Here's a singular and incomplete historical perspective on the events here in Minneapolis, which reflect both national trends of white supremacy and a particular, local history of the same. A thread. (1)
George Floyd's murder took place in the historic Southside neighborhood, a Black working and middle-class neighborhood on the south side of Minneapolis created by housing segregation (via racial covenants) in the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s. @MapPrejudice (2)
Today, the Southside neighborhood is multi-class and multi-racial. I live 2 miles away in an adjacent neighborhood, grocery shop in Southside, and regularly worship seven blocks from the site of George Floyd's murder. (3)
There is a long history of police violence directed toward people of color across Minneapolis, especially African Americans, African immigrants, and Native Americans. That violence, for instance, sparked the creation of the American Indian Movement in 1968. (4)
Generations of organizers and citizens have resisted the long-time racist practices of many Minneapolis Police Department officers, rooted deeply in the department’s culture and history. https://www.mpd150.com/report/past/ (5)
The “weak mayor” system in Minneapolis has made police reform difficult for politicians and oversight groups and community organizers alike. Increasing the gender and racial diversity of the force has been a central focus of that work over the years. https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2013/08/minneapolis-weak-mayor-system-does-it-really-matter-who-gets-elected/ … (6)
But a more diverse force has not changed the department’s culture. The real power in Minneapolis policing has—for decades—been rooted in the police officer’s union—the Police Officers Federation. https://www.startribune.com/critical-turning-points-lie-just-ahead-in-pursuit-of-better-policing/473649153/ … (7)
The union provides a powerful infrastructure that inflects the police force with the practices and outlooks of white power and white supremacy.
http://www.citypages.com/news/minneapolis-police-union-chief-blames-ultra-left-agenda-for-pack-robberies/560876091 … (8)
The current, long-time union president is well known for his connections to white power groups. https://www.startribune.com/controversy-follows-minneapolis-police-union-chief/361517061/ … (9)
He also played a prominent public role in hosting President Donald Trump at a Minneapolis rally in October 2019. https://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/us/jamar-clark-shooting/index.html … (10)
Despite decades of police incidents that resulted in the deaths of people of color, today’s actions by the mayor represent the first time in modern history that Minneapolis police officers were fired within 24 hours for unjustly murdering a citizen. https://www.startribune.com/four-minneapolis-police-officers-fired-after-man-dies-video-shows-officer-kneeling-on-neck/570763352/ … (11)
This is significant moment in the city's history for that alone. Hopefully, it is only the first step. The officers should face prosecution for their actions. (12)
In years past, the political clout of the Police Officers Federation circumscribed the power of the city’s mayor and even the police chief. (13)
This time, the young, not-from-here, first-term mayor is acting quickly and without any concessions to the police union. Summarily firing the officers who killed George Floyd will lead to a showdown long in the making. https://www.startribune.com/jacob-frey-wins-mayor-election-in-minneapolis/456171613/ … (14)
Today's termination of the police officers involved in the incident represents a victory for three generations of community organizers and reformers. But the work is just beginning.
Firing the officers sets up what will be a long struggle between the police union, on the one hand, and the mayor and the African American chief of police and community organizers and citizen leaders, on the other. The police union will push back, relentlessly. (15)
This struggle will define the rest of this mayor’s tenure, this so-called liberal city’s future, and provide the city a reckoning with a profoundly racist past and present. It may stretch into 2022, when the mayor faces reelection. (16)
The stakes for Minneapolis couldn’t be higher. Will justice, long-denied, finally prevail? (fin)
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