Mall of America, #BlackLivesMatter, and a Fire in North Minneapolis

21 Apr
Photo Courtesy Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

Photo Courtesy Black Lives Matter Minneapolis

Meanwhile, in the halls of injustice, there’s this from Harry Colbert Jr. at TC Daily Planet, who’s doing the yeoman’s work to return that publication to form. Regarding the devastating fire on North Broadway which destroyed the lion’s share of a bustling block last week, Colbert Jr. writes:

A longtime neighborhood grocery store, Brix, was lost, as was the headquarters to community action group, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC). While the cause of the blaze has yet to be determined, there is speculation that the fire could have been intentional.

NOC has been a crucial player in fundraising and organizing in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area for better public transit, workers’ rights, expanded voting rights, and police accountability, especially in under-served neighborhoods of color (via their website). This year, they were also integral to sparking some of the most high-profile protests in recent memor, asdf actions they organized with Black Lives Matters Minneapolis (BLM Minneapolis) and other local grassroots organizers, The BLMM protest in the Mall of America in one of the busiest shopping weeks of the year, BLM Minneapolis captured national attention and local heat —

Minnpost says that BLM Minneapolis has worked closely with NOC to achieve legislative goals dear to both groups’ hearts. According to Kristopher Tigue at Minnpost, this includes:

“…increased transportation funding in north Minneapolis, a citywide $15 minimum wage, stronger language in Minneapolis police body camera policy and a worker’s bill of rights.

One major piece of legislation, [Neighborhoods Organizing for Change Field Director Mike] Griffin said, is the Felon Voting Rights Restoration bill, which would potentially give 60,000 felons in Minnesota the right to vote after they’ve served their time.

To my eye, the above list of legislation reads like a manifesto, a “declaration of independence” from old-guard, small government, by-your-own-bootstraps America. More than a contentious protest at the Mall of America in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury findings, this list is no pipe dream. Most items on the BLM Minneapolis/NOC list of goals have already been passed into law in other parts of the country like Seattle and Los Angeles.

But the odd circumstances surrounding this fire should spur people to ask the questions many Minnesotans are asking this week. Was this fire set intentionally? Was it someone’s idea of retaliation for the MOA protest or the proposed legislation that BLM Minnesota and NOC are organizing? If so, who set the fire? Who stands to lose from the proposed legislation and who is doing the investigating into this fire?

It’s very hard not to see it as a political act when an arson fire is set on April 15th, Tax Day in America, if that’s what this is.

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