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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Tuesday July 16th 2024

Ilhan and Neegonnweedun

By Peter Molenaar

Was it fifteen years ago that a Somali man named Jaylani suffered a psychotic breakdown at the Chicago Crossing parking lot off Franklin Avenue? He would be executed by the police before that day was done.  Had he been white, people believed another outcome would have occurred.

So then, Neegonnwayweedun ”“ The Thunder before the Storm ”“ yes, Clyde Bellecourt led a long column of Somali people and their supporters.  Protesters marched from Lake Street down Chicago Avenue to the County Government Center.  Clyde said to the Somali people “Don”'t let them send you back!”

Note:  This summer, at the Phillips Community Center, I witnessed a beautiful cultural exchange between Native and Somali youth.

November 4, 2016”¦

We gathered at the American Indian Center to purchase copies of The Thunder before the Storm ”“ the autobiography of Clyde Bellecourt.  In one passage of the book, in the spirit of forgiveness, Clyde approaches a man who had attempted to kill him.  He gently asked “Why did you shoot me?”

Any lingering ambivalence of judgement should be resolved by reading the book.  By historic proportion, Clyde Bellecourt is the most honorable figure of this community. 

November 8, 2016”¦

Donald Trump is elected.

November 13, 2016”¦

Under the banner of “Our Revolution,” some 700 people came to St. Peter”'s AME Church to process things.  The gathering reflected the ongoing movement generated by the Bernie Sanders campaign.

I was fortunate to be sitting at the front, so as to be close to Ilhan Omar when she spoke.  Ilhan emanates such a saintly and eloquent presence.  She tells us that now is not the time to “turn cheek,” but rather we must engage the forces of oppression by means of “compassionate confrontation.”

Readers of Clyde”'s book might share a vision of Native Peoples adopting Ilhan as their own.

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