Last week, as the temperature started to drop and the rain began to shift into the first flakes of snow in the oncoming Minnesota winter, people in Minneapolis had more to worry about than a little cold. The dark side of our state and its history was on full display for any who care about such things, as Black Lives Matter continued to rally for justice in the latest example of the white supremacist legacy our state, like the rest of the nation, maintains.
Of course, this is stuff we don’t like to talk about, and I am as guilty as anyone here on this blog, focusing on all that awesome adventure stuff we can boast about around town, keeping to the well worn Minnesotan tradition of not talking about controversial political topics, don’t want to start up any interpersonal conflicts, now, do we? Best stick to safe topics like hot dish and where the best new craft beer can be found. After all, the media has widely reported how awesome we are, like, the best city in the country, a city with a quality of living at a global stage. We’ve got it all, and in many ways I think that’s true. Well, best for us white people, anyway. At the same time, we also are among the very worst cities for disparities between the economic power and achievement of black and white Americans. This, sadly, is no surprise.
Under the shadow of terrifying violence and horror across the world in recent months, many citizens of our own cities have been terrorized by the very system that is supposedly honor bound to protect us, and this has been the case since the very beginning. This came once again to Minneapolis, as it has to many other American cities in recent years, when officers representing the Minneapolis Police Department summarily executed Jamar Clark, an unarmed black citizen in front of a crowd of witnesses. This is no different from the oppressive tactics used by white supremacist police in Minneapolis for a century, as we see here, Historyapolis’s article about resistance against police violence toward the African American community back in the 1920s, called by historian James Loewen as the “Nadir of Race Relations in America. Guess we haven’t changed too much.
Our town has a dark side, one that it has long tried to sweep under the rug. Back in the 1930s, back during the time when Minneapolis had the disgusting and well earned moniker of the Anti-Semitic Capital of the United States, we could boast the largest collection of Silver Shirts, fascist little copycats of the Nazis and Fascists in Germany and Italy, patrolling the streets.
And it wasn’t that long ago when a local German restaurant kinda dropped the ball (Hell, let’s name names, Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit – you can google it if you wish) by letting some dudes get way, way too into “roleplaying” Nazi SS officers and play dress up to LARP a private Nazi rally (for “historic” educational purposes, of course). Prolly best to avoid ‘em. You have my MSP-Adventure time official seal of disapproval, and I used to enjoy going there, too. Them, and the Mall of America.
As our governor maintained one of the proudest traditions of our state’s history by reiterating our duty to aid the victims of war across the world, voicing opposition to racists who wish to deny entry to Syrian refugees hoping to escape the fear inflicted upon their war torn homeland, citizens of our city once again were terrorized by their own government. As Black Lives Matter rallied to shut down the Fourth Precinct where the shooting took place, crying out peacefully for an outside investigation and the release of police documentation of the shooting to bring justice to Jamar Clark’s murder, some Minnesotans seemed to want to live up to their billing of, even in the mainstream press, the true largest terrorist threat to the United States.
I have not let my voice be heard at the 4th Precinct, though I was honored to have marched with Black Lives Matter back in April, but I’ve watched their protests and the activities of some of my acquaintances and colleagues in the fight for justice with great interest and my thoughts are definitely with the protesters. Never would I have expected the neo-Nazi scum to launch such a flagrant and horrifying attack on peaceful citizens fighting for justice and freedom of speech, but I should have known better.
As I went about my business last week, biking from library to library, while the workers for justice continued to shut down the Fourth Precinct, I saw for myself signs of terroristic white men. Right in the heart of “liberal” Uptown Minneapolis, along the Midtown Greenway, vile messages of hate were scrawled upon the underside of a bridge, letting any passersby know who exists out there. Sick to my stomach, I reported the hate marks and the city quickly dealt with them, erasing them from the visible landscape. Sadly, covering things up did nothing to chastise the source; it was later that night that I read the City Pages article describing the bloviating swagger of two armed internet Nazis threatening the lives of protesters.
Seeing some stupid, pointless white supremacist scrawling and appaling online bluster annoyed me, but I didn’t think much of it- though really, I should have expected a visit from the terrorist group lurking all over the net. It was with shock and horror that I learned last night that white bigots actually shot down several protesters. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but no Nazis were apprehended either in a heavily policed zone. Do all of these events stem from the same guys, the vandalism, the video, the attack? I don’t think they are unconnected, if only to the vast and amorphous blob of neo-reactionary fiends who plan “jokingly” online and are oh so shocked when violence actually results. We can only keep an eye out, I guess.
They’re out there, and dangerous. If you see a white guy walking behind you, maybe you should cross the street. I won’t be offended!