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Time to back up talk of Building One Minnesota policy

Minnesota, now is the time to back up the talk of your Building One Minnesota policy. I am addressing this to the top executive in the state, to the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul and their top law enforcement officers:

I have heard each of you speak to the grief and rage in the community, you have acknowledged the criminal actions of law enforcement, and you have asked for the community — the people of Minnesota, the same people you campaigned to for promises of a “One Minnesota” — to stop the protests for injustice. However, what I have not heard is your call to neighborhood leadership, leaders of faith, community organizers, now in the daylight while things are calmer, to assist you in responding the destruction of our communities, our businesses, and our streets. Ask the communities what they need you to do to allow them the space they need to grieve, voice their outrage in a safe an orderly way. Instead of designing “battle plans” to line up against people in the community, find a plan that allows you to stand beside the community to protect life, property and restore order with them, instead of for them. If you truly believe in the idea that community policing is the best thing, now is your chance to engage.

To the communities that have been hit by the tolls of these riots: this is going to require all that resiliency you have built up over the years. It is going to call for a leap of faith, that if properly extended, we can trust to work with the government to protect everything we hold dear. I would ask you to be brave and take that chance. If these officials are not reaching out to you, reach out to them. No one in the community likes to see it burn even if we can all understand the rage behind it; however, we need to work with law enforcement to protect what we love, identify those who destroy, and bring to justice the people that take advantage of George Floyd’s death to sow the seeds of discontent.

The efforts of the Native American community can help illuminate the way. They have been able to work with government officials to make an arrangement that allowed for the community to police and defend the places they hold dear, such as the Franklin Cultural Corridor and Little Earth.

To Gov. Tim Walz, Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter: you have the ability to work with the communities to help them create a safe environment on their standards. Now do this for other communities that are still potentially in harm’s way.

The final straw was the public lynching of George Floyd. The officer’s causual indifference to Mr. Floyd’s life, the assisting officers’ failure to help Mr. Floyd after his calls of distress “I CAN’T BREATHE,” and the public display of the failure for the system to protect and serve our communities has left us outraged, sad, and in shock. I want justice for George Floyd. I want equity and justice for all people.

The people deserve better. We cannot change what happened to George Floyd and countless others who have needlessly suffered and died at the hands of law enforcement for no other reason than the color of their skin.

Instead we need find productive avenues for change. We need to keep the rest of the innocent people in the neighborhoods safe!

We need our elected and community leaders to draw that line. Act swiftly, but safely. Organize for the communities that look up to you. If you have agreed to take a position for the people, ACT FOR THE PEOPLE.

I Pray for the safety of the innocent people.

I pray for justice for George Floyd.

I Pray you do too.

— Robert Larsen, Community Council President

As a sovereign Indigenous nation, we support your efforts to educate those who must face the ugly truths of their inequitable treatment of the afflicted, the suppressed, the unheard. No more. Change must come. And it must come now. We hope and pray that our Community’s vision be realized outside our borders — that each community be a healthy, safe and happy one. We join your voice calling for change to end injustice to blatant and systemic racism that plague our state and our country.

“We stand in solidarity with your relatives to fight against racism and discrimination,” said Grace Goldtooth, Community Council Vice President. “This sense of hopelessness and frustration that Black people in the country have been experiencing has been brewing for a long time, just as it has for our Indigenous relatives too. We will continue to work on dismantling the system and re-imagine our people of color in a way that is equitable.î

— Robert Larsen is the community council president of the Lower Sioux Community

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