Protesters march down 35W


For a couple of hours on Thursday, Dec. 3, a revolutionary act by a hundred or more brave souls was being televised live. It was thrilling. They began at the Burger King restaurant at 34th and Nicollet with a demonstration calling attention to the need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and, then, they marched down the freeway entrance to 35W and down 35W to City Hall.
They were protesting police brutality and, in particular, the refusal of grand juries to indict police officers in the deaths of two unarmed black young men: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, NY.
They were also defying freeway traffic to show they were not afraid of being hit by cars after demonstrators were hit by a car on Tuesday, Nov. 25, in front of the Third Precinct station at Lake and Minnehaha.
Their action was revolutionary because it temporarily overthrew the existing order of traffic on 35W.  It was disruptive and it was an annoying interruption of traffic, but it was nonviolent.  It didn’t destroy property, and its aim was to educate people about the seriousness of the problem of institutional racism in government.  If anyone doubts the depths of institutional racism in Minneapolis city government, please read the accompanying article, “Unfinished Business,” which details the lack of the city’s serious response to the murder of Terrance Franklin or a response to the racist redlining of Wells Fargo in mortgage loans to minority communities.
The demonstrators were asking city government to stand at the side of poor people and people of color, rather than standing over them with a club.
Unfortunately, some of the drivers on 35W probably didn’t get the message.  Many supported the demonstration, but others might have thought it was some college kid prank that made them late for an appointment or interfered with their deliveries.  It’s very important for demonstrators to clearly attack real enemies.
When racist redlining causes mortgage foreclosures that destroy whole neighborhoods in North Minneapolis, then Wells Fargo and racist redlining is the enemy.  When the city ends up paying a billion dollars over 30 years to subsidize a football stadium where most citizens can’t afford the price of the ticket, then racketeers like Zygi Wilf are the enemy.  When the city has to pay out a million dollars a year in claims because of the actions of a few bad police officers, then racist police officers are the enemy.  We have a right to expect our elected officials to support the people of Minneapolis against these enemies, and when they don’t, when our politicians make deals with the banks and big boys downtown, when good cops refuse to testify against bad cops, then we have to understand what’s happening.  We have to criticize and call attention to the wrongdoing, and then we have to get rid of the rotten wood by using the mechanism of elections and the law.

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