Minneapolis, MN

Posted: November 6, 2011 by o22ndp in Area reports 2011

In a rally and march called by Communities United Against Police Brutality, a good mix of youth from Occupy MN, the University of Minnesota and the community marched with seasoned activists and police brutality survivors to the Minneapolis Police Department’s first precinct. The first precinct, in downtown Minneapolis, generates the largest number of complaints of police brutality in the city. They engage in racial profiling and attacks on homeless people going to shelters. They regularly attack Black people leaving the clubs, as a way to discourage people of color from coming downtown. They are responsible for the recent arrests of Occupy MN participants protesting foreclosures at the Bank of America. We received much support and cheers from people along the march, with people thanking us and some joining in.

At the first precinct, the crowd was reminded of the horror that can be inflicted on families by police when a 30 foot scroll containing 161 names of Stolen Lives was rolled down the sidewalk in front of the police station. The Stolen Lives listed were people killed by law enforcement in the state of Minnesota largely in the last 10 years. This year was especially tragic, with 19 names added to the list. A book with stories and pictures of the Stolen Lives was handed out to participants.

Speakers at the first precinct made connections between parts of the criminal justice system, noting the hunger-striking prisoners in California and around the country. Noting that a segment of the 99% sit in prisons, one speaker told about noise protests that have been held outside the local jail in sonic solidarity with the people in the jail. Others talked about the raids one year ago on anti-war and international solidarity activists, attacks on GLBT people, and on the very recent conviction of two Somali women on charges of “material support of terrorism” for raising a few thousand dollars and clothes for charities in Somalia. Both women face over 150 years in prison.

From the first precinct, the group marched to the homeless shelter where police are notorious for their attacks. Many in the crowd were surprised at the “no loitering” signs posted on public sidewalks around the shelter–yet another way to criminalize homelessness. At the shelter, people were given a lesson on copwatching and got some practice when staff members who work hand in glove with police came out of the shelter to harass the group.

We spent the rest of the evening copwatching in downtown Minneapolis. People at the event came away with a renewed spirit for taking on police brutality, with a number stating they will be coming to CUAPB meetings, copwatching and getting involved. From that perspective, we consider this year’s October 22 event to be a real success.

–Submitted by Michelle G., Communities United Against Police Brutality.

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