Rybak needs to show leadership

The Minneapolis Police Department has nothing to blame for the immediate over-reaction by many to the accidental shooting of an 11-year-old boy on August 22 but its own history of hostility against African Americans. The Minneapolis Police Department has nothing to blame for the immediate over-reaction by many to the accidental shooting of an 11-year-old boy on August 22 but its own history of hostility against African Americans.

Not that police went to 26th and Knox in North Minneapolis planning to gun down a child. Officers were serving a high-risk warrant at an address which has long been a problem spot and quite imaginably has caused community residents no small degree of concern: since August of last year –no less than 13 reports either from or involving the location have summoned police to deal with drug-dealing, a shooting and other complaints. Further more, this was not the first high-risk warrant issued for the premises. It’s not that the cop who fired, killing a pit bull and, with a ricocheted bullet, wounding the boy, did so recklessly. The person holding the dog was warned not to let it off the leash, but went right ahead and let the animal loose: show me anyone holding a gun who wouldn’t shoot an attacking pit bull and I’ll show you a damned fool.

When all hell broke loose bottles were thrown at cops; it may have, in fact, been started by area wrong-doers angry at the obstruction of their illicit goings-on. At any rate, it clearly took no time at for all citizens to reinforce the confrontation, especially after word of mouth spread through the crowd, falsely claiming a cop deliberately shot the unarmed 11-year old. Had this been a raid on some drug-stronghold in Edina, bottle-throwers probably would’ve been overwhelmed. And few on-hand would’ve given the least bit of credence to the assertion that a White child had purposely been shot. This is because Twin Cities police do not have a reported history of maniacal behavior on the clean streets and manicured lawns of suburbia. The cops caught hell in North Minneapolis because Minneapolis police are widely notorious, well known to patrol urban neighborhoods of color with all the rabid, club-and-gun-wielding storm-troopers.

A woman commented to television news reporters in reasoned tones, “It’s open season on African Americans.” While, on the face of things, she seemed to be speaking out of context, the fact is she hit the nail on the head. Black people relegated to Minneapolis’ underclass are sick and tired of being indiscriminately abused and assaulted, not to mention finding themselves facing the business end of a gun for no good reason. Just ask another woman who exited a Red Lobster and, just because the manager didn’t realize she’d paid for her meal, stood in the parking lot wondering whether she was about to breathe her last: police surrounded her, pointing their weapons over nothing more significant than a potential charge of petty theft.

The tragic incident at 26th and Knox escalated to insensate mayhem because some people in those parts have more than enough reason to despise the very sight of a police uniform.

Consider that it took this for Mayor R. T. Rybak to clear his plate and try to look like he gives a red damn about what’s going on with African Americans in Minneapolis. He is as much to blame as the Minneapolis Police Department for officers getting a raw deal while they were, from all available evidence, just trying to do a hard job, attempting to uproot and eliminate the cancer of drug traffic which thrives at and around the site to which they were responsibly ordered. Had Rybak merely responded to the issue of racial profiling with more than mealy-mouthed rhetoric and moved to hold cops accountable, the social climate would by now at least be on its way to some semblance of equitable law enforcement. The “riot” might well have still happened, right along with the senseless beating of reporters and trashing and burning of news trucks — unleashed rage does not pick and choose its targets. But, there would be proof that Rybak and the Min

September 2, 2002
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