NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Wednesday January 20th 2021

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Raise Your Voice

Way Forward: Abolish?

By PETER MOLENAAR 

It appears that a section of the deep state has been mobilized to thwart the well armed Proud Boys, (sons of Little- Boy-Man). Indeed, a thin blue line is forming to defend the degree of democracy afforded us under the capitalist system. Meanwhile, ”we the people” will defend and deepen democracy- the thread that ties us ultimately to socialism. On the other hand, some “fine citizens’’ are infiltrating the police. 

In opposition to the looming electric vehicle revolution, the military industrial complex demands more copper from the ground. For her part, Mother Earth declares a limited capacity to serve both. Hence, a developing contradiction is emerging within the present ruling class. 

A framed art print rests on my desk, conveying,; KNOW PEACE, LIVE JUSTICE. There is an image of an African-descended person caressing a dove. The artist, Ricardo Levins Morales, is much appreciated around here, but allow me to pick a bone with him. 

Scattered about in our mini lending libraries is found a book called: Enough Is Enough (the cover is purple). 150 years of MPD misconduct has been documented as a backlog to the almost daily ongoing outrages in this country. Try to remember every name… my aging brain suffers from several head injuries, including two stemming from armed robberies, during which I was knocked unconscious. Brother Ricardo was instrumental in producing Enough Is Enough. The sign on his studio door reads, “Abolish the Police Now!” 

According to Enough Is Enough (p.7) those of us who continue to advocate for reform are guilty of “the ultimate in magical thinking!”. Moreover, in essence the demand PURGE THE RACISTS is said to flow from “frivolous arguments”, i.e., reform is not possible. 

In fairness to Enough Is Enough, “abolition” actually might mean incremental defunding over time (p. 49). In theory, a progressively revised budget would uplift communities, thereby reducing the need for police. However, what cadre of social workers will intervene in potentially violent scenarios without police backup? 

Reality check… 

Has a one-sided focus on the police question dimmed the big picture? No way will defunding the police purchase the required reparations. Enough Is Enough makes no mention of taxing the rich; no mention of demilitarizing the whole economy; no mention of fundamental socialist transformations. Is “the system” eternal in their view? Truly, such is the nature of magical thinking. 

So, what reforms might be implemented in the here and now? Camden New Jersey set the example by firing its entire force, and then reconstructing minus the corrupt elements. Were Minneapolis to follow suit, the door would be opened to COMMUNITY CONTROL (i.e., vetting). 

Might it be possible to humanize the police? 

Some 20 years ago, East Phillips leaders met with a competent police liaison. We were, at the time, a neighborhood full of children and crack cocaine. Might we expand from this experience to have every officer report to public gatherings on a scheduled basis? Hey, once they get to know us, the sum total of their arrogance should diminish! Not every apple in the barrel is rotten to the core. However, toss out the Proud Boy variety, please. 

Despite 150 years of bad precedent, every social formation is fraught with contradiction, and therefor is subject to change. In the not so distant future, in consequence to a ”democratic worker’s state”, the state (i.e., the repressive arm of government) will wither away. Ricardo Levins Morales and his many friends are good people. Ricardo’s father was a Marxist-Leninist. I honor his father’s memory. 

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Peace House Community–A Place to Belong

By MARTI MALTBY 

In Praise of Creativity

About a month ago, I attended a seminar for grant writers. Everyone there hoped to find more effective ways of convincing foundations to give money to our agencies. During the discussion, someone asked me how Peace House Community had pivoted in our service delivery model since the onset of covid. If you aren’t sure what they were talking about, don’t feel alone. I understood all the words they used but still had to translate the question into normal person language. 

“Pivoting” is the trendy new way of asking how organizations are adapting to changing circumstances. I was supposed to say something like, “We’ve pivoted to external service delivery to reduce the risk of covid transmission onsite”, which would have meant we’re serving meals in our parking lot instead of in our building. The person I was speaking with would have understood my answer, but I couldn’t bring myself to say such a ridiculous sentence. 

Instead, I explained that PHC has been flexible about how we provide our services. I spend a lot of time speaking with our community members about what they need and figuring out how to meet those needs. If I asked them how I should pivot, they might think I was about to break into dance and move a safe distance away. On the other hand, if I ask them what sort of foods we should serve through the winter,or how to help them stay warm, they will give me a roadmap for what to do. Our members can be as creative and imaginative as any foundation in figuring out how to adapt to covid or any other crisis they face. 

I have been struck by the amount of creativity I have seen in other parts of society over the last few months. People with limited resources are finding innovative ways to meet their needs and care for family and friends (and sometimes even complete strangers). Sometimes it is a matter of survival, but often it is simply a desire to make the world a better place. They take it as a personal challenge to find innovative ways to make things work in a world that feels like it has fallen apart. When I see some of the ideas they have, I realize just how unimaginative I am. I can come up with good ideas, but usually only when it is absolutely necessary. Other people do it every day just for fun, and they make it look easy. 

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is keeping us sane and optimistic through their creativity. You are facing the same lousy situations as the rest of us, but you are handling them with anything from determination to playfulness. You remind us that we are not governed by our situation, and that we can always choose to fight back against our problems in new ways. You are subverting the storyline that says we are nothing more than victims who must submit to the conditions in which we find ourselves. Thank-you for doing what you do. 

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Ventura Village News

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Alley Communications Annual Report: A Call

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AIM Co-founder Eddie Benton-Banai Remembered for His Contributions to Native Culture

By LEVI RICKERT

Reprinted with permission by www.nativenewsonline.net

HAYWARD, Wis. — Native communities in the Great Lake region are mourning the loss of Eddie Benton-Banai (Bawdwaywidun Banaise), a co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), who passed away on Monday, Nov. 30, in Hayward, Wis. He was 89.

Benton-Banai will be remembered for his vast contributions to the resurgence of Anishinaabe culture throughout the Great Lakes region where he was a grand chief, or spiritual leader, of the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge. Beyond his role as a spiritual leader, Benton-Banai was an educator and author, who sought to preserve Native culture and spirituality.

“There are people who inspire us, who help us reach the spaces where we are able to be our best selves, who strengthen us to protect what our ancestors wanted for us. There are those who carry these teachings and wisdom and accept the responsibility. They are our teachers, our healers, our inspirations, and one of the greatest has walked on. Bawdwaywidun Banaise was one who accepted the responsibility of teaching and guiding the people,” Shannon Martin (Gun Lake Potawatomi, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe), director of Ziibiwing Center of Anishinaabe Culture and Lifeways in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., said to Native News Online.

Eddie Benton-Banai. (Courtesy photo)

“He chose to stand for us, spiritually, ceremonially, and as an advocate politically. He carried and shared the prayers, prophecies, songs, and spiritual teachings of our ancestors. Bawdwaywidun taught many of us how to pray, sing, fast, laugh, cry, listen, and speak our language,” Martin continued.

Born and raised on the Lac Courte Oreilles Indian reservation in Wisconsin, Benton- Banai was incarcerated in his early adult life after he was convicted of manslaughter. 

“Eddie ended up behind bars for a crime that a white man wouldn’t even have been tried for. He was in St. Paul while on leave from the army. He came out of a bar and saw an older white man trying to force an Indian girl into a car. Eddie pushed him, and the man fell and hit his head against the curb. He later died of a brain hemorrhage, and Eddie was convicted of manslaughter,” writes AIM co-founder Clyde Bellecourt in his autobiography “The Thunder before the Storm.” 

After being released from prison, Bellecourt and Benton- Banai, along with Dennis Banks, started the American Indian Movement to stop police brutality in the Minneapolis-St. Paul twin cities in 1968. He was present during the AIM occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. 

Benton-Banai received a degree in education and a master’s of business administration degree. He started the Red School, an American Indian school in Minneapolis and St. Paul during the 1970s. 

“Eddie was a mentor and friend to me and countless others. He worked up to his passing planting seeds to revive our Anishinaabe culture and language. For the next four days, I am going to observe a spiritual sacred fire and pray that he serve as messenger to bring our prayers with him,” Sault Ste. Marie Tribal Chairperson Aaron Payment wrote on his Facebook page. 

Benton-Banai is also known for authoring “The Mishomis Book: The Voice of the Ojibway” that draws from the teachings of tribal elders that educate the youth about Ojibway creation stories and legends. 

The following statement was issued today by Garden River First Nation. It reads in part: 

“Today we mourn the passing of a great knowledge keeper and spiritual leader, Dr. Eddie Benton-Banai, Bawdwaywidun from Lac Court Orielles Band of Ojibways in Wisconsin and a relative from the Fish Clan,” stated Chief Any Rickard. 

“Eddie was a leader in the early days in advancing Anishinaabe-controlled education and cultural-based education based on Anishinaabe philosophy and our sacred prophecies. 

Eddie led the effort in revitalizing our traditional governance institutions by planning and organizing the historic gatherings here in Garden River First Nation in 1992 and 2007 by rekindling the sacred fire of the Three Fires Confederacy. Moments in time that will live on forever in the sounding of the voice of the Little Boy Water Drum and the lowering of our Teaching Lodges.” 

Eddie Benton-Banai in 1971. (Photo: J Walter Green/AP) 

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Tips from a COVID-19 Case Investigator

 By LINDSEY FENNER

Something to Hope For

I didn’t want to write about COVID this month. I’m sick of it, heart-sick. Since November, my coworkers and I have been overwhelmed, with more cases than we can possibly call, and knowing that it has become more likely that someone we’re trying to call is hospitalized or has died. And I know that, by now, all of us have been personally touched by COVID-19. There is so much grief to carry. And yet, with that grief, we now have something to hope for. Today, December 14, as I write this, the first vaccine has been administered to someone outside of a clinical trial in Minnesota. I was not expecting that I would cry, but I did. I’m at the back of the vaccine line, and there is a long way to go until enough people are vaccinated for herd immunity. But I know we are going to get through this. And here are some reasons why:

The vaccine: My thanks go to the scientists, the lab workers, and the vaccine trial participants. These vaccines are truly a testament of people working together for something bigger than themselves. I will share more information when we know more about widespread distribution in MN. But please start having the conversations now with loved ones about their plans for vaccination. It is estimated that at least 7 out of every 10 Minnesotans will need to be vaccinated in order to end this pandemic.

We know so much: COVID-19 has been the subject of thousands and thousands of scientific studies. There are still some uncertainties about reinfection and long-lasting immunity. But this virus is no longer an unknown to fear. We know how it spreads and we have more ways of treating it. We can fight this.

What we do matters: Every choice and sacrifice we have made to slow the spread has helped. Staying home, wearing a mask, not gathering indoors, distancing, handwashing: none of us do this perfectly every time. And we are going to have to keep on doing it for a while. But don’t EVER doubt that it doesn’t help.

More work needs to be done: It should be no surprise that the folks most harmed by this pandemic are indigenous and people of color, low wage workers, and people who are incarcerated. In Hennepin County, indigenous neighbors are 9 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 as white neighbors, and 5 times more likely to die from COVID-19. According to the New York Times, as of December 16, there have been at least 2,733 cases of coronavirus in meatpacking plants in MN, with over 700 cases at the JBS Pork production facility in Worthington. There have been at least 5,985 cases of coronavirus in prisons and correctional facilities in MN, with over 1,000 cases at Stillwater alone. We need to stand in solidarity, to fight for the lives of our neighbors and to fight for our collective futures.

You are not alone! If you need help:

Community Care Community Coordinators: COVID Community Coordinators are community organizations partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health. They can answer questions about: 

Where to get tested for COVID-19

Food support

Health care and mental health resources 

Housing and rental assistance

COVID-19 case investigation and contact tracing

Employment resources

Community Coordinator Hotline Numbers (For more, visit https://covidcommunitycoordinators.web.health.state.mn.us/)

Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES): 651-768-0000, Monday – Friday 8:30 am to 5pm; Saturday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Spanish

Cultural Wellness Center: 612-249-9528, Monday – Friday 24 hours; On call weekends; English

Division of Indian Work: 651-304-9986, Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm: English

WellShare International: 612-254-7308 (Somali/English), 651-318-0051 (Spanish), 763-312-6362 (Oromo), Monday – Friday 8:00 am to 8:00 pm; On call evenings/weekends: English, Oromo, Spanish, Somali

Hennepin County Essential Services: If you’re a Hennepin County resident who has recently tested positive for COVID-19 and needs help remaining in isolation, we can help. Call 612-348-3000 or email EssentialServices@hennepin.us. The line is staffed 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Help is available in different languages.

Lindsey lives in East Phillips and has been working a reassignment as a COVID-19 Case Investigator for local public health since May. She is tired but hopeful. Her opinions are her own.

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AICDC’s New Shelter Homeward Bound Opens To Serve in Minneapolis!

 By LINDSEY FENNER

The Homeward Bound Shelter opened at the former Cedar Box Company building at Cedar and Franklin. On December 7, 2020, American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC) opened a new 50 bed shelter providing culturally specific services for the Native American community.The shelter will operate 24/7, and provide meals and storage. Hennepin County provided $3.5 million in funding, with additional funding from the City of Minneapolis, the State of Minnesota, and private donors. The shelter was developed relatively quickly, due to the hard work of contractor KMS Construction and AICDC staff, with murals by Rory Wakemup. To get connected for placement at AICDC’s shelter, call Adult Shelter Connect at 612-248-2350.



 HOMEWARD BOUND, AICDC’s new 24hr Shelter opened on Monday, Dec. 7th!
Executive Director Michael Goze sent gratitude to the many people that have worked tirelessly to make it happen including; Funders, KMS Construction, subcontractors, Rory Wakemup for the art, and most of all the staff of AICDC!
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Alley January 2021

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Alley December 2020

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EPIC news | East Phillips Improvement Coalition

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