Oprah was right

Terrance FrankinBY ED FELIEN

In a video interview for People magazine’s website, Oprah Winfrey said, “I think it’s wonderful to march and to protest, and it’s wonderful to see all across the country people doing it, but what I’m looking for is some kind of leadership to come out of this to say, ‘This is what we want. This is what has to change, and these are the steps that we need to take to make these changes, and this is what we’re willing to do to get it.’ ”
Oprah is saying we need to move beyond protest.  It’s not enough for young people to risk arrest and do brave things to call attention to a problem, they also need to roll up their sleeves and get determined to stay with that problem until it’s fixed.
It was brave and courageous to protest in front of the 3rd Precinct Station and face down motorists intent on inflicting bodily harm.  It was brave and courageous to march up 35W to City Hall, and it was brave and courageous to defy arrest at the Mall of America to tell the world that Black Lives Matter.
Now, let’s do something about it.  Now, let’s translate protest into policy.
We know from the Terrance Franklin incident last year that unarmed young black men are murdered by the Minneapolis police.  How can we make white suburban cops more sensitive to the cultural diversity of Minneapolis, so they won’t escalate a routine police call into a homicide?  Maybe one small way would be to require police to actually live in the communities they are pledged to protect and to serve.
The City of Minneapolis passed a residency requirement for city employees almost 20 years ago, but the legislature overruled the city ordinance, probably with the city government’s compliance.  It’s time to demand that our city government go to the legislature and get that statute repealed.  Here’s a letter Southside Pride wrote to Council Member Elizabeth Glidden with copies to other members of her Committee:
Attention Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, chair of Intergovernmental Relations Committee:
Will your Committee be considering legislation for the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session to repeal Section 415.16 EMPLOYMENT; CITY OR COUNTY RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT
“Subdivision 1. Notwithstanding any contrary provision of other law, home rule charter, ordinance or resolution, no statutory or home rule charter city or county shall require that a person be a resident of the city or county as a condition of employment by the city or county except for positions which by their duties require the employee to live on the premises of the person’s place of employment.”?
As I am sure you are aware, this section was authored by Rich Stanek while he was a Minneapolis police officer and a member of the State Legislature to overrule residency requirements enacted by the  City of Minneapolis.  Residency requirements for the Minneapolis police would be one small step toward making officers more sensitive to the communities they serve.
Ed Felien, Editor/Publisher Southside Pride
cc: Alondra Cano (vice-chair); Jacob Frey; Barbara Johnson; John Quincy; Andrew Johnson
The Minnesota Supreme Court in 1980 upheld an earlier ruling in 1966 that the City of Minneapolis could force Officer Berg to live in the city if the city had a good reason for the residency requirement:
The Minnesota Supreme Court, in Guttu v. City of East Grand Forks, 294 N.W.2d 735 (1980), the court ruled: “In Berg v. City of Minneapolis, 274 Minn. 277, 143 N.W.2d 200 (1966), we upheld a similar residency requirement against challenges based on the equal protection and due process guarantees of both the state and federal constitutions. We held that such requirements had a rational relationship to achieving the legitimate state interests of (1) enhancing community safety because resident employees are in a position to respond more quickly to emergency calls, (2) improving employee performance since the employee has a stake in the community, and (3) enhancing the tax base and local economy by recirculating the salary he earns through the taxes he pays and by the likelihood of his spending his income within the city.”
If the community would feel safer having a police officer for a neighbor, that’s a good reason.  If the community felt that a cop from the neighborhood would understand the neighborhood better than someone from the suburbs, that’s a good reason.  If by buying a home in a neighborhood the officer would improve the tax base, that’s a good reason.
Those are all good reasons why the City of Minneapolis, with the blessing of the Minnesota Supreme Court, should require residency for all city employees.

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