From Daybreak #3
The Jordan neighborhood on the North Side of Minneapolis exploded in rage on the night of Thursday August 22nd when Minneapolis Police shot an 11-year-old boy during an alleged drug raid. According to bystanders, the police rolled up to the house with weapons drawn and immediately opened fire with MP5 submachine guns (supposedly) at a dog that was being held by a leash near where the boy was standing.
“He [Julius] is a little kid, he was shocked,” Toney Powell said. “Then the dog just stood there barking and the cop just came up from the ground with the gun shooting, ‘bap-bap-bap-bap-bap!’ Then [Julius] fell and hit the ground shaking.”
The police began gathering at the scene of their crime but were confronted by hundreds of angry residents who taunted and attacked them with bottles and debris, forcing them to retreat outside the neighborhood. The crowd then began an assault on the abandoned corporate media, beating them and throwing rocks and bottles at reporters and their vehicles. At least five vehicles were damaged, including a torched news van, and 10 people were injured. The riots continued throughout the early morning. Four people were arrested.
The shooting came in the wake of 3 other high-profile police murders of black people during the month (as well as a number of other police killings in St Paul, most notably of 3 mentally handicapped people in the space of 3 weeks) and the constant harassment of residents by police, including beatings, threats, and ridiculous arrests. Jordan resident Marguerite Cannon complained that lesser examples of police misconduct in the Jordan neighborhood are commonplace. She said a teenage neighbor out past curfew ran from police, who chased him and gave him a black eye. It recalls similar situation to that of a 17-year-old Somali man who was shot in the back by police earlier this summer. Alice Lynch, executive director of the Black, Indian, Hispanic and Asian Women in Action group, said racial profiling and random stops of black residents by white cops has eroded the frail level of trust between some community members and police. “Many of them [the police] have military training and act with a mentality of being in a war,” she said.
In the aftermath of the riot many different groups with different interests sprouted up, from surreal speeches by rich politicians to landlord groups making statements about the necessity of police tactics. Later in the week it was revealed that Police Chief Olson struck a deal with professional community activist Spike Moss to give him about 20 temporary police badges and pay about 6,000 dollars to his ‘community’ policing groups who roamed North the rest of the weekend, supplementing the MPD presence that smothered the entire city.
Although the ‘raid’ was supposedly made for drugs related complaints, police found only six bags of marijuana worth about $10 each on one man. The complaints against the house were made by a loose group of primarily white homeowners calling themselves the Jordan Livability Committee. Tim Dolan, head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct, pointed out that “people in the suburbs don’t realize the reality is we have two communities of people up here, One that works, owns property and raises families, and a community of people that is selling drugs and committing crimes and would like to see the police leave the neighborhood.” There’s no doubt that what Dolan means is that there are rich homeowners and landlords and there are poor people, who are criminals because it’s criminal to be poor. The police are, as usual, not only vicious and irresponsible, but accessories to the war of the rich on the poor, enforcing the landlords and yuppies ‘street-cleaning’ by harassing and assaulting poor people, especially poor black male people.
Steve Wash, a south Minneapolis housing advocate was quoted in the Star Tribune as saying “To all those who say: ‘Let’s get these homegrown drug dealers off the street,’ I’m saying let’s look at what’s creating all these dope dealers. It’s the only viable economic opportunity for many of these young men. People don’t want to hear that, but the true problem is a solvable economic one. […] When a defeated community gets so angry it boils over, a team is brought in to quiet them down but not advocate for better conditions. We hear that it’s a time for peace and it might sound crazy, but why should all these poor people remain quiet and keep going along with a system that marginalizes them?”
Weeks have passed since the night of rioting but the only response of authorities has been to increase the police presence. Communities United Against Police Brutality are trying to bring in a Federal Mediator to help bring the conflict to resolution, but local politicians and the police chief are attempting to crush any possibility at creating a community oversight over police. As the fuse continues to burn low in the neighborhoods there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the police will kill again. That’s what they do: The enforcers of the rich against people without power of all colors.