NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Monday February 19th 2018

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February 2018 Alley Newspaper

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Bill Parker – Friend to the Indian Community

BY LAURA WATERMAN WITTSTOCK

Opera devotees tuned in to the Opera program one evening every week to hear Bill Parker play and comment on great music as probably no one has since on Minnesota Public Radio. When the traveling portion of the Metropolitan Opera came to Minneapolis, Bill would pull out all the stops to record interviews with visiting performers. He found one baritone who was interested in American Indians and he took him to the American Indian Center for a pow wow.

At the other end of the day, he also hosted the Morning Show with his well-known humor. He also wrote liner notes for records and CDs, and after his book Building A Classical Music Library in 1994 was published, Best Buy put up life-sized cut-out photos of Bill to greet customers. His collection of thousands of tapes and CDs gave him broad access to the classical world.

What is little known is that Bill Parker began volunteering for MIGIZI Communications in late 1978. He came to the Indian community looking for organizations to volunteer for and someone directed him to us. He plowed right in, doing things like carrying sacks of potatoes for a community feast or quietly standing in the back of the room, ready to help. When he found out we would be training college students from the Journalism school at the University of Minnesota in radio skills, Bill said he could teach voice for radio. Once our studios were built and we had a number of students enrolled in our classes, we began taking students from the general public, and the first student we had was David Larsen, who had a pronounced stutter. Bill said he could help him and teach microphone skills as well. Bill did as promised and for the rest of his life, David remembered his training, and he became a sought-after speaker in the Indian community. Another trainee, Ed Sando, came from the circus world where he grappled tents and loaded animals onto the circus railroad cars. He wanted to learn how to narrate live events. Gauging Ed’s gravelly voice from years of smoking cigarettes, Bill thought he had potential. The first assignment Bill gave him was live coverage of an American Indian boxing event. Thrilled with the assignment, Ed succeeded very well. It seemed like Bill was a miracle worker who could understand the voice abilities of his students and enough of their personalities to emphasize their strengths.

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Annie Young, Phillips Elder has died

Statement by Brad Bourn, Mpls. Park and Recreation Board, President, early Jan. 23rd

Annie Young passed away this evening. Annie was the second longest serving Commissioner in the history of the Mpls. Park Board.

I’ve directed Park Board Flag to be at half-staff until Jan. 31st. Like many, I’m still processing this loss. I had the honor of serving with Annie for eight years. She was an early champion of so many of the values I base my work on today and had a leadership style that I try to emulate.

Annie has made our city better in countless ways. All of Mpls. owes her a debt of gratitude.

The MPBR will release an official statement soon and will work with Young’s family to respect their wishes in recognizing the incredible contributions she has made to our parks.

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The Opioid Epidemic in Our Libraries: Hennepin County Needs to Do Better

LINDSEY FENNER

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018 a Franklin Library patron died at HCMC, after overdosing in the library restroom. Another patron overdosed the following morning in a Franklin Library restroom. Although this is absolutely heartbreaking, I know as a Hennepin County Library worker it has become far too common for library patrons to overdose in Hennepin County libraries or on library property. As the opioid epidemic has exploded, as we know too well in the Phillips neighborhoods, public restrooms have become regular sites for drug injection.

Unfortunately, Library Administration has failed to adequately provide for the safety of workers and patrons in Hennepin County Public Libraries. This is not to diminish the wonderful work that public library workers do. But public libraries, as some of the few remaining public spaces, often fill in the gaps that insufficient public services create. Libraries frequently act as de facto day centers and, in some cases, de facto injection sites. Library workers (including County Security, and contracted security and custodial workers) have few or no tools to safely deal with this reality.

For example, Hennepin County Libraries have very few SHARPS containers, either for public or staff disposal. AFSCME Local 2822, representing circulation staff in Hennepin County Libraries, has asked for SHARPS containers in public libraries for months, but the reluctantly promised pilot program (in two buildings out of 41), has been slow to materialize. At a December meeting with union representatives, Library Administration was unable to provide satisfactory information on the availability of SHARPS containers in libraries, proper SHARPS disposal procedures, training, or safety for Hennepin County Security and Library staff or for contracted security and custodial staff. In fact, union representatives were questioned as to why they would care about the safety of workers who were not in their union.

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EPIC Report-February 2018

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Midtown Phillips Neighborhood Association News-February 2018

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February 2018 Ventura Village

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Minneapolis Tribune (March 9, 1876): Erick Wellson’s murdered remains “skillfully butchered.”

Martin G. Farmer, Cemetery Owner, and Cemetery Sexton, We don’t often associate cemeteries with political movements, but the connection between Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery and the anti-slavery movement is undeniable. Farmers Martin and Elizabeth Layman came to Minneapolis in 1853. Like many early Minnesotans, they were born in New York and made their way west in stages—in their case, by way of Peoria County, Illinois. They bought land at what later became the corner of Cedar Avenue and Lake Street in South Minneapolis. The Laymans seem to have gotten into the cemetery business by happenstance when, soon after they arrived, a Baptist pastor asked to bury his infant son, Carlton Cressey (or Cressy), on their land.
The cemetery was founded in 1853 by Martin and Elizabeth Layman who were among the earliest members of the First Baptist Church. The Layman family’s association with the Baptist church may explain why their privately-owned cemetery was never segregated, something that was almost unheard of it the 1850’s and 60’s. They opened Minneapolis Cemetery in 1858 and expanded it to ten acres in 1860. The Laymans, their farm, and the cemetery prospered, and the family built a stately house across from the cemetery gates on Cedar Street. Often known as Layman’s Cemetery, it grew to twenty-seven acres and eventually held around 27,000 remains.

By Sue Hunter Weir

By all accounts Martin Layman, Layman Cemetery’s (now Named Pioneer and Soldier’s Cemetery) original owner, was a mild-mannered and courteous man. He was also highly principled. Those qualities were put to the test in 1876 in his battle with a medical student, E. S. Kelley.

Their fight was over the handling of the remains of Erick Wellson who, after three days of drinking and carousing, was murdered by one of his buddies on February 24, 1876. It was an extraordinarily grisly crime, one in which the horror did not end with this death.

Wellson’s body was placed in the cemetery’s vault where it remained until March 4th. On that day, Kelley went to the cemetery to claim the body; since he did not have any documentation giving him that authority, Layman refused to release it. There was something about the situation that troubled Layman and it appears that his suspicion led him to tell a lie. He wrote that: “I doubted my obligation to deliver it to him… I told him [Kelley] that I was a friend to him [Wellson] and I would bury him myself.”  As generous as that offer was, it’s hard to imagine that Martin Layman, a highly religious man and a pillar of the community, counted a man with Wellson’s reputation and habits among his friends. Most likely Layman told a fib in order to ensure that Wellson’s remains received a respectable burial.

Kelley returned with a certificate from a local undertaker who did have a legitimate claim to the body. Layman recognized the need to have complete information about the condition of the body for the upcoming murder trial and agreed to turn the body over to be examined on condition that it would be returned to him in as close to its original condition as possible.

Eventually some, though not all, of Wellson’s remains were returned to the cemetery. On opening the coffin, Layman was horrified to find Wellson’s organs and tissue but no skeleton in the box. He also found the bodies of two cats. It was, according to Layman, “skillful butchery.”

On March 9th, Layman wrote a letter to the Minneapolis Tribune in which he explained what he believed had happened and when. He described himself, as the Cemetery’s Sexton, “most grossly and maliciously insulted.”

Three days later, Kelley responded to what he referred to as Layman’s “long, uncalled-for vindictive article.”  He wrote:  “I am surprised! Shocked! To think of the outrageous manner in which he has attacked me.” Although he offered no proof, Kelley accused Layman of conspiring with the County Coroner to profit from the sale of bodies to favored physician-clients. Kelley admitted, in a remarkably understated line, that “In boxing the remains we were not so particular, perhaps as we ought to have been…” He claimed that was the case because he had expected to re-open the coffin to replace Wellson’s skeleton and remove the “nuisance” from the coffin, a claim that was denied by the physician who was supervising Kelley’s medical training.

Two days later Layman had his last say on the matter. He wrote a letter containing a blistering personal insult. Kelley had challenged Layman to “arise and explain” the disposition of another man’s remains to which Layman replied “…had you one more idea running in that anatomical strata of your cranium, you would never ask me to ‘arise and explain.’”

The battle between the two men appears to have run out of steam at that point. Mr. Wellson’s body was interred in the cemetery’s paupers’ section. E. S. Kelley did become a physician; he died during the influenza epidemic in 1919 and is buried in Lakewood. Martin Layman died on July 25, 1886 and is buried in Crystal Lake Cemetery.

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Transit: Public Transit

BY JOHN CHARLES WILSON

Metro Transit is planning to run extra service temporarily while the out of town Super Bowl crowd is here to ensure they get around. That’s nice. However, what would be extra nice is if they would consider making some of the extra service permanent. Here are my thoughts on what parts of the extra service should be kept:

Route 94: Extra service every 15 minutes from noon to 7 PM on weekends, and 2 to 7 PM on weekdays. While the weekday afternoon service on this route is adequate, or at least almost so, restoring weekend service would be a boon. Route 94 used to run seven days a week, at pretty much all hours except in the middle of the night. This was cut back to weekdays during the day only once the Green Line was instituted. The problem is, while the Green Line is great for trip to stations between downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul, it is slower than the 94 for those going all the way from one end to the other. Restoring more hours to the 94 would be a blessing for people needing to travel from one downtown to the other.

Route 724: Extra service every 30 minutes from 9:30 AM to 10 PM on weekends, only from Brooklyn Center to downtown Minneapolis. As someone who used to live in Brooklyn Park, I know how excruciatingly long the 5 takes between these two places. I believe the 724 would be as big a hit on weekends as it is on weekdays.

Route 4: Extra service every 30 minutes on Sundays from 9 AM to 10 PM between downtown Minneapolis and 38th St. and Bryant Ave. S. The 4 is often overcrowded, especially on the south side. This extra service could help with that.

Light rail: Extending frequency of once every 10 minutes to 11:30 PM. This would be a real blessing. Anyone who has ever waited for a train on a freezing night will understand that 15 or 30 minute headways can be way too long.

On another note, everyone should be aware that renovation of the Mall of America transit center is underway, and the buses are all now picking up at a temporary spot. I’m not sure what the place will look like when it’s finished, but I fervently hope they don’t do away with the warm waiting area. We need it!

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Laura Waterman Wittstock will be “Signing-Off” of FIRST PERSON RADIO/ KFAI 90.3 FM February 14th—Valentine’s Day 2018!

She has produced and hosted FIRST PERSON RADIO for many years. News and stories are streaming out of “Indian Country” as the large number of land islands that dot the American landscape are collectively known, and from the more than two-thirds of the Indian population that live in areas off their home territories. Politics, artistic life, environment, social movements, tribal sovereignty, and the lives of personalities are available to radio every day. Radio is the one way of telling these stories that make them unforgettable.

Laura Waterman Wittstock is president and CEO of Wittstock & Associates. A former fulltime journalist, Waterman Wittstock is the author of several publications, including We Are Still Here: A Photographic History of the American Indian Movement, Diverse Populations/Diverse Needs: Community Foundations and Diversity and Changing Communities,and ININATIG’S Gift of Sugar: Traditional Native Sugar Making. She produces and hosts First Person Radio, a weekly public affairs program on KFAI-FM in Minneapolis and writes an online column in Indian Country Today Media Network. She is frequent contributor of writing in The Alley Newspaper of the Phillips Community after having a regular column for many years.

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