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Est. April 5, 2002
Apr 8, 2021 - Issue 860
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Minneapolis, Minnesota ‘Street Committee’

  • Dialogues with members of the Minneapolis’s street community, along with other documentation, reveal that George Floyd and Derek Chauvin crossed paths while working security at the El Nuevo Rodeo nightclub.

  • During his work at the nightclub, Chauvin earned a reputation for being especially aggressive with patrons of color and females.

  • There were a dozen complaints, all dismissed, against Chauvin, while he served as a police officer, for using excessive force which often involved chokeholds and placing suspects on their stomachs in prone positions on the ground while handcuffed with their hands behind their backs.

  • Informants also allege that George Floyd’s affinity with White female patrons and employees at El Nuevo Rodeo annoyed Chauvin.

Questionable police killings of unarmed Black citizens and the spate of murders of other people of color in recent years are forcing a reckoning with race in America. This malaise has buffeted every presidential administration since the end of the Reconstruction period, after the abolition of slavery, in 1877, causing ebbs and flows in race relations.

Although African Americans have borne the brunt of this discord, it has encompassed every other U.S. ethnic minority group - Asian and Pacific Islanders, Latinx Americans, and Indigenous Americans - as their numbers have skyrocketed. The January 6th insurrection resulted, in part, from this demographic change as noted in a University of Chicago study on the insurrection by the Harris School of Public Policy.

The overwhelming majority of the 377 White insurrectionists charged so far for storming the nation’s Capital were males from middle- and upper-middle-class populations who lived in counties where there is a continuing decline of the White population and where people of color delivered a victory to Joe Biden while most of the Whites voted for Trump.

These political scenarios played out in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin where Trump narrowly won in 2016. These outcomes, together with Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, and that he remained the rightful President since he won by a lot, is a bigger lie. Trump contacted election officials in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and other states trying to overturn the results.

His loyal followers responded to his political call to arms by joining him at a pre-insurrection rally a short walk from the Capital where Trump incited them to rape and pillage in order to return him to the White House for a second term. Since that time, their elected representatives in 47 states have introduced hundreds of bills to restrict minority voting.

Included in these efforts are a revision of absentee ballot procedures, limiting of voting hours, expansion of Voter ID requirements and enhanced difficulty in obtaining such, the increase of poll watchers rights to contest voters’ legitimacy to take part in elections, and the institution of a requirement that only family members can assist in voting.

However, the most egregious element of this voter suppression crusade is giving state legislatures the authority to overturn county elections in their respective states. The Republican right-wing, which is declining in numbers, is steadfast in its efforts to disenfranchise American voters of color who do not share their extreme views.

To reinforce this political agenda, throughout the country, particularly in the southern states where their numbers have begun to transform the racial makeup of those elected to office, voters of color are being disproportionately charged with election fraud. In Texas, there have been 531 election fraud cases filed since 2004. Seventy-two percent of those charged have been ethnic minority voters.

A disturbing case was that of Crystal Mason, an African American ex-felon convicted of tax fraud, who thought she was qualified to vote under supervised release and arrived at the polls to vote in the 2016 presidential election, did not find her name on the rolls, and cast a provisional ballot which was never officially counted. She was then sentenced to five years in prison for this alleged crime. Mason’s case is still being adjudicated.

This and other examples from states where ethnic minority populations are surging are intimidation tactics used to send a direct message to people of color, telling them they need to be looking over their shoulders when they go to the polls given that this new legislation provides poll watchers with more chances to challenge their right to vote.

Racial progress appears to be taking a step backwards as we move forward in the 21st century. Will the U.S. be able to reconcile its new demographic reality in that no racial group will be the majority? Will the Electoral College survive in determining the results of presidential elections after these demographic changes become more widespread? Will we all be able to get along and maintain a stable democracy?

The George Floyd and related racial incidents cause us to revisit the question raised by Rodney King 29 years ago in the aftermath of his horrific, videotaped beating at the hands of Los Angeles police officers, “Can we all get along?” There are eerie similarities between these two men - their enormous size and their initial unwillingness to submit to police authority, which fed into the toxic racial stereotype police viewed through.

At each period, there was a commitment by the U.S. Presidents to lead the nation to do better on race - George H.W. Bush with the case of Rodney King and Joe Biden, elected after the George Floyd killing. (His predecessor, Donald Trump, who was in office when Floyd was killed, did not take a leadership position on the incident as he had aligned himself with the Proud Boys, a White male extremist, xenophobic group.) Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

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is published  Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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