With multiple examples of extreme police force used in encounters nationwide, highlighted by advanced community connectivity through technology, the vast communication generated by these events provides a watershed platform for discussion, and thus solutions.
Minneapolis Urban League President Scott Gray delivered a well-balanced response in his Insight News exclusive interview, concerning the view from inside this national struggle.
Repeating a quote from Gray in Part I of this series is key in noting his overall vision of solution – “There needs to be this new generation, where there truly is equality and justice for all. That is the goal; to get to that place.”
Gray especially acknowledged the opportunity available in Minnesota to work towards that solution.
“African-Americans should be embraced as a people in every city and every state, not in spotty pockets,” said Gray. “And part of that frustration is in our own community. We should be appalled as Americans at the many cases of excessive force. In this town there is so much possibility. So the question is, are we going to engage up front in this world class city?”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do. Racial equity has to involve more talk outside of the norm. There are enough resources in this town to accelerate (efforts), but people have to stop worrying about having to give something up,” Gray said.
Speaking at length about past and present examples of engagement and training between the police and various levels of community leadership, Gray said, “We have to change the culture. We have to build a bridge to all communities. We have to love all communities like we love our own, and do things people can see. But it has to be intentional and authentic, and built on trust … we’re not going to fall for anything.”
Noting the feelings within the community Gray said, “We have ownership in this community as well. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We’re a very patient community, but I don’t want to be a 70-year-old man, still scared of the police or seen as intimidating. Nobody should be disrespected. And the sensitivity to our needs always comes late. Whether 68 or 16, we’re all human.”
Harkening back to his days growing up in Milwaukee, Gray suggested the practice of community policing to cut down on community mistrust.
“Somehow we’ve gotten away from that. I had all these eyes watching over me to stop situations like Ferguson, Mo.,” recalled Gray. “We need everybody to have a hand in that.”
With regard to the specific local police brutality claim involving community organizer Al Flowers, Gray laid out a specific set of concerns to begin an overall agenda moving forward.
“I hope the incident is investigated to the fullest,” said Gray. “I want to know what happened. I want to know about the policies and procedures, to understand what was appropriate. And I hope it brings about new ideas to build trust.”