers use force on protesters.

“I’m disappointed, I’m distressed, I’m disturbed by the use of
force last night,” she said.

Council Member Andrew Johnson, who represents much of the area covered
by protesters Tuesday, said he wanted answers as to why police
officers used chemicals and projectiles.

“What I saw from some of the scenes last night looked to be
disproportionate and escalating force,” he said. “It’s extremely
concerning, and we need answers and accountability for that.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Arradondo said that while most
protesters were peaceful, others had “disregarded the notion of
respecting … space and personal safety.”

“There was some property damage and destruction that occurred, some
that was quite significant,” he said. “I directed our folks to
keep a level of restraint so we did not respond when that occurred. I
did direct our officers to deploy gas once a secure fence was breached
and those individuals — again, not all — some of those individuals
were in our secured parking facility, which had access to our
Minneapolis squad cars and weapons, quite frankly.”

On Wednesday afternoon, V.J. Smith, the president of the Minneapolis
chapter of MAD DADS, an anti-violence program, spoke to a peaceful
crowd gathered near Cup Foods about the need to protest without
destroying surrounding businesses and homes. He said he was upset
about the damage caused by protesters Tuesday night, including broken
windows and spray paint on businesses and churches.

“You give violence, you get it back. You’re going to get it
back,” he said. “We have to understand there is a certain way to
protest.”

Staff writers Libor Jany, Liz Navratil and Paul Walsh contributed to
this report.

_[Andy Mannix covers federal courts and law enforcement for the Star
Tribune. He joined the paper in January 2016 and previously covered
Minneapolis City Hall and statewide criminal justice/Department of
Corrections._

_Miguel Otárola is a reporter covering Minneapolis City Hall for the
Star Tribune. He previously covered Minneapolis' western suburbs and
breaking news. He also writes about immigration and music on
occasion.]_

 

THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD, IN CONTEXT

By Jelani Cobb

May 28, 2020
The New Yorker
[[link removed]]

On Tuesday, in Minneapolis, hundreds of protesters, many wearing face
masks to guard against the coronavirus, gathered to protest at the
spot where Floyd died.
Photograph by Stephen Maturen / Getty  //  The New Yorker
 

Two incidents separated by twelve hours and twelve hundred miles have
taken on the appearance of the control and the variable in a grotesque
experiment about race in America. On Monday morning, in New York
City’s Central Park, a white woman named Amy Cooper called 911 and
told the dispatcher that an African-American man was threatening her.
The man she was talking about, Christian Cooper, who is no relation,
filmed the call on his phone. They were in the Ramble, a part of the
park favored by bird-watchers, including Christian Cooper, and he had
simply requested that she leash her dog—something that is required
in the area. In the video, before making the call, Ms. Cooper warns
Mr. Cooper that she is “going to tell them there’s an
African-American man threatening my life.” Her needless inclusion of
the race of the man she fears serves only to summon the ancient
impulse to protect white womanhood from the threats posed by black
men. For anyone with a long enough memory or a recent enough viewing
of the series “When They See Us
[[link removed]],” the
locale of this altercation becomes part of the story: we know what
happened to five young black and brown men who were falsely accused of
attacking a white woman in Central Park.

On Monday evening, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a forty-six-year-old
black man named George Floyd died in a way that highlighted the
implications that calls such as the one Amy Cooper placed can have;
George Floyd is who Christian Cooper might have been. (The police made
no arrests and filed no summons in Central Park. Amy Cooper has
apologized for her actions; she was also fired from her job.) Police
responding to a call from a shopkeeper, about someone trying to pass a
potentially counterfeit bill, arrested Floyd. Surveillance video shows
a compliant man being led away in handcuffs. But cellphone video later
shows a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for seven
minutes, despite protests from onlookers that his life is in jeopardy.
In an echo of the police killing of Eric Garner
[[link removed]], in 2014, Floyd repeatedly
says, “I can’t breathe,” and then, “I’m about to die.”
When the officer eventually removes his knee, Floyd’s body is limp
and unresponsive. A person nearby can be heard saying, “They just
killed him.” Floyd was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced
dead. A police statement said that Floyd appeared to be in “medical
distress,” but made no mention
[[link removed]] of
his being pinned to the ground with the weight of a police officer
compressing his airway.

The video of Floyd’s death is horrific but not surprising; terrible
but not unusual, depicting a kind of incident that is periodically
reënacted in the United States. It’s both necessary and, at this
point, pedestrian to observe that policing in this country is mediated
by race. On Tuesday, in Minneapolis, hundreds of protesters, many
wearing face masks to guard against _covid_-19, braved the pandemic
[[link removed]] to protest at the spot
where Floyd died. Outside a nearby precinct house, police cars were
pelted with rocks, and officers responded by firing tear gas. But,
within twenty-four hours of the video coming to light, the Minneapolis
Police Department fired the officer who had knelt on Floyd and three
others who had been at the scene. Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted that the
firings were “the right call,” but here, too, context matters.

In November, 2015, police responding to calls of a dispute between a
man and a woman in north Minneapolis fatally shot a
twenty-four-year-old African-American man named Jamar Clark. Police
and paramedics on the scene claimed that Clark had resisted arrest and
had attempted to grab an officer’s gun; bystanders claimed that he
was handcuffed and on the ground when the shot was fired. Clark’s
death was followed by more than two weeks of demonstrations outside
the Fourth Police Precinct in Minneapolis, led by Black Lives Matter;
an attempt to disrupt holiday shopping at the Mall of America, in
protest; and cascading contempt from black residents that, two years
later, factored into Mayor Betsy Hodges losing her reëlection bid. In
light of that history, Frey has been unequivocal about police
culpability in Floyd’s death. “Being black in America should not
be a death sentence,” he said on Tuesday.

The larger question, however, is whether the officers involved will
face any legal consequences. The Twin Cities area has been an outsized
part of the dialogue about the police use of force. The year after
Clark’s death, Philando Castile was fatally shot in Falcon Heights,
Minnesota, by a police officer who was alarmed because Castile had a
gun in his car, even though he had identified himself as a licensed
gun owner. (Castile’s girlfriend recorded the aftermath of the
shooting on her phone.) In 2017, Justine Damond was fatally shot by a
police officer who was responding to her own call about a possible
assault taking place behind her Minneapolis home. No charges were
brought against officers in Clark’s death. Jeronimo Yanez, the
officer who killed Castile, was fired from the department, but was
acquitted of second-degree-manslaughter charges. Mohamed Noor, the
officer who shot Damond, was convicted of third-degree murder and
second-degree manslaughter, and was sentenced to twelve and a half
years in prison. The Damond case was atypical, both in that it
involved the fatal shooting of a white woman by a black officer of
Somali descent, and that Damond was an Australian citizen, which
generated international pressure for a conviction in the case. No
charges were brought against Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of
Eric Garner, on Staten Island, whose arrest was also recorded on video
by a bystander, and has been widely referenced since Floyd’s death.
(He was fired from the department in 2019.) By odd
coincidence,“American Trial [[link removed]]_,”_ a
film that features a mock trial of Pantaleo for murder, was just
released.

The investigation into Floyd’s death also exists in the context of
an ongoing investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery
[[link removed]],
a twenty-five-year-old African-American who was shot in southeast
Georgia when two men attempted to enact a citizen’s arrest while a
third recorded a video of the incident. There is yet another
investigation of fatal police force in Louisville, Kentucky, where
Breonna Taylor, a twenty-six-year-old African-American E.M.T., was
shot to death in her apartment by officers who were conducting a drug
raid at what her family said was the wrong address.

There is more to be said about the burgeoning genre of videos
capturing the deaths of black Americans, and the complex combination
of revulsion and compulsion that accompanies their viewing. They are
the macabre documentary of current events, but the question remains
about whether they do more to humanize or to objectify the unwilling
figures at the center of their narratives. Death is too intimate a
phenomenon to not be distorted by a mass audience. Yesterday, very few
of us knew who George Floyd was, what he cared about, how he lived his
life. Today, we know him no better save for the grim way in which that
life met its end.
 

_[Jelani Cobb [[link removed]] is
a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of “The Substance
of Hope: Barack Obama and the Paradox of Progress
[[link removed]].”]_

 

Background - Police Problems in Minneapolis Not New

EDITORIAL COUNTERPOINT: WE MUST LOOK BEYOND POLICE FOR COMMUNITY
SAFETY

It's time to put more emphasis on prevention efforts. A police-first
approach isn't effective, has been marred by violence and fails to
address underlying causes of crime.

By Tony Williams, Leilah Abdennabi and Sheila Nezhad

March 21, 2019
Minneapolis Star Tribune
[[link removed]]

As community leaders calling for less funding for police and more
funding for alternative community safety measures, we were glad to see
the Star Tribune Editorial Board reflecting on the relationship
between police and public safety a few weeks ago (“Defunding cops is
not the answer,” March. 8
[[link removed]]).
Unfortunately, we disagree with many of the points raised.

In the spirit of robust public debate, we’d like to share more about
why we have become convinced that to ensure the long-term safety of
our communities, we must look beyond police.

The Minneapolis Police Department receives $189 million in funding
from the city each year, supplementing that funding with other revenue
sources. That’s more than our Health Department, Department of Civil
Rights, and Community Planning and Economic Development combined
($159.8 million). How are those resources being spent?

In 2018 alone, the Minneapolis Police Department came under fire for
killing Thurman Blevins and Travis Jordan. They pressured EMS
personnel to drug community members with ketamine. They set up a
series of stings to entrap poor black men for low-level marijuana
sales, in a state that nears closer to legalization each day. And they
utterly failed, as evidenced by a powerful series in the Star Tribune,
to properly investigate dozens, if not hundreds, of sexual assault
cases.

Minneapolis isn’t alone — racism, corruption and brutality are
common in police departments across the country.

So why do we keep treating the police as if they are the one true path
to community safety? It isn’t true, as the Editorial Board suggests,
that police are the most cost-effective way to keep our communities
safe. Decades of social science research has revealed that the biggest
contributor to violent crime is poverty, while a 2016 meta analysis of
hundreds of studies by Yongjei Lee, John Eck and Nicholas Corsaro
found that the relationship between police force size and crime levels
isn’t statistically significant.

As public health experts have been saying for centuries, an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. A police-first approach to public
safety fails to address the underlying causes of crime, while
contributing to our status as the most incarcerated country in the
world, and one with incredibly high levels of police violence. Why
don’t we try something different?

We applaud the recent decision by the Minneapolis City Council to
prioritize creating an Office of Violence Prevention over hiring more
staff into a scandal-ridden police department. We are confident that
innovative public health approaches will prove more productive and
cost-effective than policing in Minneapolis. They certainly have in
other cities around the country, which have embraced programs like the
“Cure Violence” model, seeing huge decreases in shootings (41
percent to 73 percent, according to studies by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins) with targeted
investments.

We, and our fellow activists around the country, aren’t seeking
“payback” for aggressive policing. We’re seeking a more
effective, fiscally responsible way to keep our communities safe; one
that intersects with our righteous outrage at police violence and mass
incarceration.

And we have to — history shows us that police departments are
incredibly resistant to reform. “Enough is Enough: 150 Years of the
Minneapolis Police Department,” a community report released in 2017,
clearly demonstrates that community members have been protesting
police violence here in Minneapolis for more than a century, and the
proposed solutions have been universally ineffective (as with body
cameras) or purposefully dismantled by police union lobbying efforts
(as with the Civilian Review Agency).

In a city where police more often feel like a threat than a trusted
ally, we deserve better ways to stay safe. That is why we, and our
counterparts in cities around the country, are calling for a
realignment of our priorities. We’ve increased police budgets every
year in recent memory. It’s long past time we stopped subsidizing
the ineffectiveness and violence of policing in America and started
investing in public safety solutions led by the real experts: those
who are most impacted.

“Fund Communities, Not Cops” is more than a powerful slogan —
it’s smart policy, and we should take it as a moral mandate.

_[Tony Williams, Leilah Abdennabi and Sheila Nezhad are equity
advocates in Minneapolis.]_

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