Rybak administration and Civil Rights Department blindsided
One wonders how long it took the Rybak administration to realize the powerful Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis had turned to the Republican majority in the Minnesota legislature. Unlike Black organizations that do nothing when ignored and are thus taken for granted, the Police Officers Federation, ignored by the City, went to the other party. It’s a White thing Blacks need to learn how to do, which won’t happen as long as they stay self-glued to one party.
As legislative lobbyists, special-interest advocates, and legislators themselves keep their supporters informed about legislation that will affect them, I wonder why the two Black state legislators for the City of Minneapolis didn’t give our community a heads up? It could have made a difference, and it could have resulted in the federation taking a softer position instead of setting up the demise of the Civilian Review Authority (CRA).
I don’t know what it was that caused the Korbel Group in her Department of Civil Rights (DCR) to think they could get in the middle of White folks’ business. They are now suffering pain and retaliation. The police union and the Republicans in the legislature are showing how real politics is played. Of course there are those who say that this is what Mayor R.T. Rybak has wanted all along, as I suggested in this column a couple of years ago: End the MDCR and the CRA.
What the police federation did was brilliant. It makes sense. As police union President John Delmonico put it in a February 23, 2012 Star Tribune article ”We have worked with the city to do two or three revamps of the Civilian Review Authority. It has fallen on deaf ears” (“Bills would rein in police review board”). When the Rybak administration would not listen, the federation reached out to the Republican majority to seek legislation that will make the Civilian Review Authority disappear, as they believed the DCR and CRA were being dishonest and indifferent.
Consequently, according to sources inside the federation, it was necessary to bang the drum, meaning take it to a higher level, and if that meant going to the legislature to get support for eliminating the incompetence, arrogance and indifference of the CRA, then so be it.
Understandably, when the federation experienced incompetence and dishonesty in the DCR and its CRA, combined with the administration’s refusal to act, the police federation acted instead. The Republicans have solicited enough support from Democrats that they will be able to override any governor’s veto. Now that is effective politics.
This is what happens when Blacks get involved in the middle of White folks business. Blacks must never forget that for any minority group, there is always a double standard. Minorities cannot be as incompetent and dishonest as the majority (in this case, Whites) and still expect to get ahead.
This is a disaster for the African American community and other racial groups who fought long and tirelessly for civil rights in 1965 and for the CRA in 1990. As one who was there for both, as one who fought battles then and now, I cannot begin to say to you how disappointing it is to see this level of incompetency at the DCR that has resulted in these steps to eliminate the CRA.
Once the police federation began to tell Republican legislators the horrifying stories of incompetency and dishonesty within the Civil Rights Department and the Civilian Review Authority, it was all the Republicans needed to hear (the DFL also knew but would do nothing). Obviously, members of the mayor’s own political party agree the Civilian Review Authority and the Civil Rights Department should pass into American history.
So what’s it all about? Simply this: Who will meet the responsibility of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to administer and investigate cases? Who will meet the responsibility of the Civil Rights Commission to handle the judicial aspects of cases? And who will meet the responsibility of the Civil Review Authority to handle hearing on cases about findings regarding complaints about the police?
In the struggle for equality, the poorest legacy is having failed due to being incompetent and dishonest. That will be the legacy of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, Civil Rights Commission, and Civilian Review Authority. They marked time waiting for their pensions. They failed their mission, they failed their people, they took their eyes off the prize — the dream. And now they will lose their jobs.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm; hosts “Black Focus” on Blog Talk radio Sundays at 3 pm; and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “ON POINT!” Thursdays a 7 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his solution papers for community planning and development and “web log” at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com.