By Charles Hallman
If only for a few hours, the city’s North Side and Minneapolis police recently worked together and had fun doing so.
At least on that day, August 17, police officers walked among the mostly Black crowd and peacefully coexisted. Minneapolis police, along with Minneapolis firefighters and the Park Board members, held the “Battle of the Badges — The People’s BBQ,” a free food and entertainment event at North Commons Park. One officer later told the MSR that they ran out of food, but it appeared that everyone had fun.
In light of recent tensions between the Black community and police, “I thought it was a great idea,” said KMOJ Morning Personality Shedrick Garrett, better known as Shed G. The station was among several local businesses and organizations that helped sponsor the four-hour outdoor event.
“It was a tremendous amount of people. I just loved the fact that [the police] put on the effort to have it in the community where they patrol, to try to bridge that gap,” said Garrett, who emceed the various activities, including musical performances from the Sounds of Blackness, Paris Bennett and others. There was also a best BBQ contest between the police and fire departments, judged by community folk. “It was a great thing… We had a good time.
“When good things happen in the community, a lot of people don’t really give praise to it, but let something negative happen and it’s a big uproar on the situation,” Garrett continued. “And I just think that our community leaders and our police [officers] just need to come together so that they can bridge that gap. There’s some ways you can get awareness done on a positive note so that it won’t be a push factor.”
The station’s weekday morning show also was among the sponsors of a bike giveaway to local kids who earlier participated in an essay contest, added the co-host.
“The kids had to write essays and tell me about their school year last year,” explained former MPD officer Lisa Clemons of the 21 donated bikes given out that day. “I want to do [it] again next year, [but] I want to do it bigger.”
The one-day North Commons event could be the start of similar community events regularly scheduled in the near future, said Garrett. “I really think that maybe [there could be] something once a month where people can come together, where people can interact on a positive note,” he suggested.
“Let’s continue to do something, whether it’s a bowling tournament, a golf tournament, or something where it’s positive for the kids and the youth, and also [for] the adults to interact with the police community and the fire community.
“The more you get to know the people, the less you feel threatened and you will understand each side,” Garret continued. “[The police] will understand the Northside community and the Northside community can have that personal rapport with the cops that patrol that area.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to [email protected]