Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Hope And Healing Begin In Minneapolis

There is so much to process, I needed a few days to mull it all over before I went went off on a rant for the ages. People are real touchy, myself included. The world has changed since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, and we can never go back to how it was. After so much grief and upheaval, it really does seem like the future will now be brighter - no matter what your race is. It HAS to be.

The last couple of weeks have been SO heavy, yet also so incredibly beautiful. The moments of true humanity and grace will stay with me forever, and give me the encouragement to hope against all hopes that this time - THIS TIME - really will be different, and that our country's future will truly be better and equal for us ALL. It HAS to be.

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen has been a real community leader through all of the uprising after the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day. They have fed people, they have organized the donation drives ... they are honestly Nobel Prize-worthy. They are also fun. They hosted a "Summit" on Saturday at their location on Nicollet Avenue, as a day of peace and healing for everyone who has been so super maxed out stressed.

Art, Mural making, kid activities, Jamaican food, live reggae ... it was all the stuff I love on a regular day, but this time it was for the cause. It was for JUSTICE and PEACE. Because it HAS to be.

My dear friend and fellow activist, Rebecca, met me at Pimento, and we got to meet Tomme Beevas, the owner and ringleader of all of the activities happening in and around Pimento. What a cool dude, and what a good heart. The kind of heart we now all need to strive for in order to truly implement change. Because we HAVE to.

Nicollet Avenue was packed all day, with people walking the sidewalks and looking at all of the new mural art that has popped up since that day the world began to change in Minneapolis - because it HAD to. The soundtrack of the day was heavy on Bob Marley, which was totally fine with me.

A big, crazy thunderstorm moved in on Saturday night, so our outdoor revelry was cut short, but Sunday dawned very gorgeous, and very hot. There was a community meeting planned for Powderhorn Park in the afternoon, so I headed that way to see what the City Council was going to say. I hoped that there would be a call for real and systemic change, and boy, was I not disappointed! The beautiful park was full of concerned citizens of Minneapolis, all there because we need to stand together now to implement the ideas on all of the signs we've been reading at the marches the last couple of weeks.

*Speaking of marches - they are working. There has already been so many cases of people demanding accountability from the police, it's actually staggering. Minneapolis Schools and Parks have cut ties with the MPD. So has First Avenue and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. All four murderers of George Floyd have now been arrested. Believe me, NONE of this would ever have happened without the video taken of the murder. It would have just been yet another murder of a black man swept under the disgusting police department rug. But not anymore.

Keep filming everything messed up that you see, because that is really now the first line of defense. And stick up for people yourself! I'd really like to think that George Floyd would not have been dead if I had been there. I can't imagine not bum-rushing that sicko cop the minute I heard "I can't breathe!" I just can't. We HAVE to put ourselves out there to protect our fellow citizens of all colors if there is ever to be peace for everyone. Seriously. I've already had an incident at Augsburg Park in Richfield, with yet another gross, entitled white woman telling a Somalian woman she didn't belong in the park with her "Disgusting, yucky children." My heart was crushed that someone could behave like that, especially NOW. Racists are getting terrified that their time is up, and there will be more gross examples as they struggle to try to be superior - as usually their being white is about all they have going for them - at least in this case. We all simply must be better.

OK - back to Powderhorn Park. Speakers spoke, poems were read, and then the City Council President, Lisa Bender, got up there and said she was no longer a "reformist", and didn't believe that the MPD could be reformed. She and a veto-proof group of 9 council members straight up told the crowd that they were going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department! And look into how we can go forward with "Community Led Public Safety (CLAPS vs COPS?!). The crowd went wild, as it was exactly what we wanted to hear. This is obviously early stages of figuring it all out, but THAT is progress - in just two weeks.

Of course the arguments online began immediately, with an uproar (usually from suburban whites) about how in the world can there be a world without police? Well, to that I would reply, when was it last safe WITH police? Breonna Taylor was killed in her OWN HOME by police - they got the wrong house, shrug. Justine Damond (white woman) called the police to help someone else, and ended up being shot and killed by the police, in a case that I still can't believe. If you live in Venice, California - they just never come, and if they do, the person causing the trouble is usually back out on the streets the same day. I've had my own run-ins with the police as a blonde, blue-eyed woman, enough that I don't even think to call them. If I had to call 911, I would ask them to send EMTs (Heroes), never the police. And judging from all of the mass gatherings I've been involved in the last couple of weeks, the PEOPLE are way better at policing themselves. The only trouble I saw was both started and escalated by the police. Period.

The brutality we're seeing coming out of cities around the country has been sickening. Even on camera now, the police just don't care. I've seen maybe two good cop stories among the thousands of brutal ones. We will be better off without them, trust me. I know this is super controversial right now, but it's new. And it's been done before, with far better results for Camden, NJ. Also, for those arguing about defunding the police - Okaaaaaay ... but you were fine with the government defunding of schools, national parks, Medicare, food safety, the postal service, the sciences, and the arts, just to name a few? Please educate yourselves before you begin your panicked rants, because ... C'mon. You and WE can all be better - and scrapping the police department as it has been is a wonderful start. I can't wait.

After that large victory of a speech at Powderhorn, I headed back over to 38th and Chicago to see how even bigger the George Floyd Memorial has become. I mean, WOW. An entire block of Chicago is now painted with the names of the many, many people who have drawn their last breaths in the hands of police officers. Flowers had been laid on every name, and it was both beautiful and soul-crushing to see so many lives lost at the hands of those intended to protect and serve us. They have failed miserably at that basic tenet of their jobs, and are not even close to being worthy of the keepers of peace intention either. It's terribly sad what that line of work has become, and I'm really sad for the men and women that got into it to try to be "the good ones", because it's so systemic that they end up being bad too, just by being complicit and not preventing their colleagues from their dastardly deeds. The saying is "One rotten apple spoils the whole bunch" - meaning they're all spoiled by proximity, not that there are good ones exempt. (Please stop using that line of defense - you sound dumb. And why are you defending murder and brutality anyway? That would be a good self-reflection moment for many).

The street fair atmosphere continues, as so many people are coming to pay their respects and to see this place that has been plastered all over the news. The feeling of unity that lives there now between everyone there is beautiful and humbling - as the tangible feeling of solidarity is the biggest takeaway. It's now finally starting to feel like people are starting to really get that we are ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. That's always been a nice platitude, but when white people start realizing that black people being murdered by the police makes us ALL less safe - then change can really occur. And it MUST. We absolutely cannot let this feeling die among all the other deaths.

A block or so away from the Memorial is a big park field, now filled with cardboard gravestones of people who were also all murdered by the police. There are so many that it feels like a gut punch, and the people walking among the names were very quiet and reverent as they did so. The sad thing is that the artists add to it every day - because they can. They won't run out of names. And that is why we march.

A big cardboard fist had been erected in the middle of the circle of flower at the 38th and Chicago intersection. A fierce looking Black woman got up to have her picture taken, and raised her fist in the international symbol of fighting the power. I raised my fist back to her and we looked directly at each other when I took her photo. That is what it's going to take - people of other races looking out for each other - because we HAVE TO. I believe the majority of us have decided that enough has been WAY more than enough, and will now do what it takes to implement the real change this country so desperately needs. For the sad few who still don't get it and still argue online about how "All Lives Matter" (we know, we know -that's not the point right now), and how "It's just a few bad apples in the police" and care about the "rioting" (peaceful protesting) and having their commuter route messed up for an afternoon, I plead with you to educate yourselves, and learn how to be an Anti-Racist. Because when you say all of those above tone-deaf things - your innate racism and privilege really is showing, and it's not a good look.

To those who choose to remain on the sidelines and say nothing - that is a problem too. Now is EXACTLY the time to be speaking up and out, and worrying what your play group moms or whoever will think is not advancing anything - and prolonging everything. Think about the world you want to leave for those kids - and I'll bet it's not one where you have to explain to them why the nice officer murdered someone in broad daylight on t.v. as they shouted for their mother. I'm pretty sure that sucks for you too. I saw this yesterday, and share it with you now because it's so extra right on:

Pandemics are real, whether or not you know someone who is sick. 
Racism is real, even if you aren't a racist.
White privilege is real, even if you don't feel it (but you do).
Police brutality is real, even if the cop you know is kind and just. 
Your world isn't THE world Everything is not about you.

George Floyd was finally laid to rest yesterday in Houston, Texas, next to that mother he was crying out for (after a four hour funeral that also insisted that this time IS different). I think that's what has stuck with most people - because we've all been scared, and we've all cried out for our mothers - just not with a policeman's knee choking the life out of us.

And we're all witnessing what happens when we decide we're never going to allow that to happen again. As we slowly but surely get on the same page (aside from those sad, disgusting racists that you just have to hope die out soon and ignore and block in the time-being - and many are trolls/bots so keep that in mind before you self-combust with anger at the guy with something MAGA in his profile pic), the time for healing has begun. The time to maybe dare to have the audacity of HOPE, that we will one day be deserving of the name UNITED States. I'm pretty sure we can do it, and we're already seeing what happens when the People have the Power - and there will always be more of us than them. That too is hope.

So, as my favorite piece on Nicollet last Saturday said, LOVE TO ALL WHO FIGHT FOR JUSTICE! And I'd like to think that means love to ALL. The work continues ... and I will see you out there in the brighter, better future. Thank you for doing your part too. We need you. YOU.

I'll leave you with the video my brother Paul just released, using footage from my marching in Minneapolis, and friends marching in Venice. It's rad and so is he.

*I know I'm super left-leaning, and pretty radical to many of my Minnesota friends. I've lived in the Venice bubble of like minds for really long time, and it's weird to hear counter-arguments - or worse, silence - from some here that don't jive at all with my thinking. I don't apologize for my stance on these issues, because I know my heart is in the right place. I would ask anyone who disagrees with anything I have to say to first think about it, and see if you can find some common ground with me before you freak out. I bet you can. And if you can't ... you might want to go back and think some more, because I pretty much only care about justice for all - why wouldn't you? 


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