My May 2, 2012 headline was about the April 21, 2012 assault by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) on the Ames Elks Lodge. What a shameful MPD disgrace. My subheading: “A 150-year-old Black Fraternal Organization was brutalized by police raid.” It has been 54 weeks since the last contact by the MPD with the persons who were assaulted and brutalized.
The MPD assaulted 11 African Americans, male and female, the youngest 50 years of age, the oldest 73: beaten, assaulted with weapons and verbally abused with racial epithets.
In a complaint I personally filed, as I was one of the victims, I detailed the events surrounding the assaults by over 60 White Minneapolis Police officers. This was definitely not one of MPD’s finest moments.
Approximately two weeks later, Ms. Lisa Miller, the Exalted Daughter Ruler, and I did a reenactment for the internal affairs officer assigned to the investigation. That was the last time that we heard anything from the Minneapolis Police Department. Seven African Americans, attempting to work within the system, also filed complaints stating the circumstances of the racially motivated April 21 assault upon them.
The lodge was attacked verbally by WCCO News. WCCO falsely maintained that guns had been fired within the lodge: untrue, without foundation.
The verbal part of the White officers’ attack included such epithets as “ni**ers,” “Black bastards,” “Black SOBs” and other derogatory terms. What has been so troubling about this on-going cover-up are the awards to those who helped to facilitate the assault.
For example, the head of Internal Affairs on April 12 was promoted to deputy chief. The lead investigator was promoted to a very cushy job in training. In fact, it appears that Internal Affairs did not even provide a case file number for my complaint.
There is more to this cover-up. Some of it is reflected in confidential correspondence dated October 8, 2008, to then-10th ward Minneapolis Council Member Ralph Remington. It is privileged correspondence, and if Mr. Remington agrees to release the contents of the letter, he and I will jointly do so.
The letter was in reference to Lt. Michael Keefe, whose lawsuit against the department is still pending in the federal courts. We have written columns on the saga surrounding the attempt to destroy Lt. Keefe because of his commitment to stand up for Black police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department.
For those who may not remember, Lt. Keefe is White. See my columns of May 30, 2012 (“Tensions within the MPD revealed in the case of Lt. Michael Keefe”) and August 29, 2007 (“A profile in courage and integrity — the saga of Lt. Michael Keefe”).
The events of the April 2012 assault and the yellow journalism of WCCO News and the Star Tribune did irreparable harm and damage to the reputation of the Ames Elks Lodge. And I cannot even begin to express the damage that was done both emotionally and physically to Ms. Miller, to her brother, to Mr. Powell, and the others who were beaten and threatened on that tragic night.
Many who read this column will have no idea that seven Black Americans filed formal complaints with the Minneapolis Police Department. Many who read this column will have no clue that for 54 weeks there has been no contact. In, fact, I doubt if a new investigator has been assigned to the case.
Seven months ago, the investigator of record was transferred out of Internal Affairs to a less stressful position within the department. As I wrote in my complaint of May 2, 2012, at least one of the female sergeants acting as a superior that night rained down upon us racial epithets and threats. She was also very much involved, along with current high-ranking officers in the administration, in destroying the African American Police Officers Association.
These same officers renewed their hostility and lies against the integrity and the professionalism of Black officers in the celebrated trial in May of last year — see my May 30, 2012 column cited above. There are clearly significant rewards in this city for the abuse of the rights of African Americans, be they Black citizens or Black police officers.
Let me take this occasion to apologize to the six members of the fraternal lodge that filed official complaints in their commitment to justice and their pursuit of justice. They stood with me in the quest for justice and the quest to clear the good name of a Black fraternal organization. No White fraternal organization would be treated in the manner as was the Ames Elks Lodge.
But it is quite clear that the racial animus and hatred of Black citizens by the MPD is the order of the day no matter who is the chief or mayor. Will this be another part of Mayor Rybak’s legacy that he passes on to his successor?
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.