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Update: Minneapolis Indian Youth Center burned, funds quickly raised to rebuild
May 27th, 2020
To All Our Relations —
This letter has been written on behalf of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group (MUID) – a collaborative of some thirty American Indian organizations operating within the Twin Cities metropolitan area of Minnesota (please see the attached organizational listing). The purpose of this communication is to state our collective response to the tragic death of George Floyd on Monday, May 25th, 2020.
In no uncertain terms, the membership of this collaborative strongly condemns the murder of one of our fellow citizens, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Furthermore, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group condemns the ongoing and systemic racist ideologies that continue to run strongly through the department like a virulent and lethal pathogen. This disease of spirit is actively polluting the minds of some of the rank and file to the point where they are no longer able to perform their tax payer funded jobs with any degree of professionalism, or with any legitimate capacity to restrain themselves from brutalizing and murdering fellow human beings. To this we collectively and loudly proclaim NO MORE.
The murder of George Floyd was an unmitigated and horrific tragedy that has brought shame onto our community. Without question, it was a complete failure of any form of moral decency or the most basic expressions of humanity by officers who have taken an oath to “serve and protect”. The eyes of the world are now upon us. How we come together to permanently rectify this situation and prevent it from happening again is now paramount. However, we must first acknowledge that this unspeakable act of evil is not new, that in fact it is a recurring problem suggestive of a deeper systemic sickness.
The Minneapolis Police Department has a long history violence against indigenous people and people of color. The American Indian Movement was founded in Minneapolis in 1968 as a direct response to unchecked brutality being perpetrated by the Minneapolis Police Department upon our community members. In 1992, two members of our community were forcibly constrained into the trunk of a Minneapolis Police Cruiser. In 2008, the officer who killed George Floyd, Officer Chauvin shot and wounded an individual during a domestic violence call, and then again in 2011, Officer Chauvin shot and injured a man at Little Earth. In 2015 Jamar Clark was murdered at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. Sadly these are just some examples of many such incidents.
Still, in 2020, the Minneapolis Police Department are openly murdering black and brown people in broad daylight without hesitation, and without any concern from the open shouts of local bystanders who pleaded for the life of Mr. Floyd – who were in essence pleading for the lost humanity that had apparently vacated the four responding officers. And these are only the most high profile symptoms of the spirit of hate and racism in our police department. There have been so many more instances that while not making the papers, left undeniable scars on our people. No more. We demand action and improvement, nothing less.
We reject outright as false the defense of the Minneapolis Police Department that contends that the actions of a handful of depraved individuals cannot overshadow the department as a whole. Any attempt at minimizing such pervasive sickness by localizing it to a “problem few” is in actuality a demonstration of willful ignorance, and perhaps an act of complicity. It minimizes the scourge of lethality that these “few” repeatedly wield upon our people. Moreover, it neglects the fact that the Minneapolis Police Department provided the very context within which these attitudes were developed and potentially cultivated into full maturation. The department itself was either too inept to detect these sick individuals before they were given free rein to commit atrocious acts of murder in broad daylight, or worse yet, the department actively fostered and endorsed these attitudes and then turned them loose onto the public.
As has been established within the public record, two of the terminated officers involved in the murder of Mr. Floyd have already been involved in numerous previous shootings of civilians, as well as stood accused within previous police brutality lawsuits that were eventually settled out of court. This demonstrates a clear pattern of behavior either endorsed by the Minneapolis Police Department, or a chronic and severe negligence by the department to root out and remove such dangerous and sick individuals from further service. Either way, all indicators of contact tracing points towards the Minneapolis Police Department as the very source point for this infection that continues to spread and kill.
The Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison praised the immediate termination of the assailants responsible for the murder of Mr. Floyd, explaining that the move as necessary “to clean the wound”. We agree with the Attorney General’s characterization that the perpetrators represent a dangerous bacterium that left untreated, will continue to infect the society as a whole. The time is now to make wholesale and discernable changes to the department lest we all succumb to the death that continues to seep out of local precincts onto our streets, and into our homes.
The membership of Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group stands in support of the recent actions and words taken by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, but strongly urge further, demonstrable actions to be undertaken.
Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group calls on the swift and vigorous prosecution of the four offending (and now terminated) officers complicit in this murder to the fullest extent of the law.
Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group stands with the African American community, and all other communities regularly target for violence by the Minneapolis Police Department.
We believe that this department wide sickness emanates directly from leadership — specifically the President of the Minneapolis Police Federation. Mr. Bob Kroll has a long history of bigoted and ignorant remarks in the press, and public displays of allegiances with known purveyors of racism. Mr. Kroll has repeatedly and openly propagated racist ideology within the public sphere while serving on the Minneapolis Police force. The vitriol emanating from the words of Mr. Kroll are the very same ideology represented within the infected minds of the responding officers who murdered George Floyd, and for all the others who have brutalized black and brown people with impunity while wearing a badge. We therefore also call on the immediate termination of Bob Kroll from the Minneapolis Police Department. By retaining his position amongst the force, Mr. Kroll is able to retain his position as the union lead. This by its very nature serves as a powerful signifier to those “problem few” within the Minneapolis Police Department that they have a benefactor in a position of authority, and by virtue of his position, will protect them at all costs, no matter how villainous or lethal their exploits become on the streets of Minneapolis against the very citizens they have pledged to protect.
Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group demands these recommendations will be implemented without delay. Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group also demands that more strategies will need to be developed and implemented to properly protect black and brown people from its own police force that it subsidizes.
Great strides have been made in recent years under the leadership of Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria "Rondo" Arradondo to bolster a more positive relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and the Urban American Indian community. Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group and our community appreciate the positive, long-term partnerships and relationship within the Minneapolis Police Department, especially in the 3rd Precinct. Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group stands ready to work with Chief Arradondo and his officers to create positive, sustainable, systemic change with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Additionally, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group will continue to engage with the Native community, and with all stakeholders to create a collaborative and sustained efforts to combat these very serious issues now gravely impacting the Minneapolis American Indian population.
Let us start to heal. Let us move forward in peace and harmony. Let us see what we can create together.
“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world.
And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being.
And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father.
And I saw that it was holy.”
- Black Elk, Oglala Lakota (1863-1950)
Wopila Tanka, and Chii Miigwetch
Robert Lilligren – President and CEO of Native American Community Development Center (NACDI) / Chair of Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary LaGarde – Executive Director – Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC)/ Vice Chair of Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group email@example.com
Dr. Joe Hobot – President and CEO – American Indian OIC (AIOIC) /Letter Author firstname.lastname@example.org
Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Website: www.muidmn.org
Listing of Voting Member Organizations within the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group:
1. All Nations Indian Church
Marelene Heglemo - Pastor
2. American Indian Community and Development Corporation
Michael Goze, CEO
3. American Indian Movement Interpretive Center
Clyde Bellecourt – President and CEO
4. American Indian OIC
Dr. Joe Hobot - President & CEO
5. The Circle Newspaper
Cat Whipple – Managing Editor
6. Division of Indian Work
Louise Matson- Executive Director
7. Dream of Wild Health
Neely Snyder - Executive Director
8. Indian Health Board
Dr. Patrick Rock - President & CEO
9. Indigenous Peoples Task Force
Sharon Day- Executive Director
10. Little Earth of United Tribes (LERA)
Jessica Rousseau- Executive Director
Kelly Drummer – President & CEO
12. Minneapolis American Indian Center
Mary LaGarde - Executive Director
13. Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center
David Nicholson – Interim President & CEO
14. Mni Sota Fund
Kit Fordham – President & CEO
15. Native American Community Clinic
Dr. Antony Stately - CEO
16. Native American Community Development Institute
Robert Lilligren – President & CEO
17. Nawayee Center School
Joe Rice – Executive Director
18. New Native Theater
Rhiana Yazzie - Artistic Director
19. Upper Midwest American Indian Center
Gertrude Buckanaga – Executive Director
Listing of Ex-Officio Member Organizations within the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group:
1. Bois Forte Urban Office
2. City of Minneapolis – American Indian Community Specialist
3. Fond Du Lac Urban Office
4. Hennepin County Medical Center – American Indian Advocate
5. Leech Lake Twin Cities Office
6. Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Urban Office
7. Minneapolis Public Schools – Department of Indian Education
8. Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce
9. Red Lake Twin Cities Embassy
10. White Earth Nation Urban Office