A recent report has named the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, in Minnesota as one of the worst places for African Americans. This report mirrors many studies from previous years. As such, NAACP Economic Programs Department in conjunction with the NAACP Minnesota State Conference convened a Leadership Round-table and Economic Town Hall to discuss the matter.
This event, although conceived weeks prior, is coming on the heels of yet another racially motivated police incident. Last week, two police officers from the 4th Precinct decorated a Christmas tree with stereotypical derogatory items offensive to the Black community. The tree was decorated with empty Takis bags, Popeye’s cups, cans of malt liquor, menthol cigarette boxes among other items.
Minneapolis NAACP President, Leslie Redmond, weighed in on the situation:
“I was annoyed, I was disheartened, but one thing I wasn’t was shocked because the 4th Precinct time and time again have shown their disregard for the lives of people in the community and black lives overall. I believe that there are a lot of people who work in Minnesota to actually produce justice, but I also think there are many forces working against it, and we have to recognize that this is a systemic issue and it’s not just good enough to fire the individual who put this up. We need to look into how many officers walked by and was OK with it.”
The 4th Precinct, three years ago, was the site of an almost three-week occupation held in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jamar Clark. The following year, Philando Castile was shot to death just 15 minutes away in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul.
Both shootings resulted in social unrest which has caused NAACP to pay closer attention to the area. Through an on the ground presence and collaboration with local NAACP chapters and other civil rights groups, NAACP aims to guide meaningful policy reform and to bring about measurable improvement for African Americans in the Midwest.