[NetBehaviour] Mpls today

Max Herman maxnmherman at hotmail.com
Sun Jun 7 18:35:56 CEST 2020


Hi all,

Just a note about the status here.

Things are quieter, certainly not normal but quieter.  Curfew was lifted the past two nights and no major return of violence has been reported in the major local news media.  Many businesses in the city are boarded up, but people are painting the plywood with art -- messages of pride, power, resistance, memory, grief, hope.  My street, about three blocks from the nearest building fires, is much quieter.  My family and friends are all physically safe, many having participated in the protests, with no property damage except a stolen car that was later recovered.  A surge of Covid-19 cases is predicted due to the close proximity of people during the protests, but many protesters wore masks and were of course outdoors so all are hopeful that cases do not increase.

Horrific stories going back to the 1980's are emerging about a culture of sadism, brutality, and impunity at the precinct where the officers who killed George Floyd worked.  All four officers involved have now been charged and are in custody.  The officer who had his knee on George Floyd's neck for 8:46 is now charged with 2nd degree murder (up from 3rd) and the other three are charged with aiding and abetting 2nd degree murder.

Many reforms are being proposed for the entire police department, ranging from total disbanding to greater transparency.  Some are in force immediately and others have to wait for the legislature to meet.  Prospects for deep reform are uncertain because Minnesota, like much of the US, is profoundly divided between progressive and conservative.  Many groups such as the university here, local school system, park board, and artistic organizations are severing ties with the police department to support calls for reform.  From my vantage point the momentum for change is for now unavoidable, based on precedent from similar past events, but the further violence used by police against protestors is an indicator of the depth of the problem.

The stories I heard and was so concerned about at the start of the riots, i.e., non-peaceful actions by persons not from local communities of color, have a much more ambiguous truth factor after further investigation.  White people in camouflage, in cars/trucks with no license plates, were seen by the neighborhood watch in my neighborhood both before and after curfew and fled when approached.  I personally saw similar things.  Suspicious people and cars were seen lingering around the African-American church in my neighborhood multiple times, and fled when approached.  However the idea that such people formed a large part of the protests or rioting is being scaled back now and is under serious question.  This is a lesson to me in what kind of information I am biased toward and inclined to affirm for my own internal reasons.

The city and state will never be the same, and that is probably a good thing.  Whether the forces of progress or reaction prevail here is of course unknown; it may well be a mixture.  Estimates of the property damage are $500m, making this the second-costliest instance of civic unrest in US history according to the main local newspaper, so my sense is that measures to prevent a second occurrence will be desired by all political stakeholders if only for economic reasons.

I'm sure that the pending criminal cases, rebuilding, and reform will be major stories here and across the US for the rest of the year and I don't feel qualified to be a quasi-journalist about them all.  I just don't have the knowledge or skill.  Covid-19, climate events, economic recovery, and the fall elections will only add to the volatility of the rest of the year, so I can't offer any predictions that feel valid right now.  Over the course of my life however I have some sense that injustice in the US follows a somewhat cyclical path in balance with progress, and my hope is that the balance is moving back toward progress.  That is where I will focus my renewed and hopefully better-defined efforts.

I do want to apologize for the things I have written that have been offensive or reactionary, or have diverged from community standards.  Partly my own fear and stress played a role, but I realize now that my attitudes about peaceful means vs. non-peaceful means are strongly influenced by my privilege as a white male and this severely limits their validity.  I'm going to focus more on questioning myself and listening to others for a while, and will try to do less proclaiming of what is right and wrong.  The last two weeks have also been exhausting so I want to shift some energy to local volunteer work, allyship, and networking to rebuild and reform, as well as my other artistic and literary projects which I hope can also contribute in some way to positive changes.

Very best regards to all,

Max




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