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Bjorn Against

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Member since: Mon May 22, 2006, 07:07 PM
Number of posts: 12,041

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Minnesota State Democratic Chair speaks in support of Black Lives Matter Mall of America protesters

Earlier this week ten Minnesotans including influential civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds and nine other organizers with the Black Lives Matter movement were informed that they facing criminal prosecution. Their "crime" was organizing a peaceful protest at the Mall of America, a building that was built with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and just accepted another $250 million in tax breaks to build a major expansion.

Despite the fact that the public paid for a big chunk of the mall a foreign corporation claims private ownership of it and has set very strict rules to ensure that free speech is not exercised there, they are fine with it when people gather in the rotunda to rally for their favorite sports team but speaking in support of black lives is strictly prohibited.

Bloomington Attorney Sandra Johnson says that the protesters created a "tinderbox" that could have erupted at any moment. Never mind the fact that the protest already happened and was peaceful by all accounts with no property damage or injuries, but Sandra Johnson apparently considers too many black people gathered in one spot to create a "tinderbox".

Sandra Johnson does not just want to charge peaceful protesters as criminals for speaking out in support of black people in a place where doing so is strictly prohibited however, she also wants them to pay for the costs of the riot police that were sent to shut down the mall and intimidate the peaceful protesters.

Charging protesters for the cost of the riot police sent to intimidate them would set a very precedent of course and that is why people across the nation are standing in solidarity with the MOA 10 and demanding the charges against them be dropped.

Today we got a major new ally when Ken Martin chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party issued a surprisingly strong statement in support of the protesters who have been charged. Here are his words in full....

On this eve of the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life I am reminded of some very simple but profound words from Dr. King who said, “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The recent decision by Bloomington City officials to prosecute organizers of the Mall of America protest is not only unjust – but frankly a threat to the very underpinning of our great democracy – the freedom of speech.

Thousands of Minnesotans from all walks of life gathered in a peaceful protest to bring awareness to the issues of inequity facing the African-American community, both here and around the country. Protests give people hope that in solidarity they can make their voices heard and be a catalyst for change within our communities. By charging the organizers of this protest, the City of Bloomington is, whether intentional or not, setting a very dangerous precedent that will have a chilling effect on non-violent protests. When you start to strip individuals of their right to be heard, you take away their hope that change is possible.

While the DFL recognizes that all lives matter, the alarming disparities which exist in our state for African-Americans is unacceptable and deserves acute attention by our community as a whole. The DFL strongly believes that black lives matter, and the short shrift that these growing disparities get by elected officials, community leaders, and the business community is not acceptable.

It is not acceptable that we have some of the highest graduation rates and test scores for white children yet some of the lowest graduation rates and test scores for African-American children. It is not acceptable that we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation as a whole, but one of the highest percentages of unemployed African-American populations. It is not acceptable that in so many quality of life indicators the white population in this state is faring better than communities of color. And it is certainly not acceptable that we charge people with a crime for trying to bring awareness to the inequities which exist in this country.

Dr. King’s march for justice did not end with an assassin’s bullet 47 years ago. While we have made many strides over that time, the recent events suggest that the issues of racial equality are as important as they ever were. So much work remains to reach that promised land that Dr. King so eloquently spoke of.

Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, “You should not separate the life you lead from the words you speak.” As elected officials, community and business leaders gather this Monday to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I urge them to not just speak of racial equality but to live those words and work deliberatively and thoughtfully to address the growing disparities which exist within our community effecting communities of color and specifically the African-American community. It’s not enough to say that black lives matter, we must see actions that provide opportunity for all.


While I always vote Democratic I have often found myself frustrated by the silence of the party leaders when it comes to showing support for those who engage in peaceful protest. Today I am not feeling that frustration however, today I am proud of my state party chair for standing up for free speech and racial equality.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Fri Jan 16, 2015, 08:35 PM (1 replies)

We need to start recognizing the rights of the victims of "self defense" shootings.

Most people believe that we have a right to self defense, but rarely do we talk about the rights of those who are killed by a person who claims self defense.

While it is true that a person who is dead is unable to exercise their rights, I believe that any just legal system would treat them as if they did have rights. If I were ever killed by a person who claimed self defense I know that I would like to be treated as innocent until proven guilty after my death, I certainly would not want the courts to just take the shooter at his or her word when they claim I was a threat.

Looking at the killings of people like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Eric Garner, and numerous other cases it is clear that all of these people were treated as if they have no rights what so ever. They were all treated as guilty until proven innocent and the right to "self defense" of their killers was placed above every last one of the victim's rights.

I think most of us can agree that there are certain cases in which self defense is justifiable, but I wish we could also agree that a person who was killed by someone who claims self defense should also have rights. Proof of their guilt should have to be provided, no one should be able to just gun a person down without being able to firmly establish that they posed a real threat. While people have the right to self defense that right should not outweigh every last one of the rights of the person they claim to have defended themself against.

We need laws in place which firmly establish rights for those who are killed by people who claim self defense, until we start respecting the rights of shooting victims we will keep seeing more Trayvon Martins and Michael Browns.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun Jan 11, 2015, 01:18 PM (8 replies)

Those who defend the murder of black people do not deserve respect, they deserve to be shunned

I hear a lot of people say that we should respect all opinions, but I don't believe that all opinions are worthy of respect. There is nothing respectable about racist opinions, nor is there anything respectable about promoting policies that harm others.

Those who come to this site to defend the murder of unarmed black men are not in the least bit worthy of respect, they are promoting a violent and racist ideology and there is no reason we should have to pretend that this dangerous ideology is a mere "difference of opinion".

I am sick of hearing racists scream about the "right to self defense" of those who murder unarmed black men, yet express absolutely zero concern for the rights of the black men who were shot.

I am sick of hearing the racists scream about an admitted killer like George Zimmerman being innocent until proven guilty while at the same time treating Trayvon Martin as guilty until proven innocent.

I am sick of seeing people being lectured about "not understanding the law" because they oppose a racist criminal justice system that punishes blacks far worse than it punishes whites.

I am sick of being told that we should not talk about race while racism continues to harm millions upon millions of Americans.

I am sick of being told that we are being uncivil for calling a racist a racist while those who express racist beliefs are not called out on their incivility.

The idea that we should respect all opinions may be good advice when it comes to opinions on matters such as musical tastes or other areas in which nobody is being harmed by another person's opinion, but it is not good advice when it comes to discussions of racism. There is no reason that we should respect racist opinions, and there is no reason that we should pretend the obviously racist opinion of someone who tries to justify gunning unarmed black men down in the streets is not actually racist.

Those who advocate for people like George Zimmerman and Darren Wilson are no better than those who advocated for lynchings in generations past. They are promoting a violent and racist ideology and it should not be tolerated by anyone.

It is an absolute shame that it is tolerated by DU.
Posted by Bjorn Against | Sun Jan 4, 2015, 12:56 PM (62 replies)
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