Posted: 12/24/15 12:19
by Dave Mindeman
Like it or not, the Black Lives Matter protest yesterday, garnered a lot of attention. The Mall of America reacted (overreacted in my opinion) with a heavy police presence and even closed down some stores for about an hour.
Other reactions were wide ranging. Gov. Dayton condemned the action to shut down traffic at the airport. The courts put together a compromise ruling that allowed the Mall of America to prohibit BLM's leadership from coming to the Mall, but refused to block the protest entirely. The Star Tribune chose to focus on customers complaining about stores being shut down. The Pioneer Press highlighted the airport complaints on disruptions. MPR's website led with a comprehensive story about the protest. The cable news networks covered the story as well.
It got a lot of attention.
In the history of civil rights and race relations, it seems obvious to note that disruptions and peaceful disobedience have always gotten more attention than the rhetorical shouts and cries of the affected. This is no different.
With all due respect to the Governor (and I understand he has to do his job), the demonstrations of Black Lives Matter and other groups are working and getting people to pay attention to these situations.
Take a look at the list of each state's top google search for 2015. Minnesota's is "Black Lives Matter". In contrast, our counterparts over in Wisconsin were trying to figure out, "What does bae mean?".
BLM is making progress.
How many of you actually think that without these protests and confrontations, that Governor Dayton would have considered dealing with racial inequality in a special session? I doubt that it would have happened. Even the critics who think this is overreach and unnecessary have begun to turn the conversation toward the protesters.
I get uncomfortable with the direct confrontations that are occurring. Blocking traffic and disrupting the airport has its risks, for both the protesters and the people affected. But nothing else seems to make the powers that be move on the issue.
Jamar Clark is dead - but without the attention that the protesters have demanded, he would be just another number in a sea of statistics. Unarmed black men are dying much too often. And what is even worse, the investigations of these incidents are swept under the rug or tossed aside.
It doesn't matter that Jamar Clark may have had a police record. What matters is that information is being stonewalled and questions are going unanswered.
The police department and the prosecutor's office need to listen to these voices and to act on their concerns. It would also be a good thing if our legislature really did find ways to deal with our state's equality gap. It is an embarrassment to a progressive state and the idea that protesters have to disrupt commerce to get the attention they deserve is also an embarrassment.
Yes, the rule of law is important. But when that rule of law ignores justice, it needs to wake up. If BLM has to grease the wheels of justice in a very public way, then so be it.
Minnesota prides itself on "Minnesota nice", but nice doesn't cut it when individual lives are cut off from opportunity and justice.
Minnesota is better than this - listen to the people.