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We have been here before

main.jpgNote: I am a white, female, middle class millennial. I must not be (and most certainly am not) the only person raising my voice in response to violence at home and around the world. In many ways, this isn’t my story to tell – I hope you turn to others like Mica Grimm, Nekima Levy-Pounds, Al Flowers, Jeremiah Bey, Ashley Fairbanks, Adja Gildersleve, Lena Gardner, or the many other outspoken activists who live this every day. But I am responsible for writing this week’s YNPN-TC blog, and my conscience and heart demanded I use the platform to speak on this violence. I am raising my voice, even with all its imperfections and limitations, as an ally and a witness. You can also read YNPN-TC’s statement on recent events here.

It has been a hard week. A heart-breaking week. An excruciating week. We’ve watched acute violence and grief – in LebanonNigeriaFrance,SyriaIsrael/PalestineIraqMali. Then, we saw the violence and grief come home to Minneapolis.

On Sunday, November 15, Jamar Clark was shot and killed by police officers in North Minneapolis. In the days following Jamar Clark’s death – ruled a homicide by the medical examiner – protesters have demanded truth, transparency, and justice.

We have been here before.

Jamar Clark may be the latest victim of a police shooting, but he certainly isn’t the first. In fact, last year, Lindsay Bacher wrote “Ferguson and the Single Issue Struggle” for this blog. In the following section – quoted with her permission – I have kept her words but replaced links with images and news from this week.

On Twitter…I watched the livestream of protesters being tear gassed…, literally with my hand over my mouth in shock. There were the pictures of protesters doused in milk to ease the tear gas and the waves of police officers in riot gear…. Countless images of young black men with their hands in the air: hands up, don’t shoot.

We have also seen Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds on her knees, city council members standing between loaded weapons and protestors, and five protestors shot.

We have been here before.

The police brutality and inequity in the justice system that are being called out right now are just two aspects of the structural racism that causes deep inequities in our state (and country). As Rinal Ray pointed out in last week’s blog, “Minnesota is great at everything, including disparities.” Historically, a particularly catastrophic example of this was the purposeful destruction of Rondo, a very vibrant African American community in St. Paul, during the construction of I94. Today, people of color still have to daily face and fight inequity in education, healthcare access, housing, food access, and employment – really, all facets of life. #Justice4Jamar grew from this specific moment in time, but this moment is certainly no anomaly.

We have been here before.

I have been writing this post since Wednesday, November 18, updating as this moment of outcry develops. It is now Tuesday, November 24, and I woke up this morning to find out that five protestors were shot last night. I haven’t processed this yet, and the only words I have are of disgust and outrage. If you click on only one link in this article, let it be this one about the shooting protestors. Steven Thrasher, author of the linked article, is far more articulate and shows clearly how this is not an isolated event.

We have been here before.

At this exact moment, there are concrete steps that we can take forward. Black Lives Matter has listed their demands – and has asked individuals and groups to contact Mayor HodgesChief Harteau, and other politicians (go here to find out who represents you) to support those demands. We can stand in solidarity – physically at the 4th Precinct and vocally within our network of family, friends, and colleagues. We can listen to our community members who are most acutely impacted by the manifestations of racism.

This moment may be important – life and death important – but the protest will not last forever. These cases will come to a close. After this moment passes, how do we make choices in our work, community, and personal lives to support changing the systemic problems that caused this tragedy? The hard work we do towards equity tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after will be what eventually keeps us from being in a moment like this again.

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