The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark. Marion Zimmer Bradley
“There have been decades of no progress,” said Dee Phillips, a long-time Northside resident and chair of Hawthorne Neighborhood Council. “Leadership from the top on down has been completely irresponsible. These elected officials know they don’t really have to respond directly to anyone if they choose not to. So, the question I’m pondering is how do we break down the Old Guard -- those who want to hold on to the status quo referred to as Minnesota nice, ignoring the needs for people of color and refusing to commit to principles that we say guide our sense of community and country?”
Qannani Omar is a housing organizer for Harrison Neighborhood Association (HNA) and she describes herself as an advocate for public policies rooted in community needs and centered on racial justice.
Her focus at Harrison is on anti-displacement policies; rent stabilization; tenants’ rights including the Tenant Rights Opportunity Purchase Agreement; equitable transit development; and increased investments to build community ownership models.
“Until we stand together with united voices, the resistance to the rights of African Americans and other citizens of color won’t go away. In some areas, rents increased 15% even during the pandemic. Some were forced out of their units,” Omar said in last Monday’s Conversations with Al McFarlane livestream webcast.
She said an example of this resistance came recently from the Minneapolis Charter Commission when the Commission rejected a citizen-backed proposal to put rent control on the November ballot. Omar called the Commission decision as ‘symbolic reformative action’. “It appears to be and has been for decades okay with leadership that Minnesota has been described as the worse place to live for African Americans, even topping the conservative southern states. All across the country, this is a war against Black people with no reasonable explanation for our children,” she said.
Alicia Gibson, Ward 10t city council candidate, said voters want to know “How can we resolve human conflict in more equitable ways? How do we define city engagement?” She said while city leaders are, “looking for ‘their’ answer, they seem not to want to hear what the people who put them in office have to say or be willing to offer their constituents the support and resources they need to provide their families equitable opportunities and public safety. City leadership appears to have different priorities which doesn’t include enforcing the laws. People are scared; they’re angry; and they’re frustrated. We’re on ‘a road to nowhere’ and that’s a serious forecast.”
She said a possible step forward could be what she called restorative facilitation.
Teqen Sjoberg Zea-Aida, a Ward 7 city council candidate said, “I have a vast and diverse background. I have business experience, and I have been the target numerous times of the boys in blue. I know the city and I know the people. It’s time for those truly qualified to take the lead.”
Zea-Aida said, “The city has changed over the past 20 years, but especially after the pandemic of 2020 and the heartbreak of a senseless execution witnessed by children and the rest of the world. Right now it’s on fire.”
“The council person representing Ward 7 has focused on one specific constituent group,” Aea-Aida charged. “It was like the rest of the residents were pushed to the background without a voice. Everyone has to be included.”