Saturday Night Owls: Native community has some ideas about what should replace Minneapolis police

Saturday Night Owls: Native community has some ideas about what should replace Minneapolis police

Night Owls, a themed open thread, appears at Daily Kos seven days a week

Delilah Friedler at Mother Jones writes—What Will Replace the Minneapolis Police? The City’s Native American Community Has Some Ideas(Full disclosure: I was a member of AIM for 16 years—MB.)

Late one night at the end of May, as spray paint, fires, and looting reigned across Minneapolis, an Indigenous hip-hop artist named Tall Paul was roving the streets in a truck, looking for looters and arsonists. “It looked like that movie The Purge,” he says. “It was lawless.” Days before, Paul had joined the American Indian Movement Patrol, a group of Native Americans volunteering to maintain neighborhood safety and protect key buildings from destruction amid the rebellion.

Paul and the other volunteers on shift were on their way to check on the offices of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe when they saw four white teenagers looting a nearby liquor store. They stopped their truck and three of the teens fled, while Paul’s group caught up with the fourth. Soon his buddies returned, and all were made to lie on the ground so they couldn’t run away, then give their names and wait for a parent to come pick them up. The teens had driven 90 miles from suburban Wisconsin to take advantage of the chaos.

With a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members pledging to disband their police force, many wonder, “What comes next?” Activists from communities of color say the answer has been lurking under the city’s nose all along: neighborhood-based initiatives that protect property and prevent violence. In Minneapolis, those groups—AIM Patrol, as well as First Nations United, the Little Earth Patrol, and the NAACP’s Minnesota Freedom Riders, among others—are not new, but today they share a common vision: Without police, communities can maintain their own safety with less brutality and more accountability.[…]

Native groups have a special place in the history of organizing, and of fighting police brutality, in Minneapolis. With about 150,000 Native Americans in its greater metro area, the city has been a major urban hub for Indigenous people since the federal government began moving them off reservations in the 1950s. In 1968, fed up with unlawful arrests, police violence, and poverty, a group of Natives in Minneapolis launched the American Indian Movement, an organization dedicated to addressing chronic neglect and abuse. AIM became a national civil rights group, unifying tribes across the country and successfully challenging a federal “termination” policy that aimed to end the special status of Indigenous peoples by withdrawing federal services and aid.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2010—Helen Thomas and the veneer of civilization:

There is great sadness at the end of Helen Thomas’s long and valuable career. Her nasty comments allowed her critics their final moment of triumph. As if all the good she had done, speaking truth to power, attempting to hold presidents accountable when so many of her supposed peers were resorting to mere sniveling sycophancy, was for naught. Every good she had attempted could be dismissed. She had revealed a latent bigotry. It was that for which she would be remembered.

There is no excusing Thomas’s comments. They were hateful, insensitive, and historically obtuse. That she had never before publicly revealed that side of herself is irrelevant. That she is very elderly and may have been emotionally exhausted matters not a whit. Those comments made her immediate retirement necessary. There was no going back. The entire episode called to mind the forced retirement of baseball executive Al Campanis a couple decades earlier.

Campanis also was toward the end of a long, distinguished career. Campanis also will be remembered less for all the good he did than for the way his career ended. Campanis had played baseball with Jackie Robinson. In the many years after his playing career, he had worked for the organization that had integrated baseball, and he had helped nurture the careers of many young black players. But on live television, one night, he made what were indisputably vile, racist comments. He had never before revealed such bigotry. He was elderly, and on that night he appeared to be a bit worse for alcohol. Friends and colleagues, many of them black, defended his honor and integrity. But his words could not be ignored. The meaning of his words could not be ignored.

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