Celebrate, thank community leadership

For the past 10 days or so, there has been a great deal of media focus on the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis. For the past 10 days or so, there has been a great deal of media focus on the Jordan neighborhood in North Minneapolis. On August 22, while in the process of executing a search warrant for drugs at a house near 26th and Knox, Minneapolis police officers shot a dog released from its leash by a resident of the house. A police bullet ricocheted off the sidewalk and struck an 11-year-old boy standing outside the house. The incident caused an angry crowd to gather that resulted in the destruction of property and injury to several people. Racial tension in the area was reaching the breaking point.

A series of leadership meetings, community meetings, street patrols, and prayer vigils occurred over the following weekend. While the situation was very tense, the violence did not escalate. In the second week after the drug raid, racial volatility in North Minneapolis remains a fact that must be dealt with in the long-term.
There are three points that we mustn’t lose sight of in the discussion, planning, and negotiation that will take place in the coming weeks. First, firing a gun with kids around is wrong. The police should not have fired when children were so close by. Other options would have been throw a net over the dog, kick the dog away or beat it with a nightstick, even hit him upside the head with the gun instead of firing.
Second, selling and using drugs is wrong any way you cut it. You can make tons of excuses as to why it happens. You can twist the facts. When all is said and done, you’re left with the fact that selling and using drugs in our community is wrong.
Third, we cannot reduce racial tension without turning our attention to economics. People need jobs and they need them now. People need the kind of job that allows them to live decently. They need the kind of job that makes it possible to afford a place to live, have nice clothes, have a car that runs and partake in the American Dream that we have all been sold. Too many are left out of that dream. As long as we have people on the outside, existing without hope, we will have the potential for violence.
In closing, I just want to say, “Hats Off”, to a lot of brothers and sisters who put their own safety at risk to promote peace and calm. Many of these people will never be seen on TV or mentioned in the paper. But they were there. I know they were out there because I was out there with them. To Brother Tyrone Terrill and the Men of March, Brother V. J. Smith and the MAD DADS, sisters and brothers from New Salem Baptist Church and others: You were there. And I want to acknowledge that.

September 2, 2002
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