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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Sunday May 19th 2024

Encampment Safety: Is Private Security Really a Solution?

from Letter to the Editor

The vital issue of security at homeless camps in our city is finally being raised by the City Council Public Safety Committee. The Public Safety Committee is tasked with a difficult job, made more challenging through past neglect of issues. The attention of the new members of the Public Safety Committee to the difficult problems posed by homelessness is appreciated.

A proposed solution is to hire private security. Would the security at the camps be armed, and if so what would their liability be? What kind of complaint system and accountability will these private security guards be held to?

Recently a man was shot and killed in one of the Nenookaasi Camps. The threat was known by camp members and police. The police did not try to intervene or de-escalate in any way. How will using private security be better than a professionally trained MPD officer? If the MPD can’t get it right, why do we think private security is the answer?

Even considering the present state of the MPD (understaffed, rife with bias, and with no meaningful accountability) our attention must be focused on why taxpayers have to pay for private security when the MPD should be protecting and serving all Minneapolis residents.… Read the rest “Encampment Safety: Is Private Security Really a Solution?”

Catherine and Jerry

No. 222 from the series Tales from Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery


In October 1892, Catherine Bruce applied for a mother’s pension based on her deceased son’s service in the Civil War. She was 91 years old and “decrepit, in poor health, and poverty-stricken.”
Catherine’s son, Jerry Bruce, died on February 1, 1877, from an epileptic seizure. Jerry had enlisted in Company G 42nd U. S. Colored Troops on September 3, 1864, and within a matter of months began experiencing seizures on an almost daily basis. He was deemed unfit for duty for 58 days of his enlistment; the captain of his military unit said that his seizures “[rendered] him completely helpless.” He was discharged for disability in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 31, 1865.

Catherine had previously applied for this pension in 1878. A man close to the Bruce family, David Lewis, testified for Catherine that Jerry had been a “sound man, in good health,” until his service, and that if Jerry had previously been ill, he would have known about it. Despite his testimony, and that of another witness, the government denied Catherine’s application, which was conditional on the illness leading to discharge being related to his service.… Read the rest “Catherine and Jerry”

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They

from the series Something I Said…


a photo of the author
Dwight Hobbes

Horace McCoy’s Depression Era classic, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (Simon & Schuster), may inspire you to get up on a drizzling, overcast morning and go slit your throat. Simone de Beauvoir lauded it as “The first existentialist novel to have appeared in America” and, sure enough, it’s a grim portrayal of man’s desperate inhumanity to man. And woman.

It is a deftly crafted indictment of life, itself. We witness two down-and-outers trying to get a leg up in their hard scrabbled lives. Robert, dreaming of directing film, rakes and scrapes by, hired now and then as an extra. He comes across Gloria, whose best acting prospects fled with her youth. She sees the rose through world colored glasses. They end up unlikely partners in a grueling dance marathon, taking a shot at the $1500 prize. That amount of money is still nothing to sneeze at. In those days, it was a fortune. Along with, for these two, a clutch at straw, in case a studio scout or casting director has employment as an extra.

Over several weeks on their feet, the contest gradually wears and tears everyone down to just how badly they want, hoping against all hope, to not just survive, but prevail.… Read the rest “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They”

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