Minneapolis Tornado Update: Info, Sad News, and the Politics of Race

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Two pieces of sad news, some useful information, and a personal note (well, more of a political note).

First, the useful information. For those of you affected or busy passing information to those who are, the City of Minneapolis has set up this web page with information: Resources available for North Side residents affected by tornado

Sad item one: There has been a second death, related to the cleanup. Details.

Sad item two: After passing through one of the more urban areas of Minnesota, the north side of the City of Minneapolis, the tornado crossed the Mississippi River, which includes a fair amount of rather wild country. And there, within the boundaries of the city but along the river, it struck and destroyed the local Great Blue Heron rookery. Details of this event are provided by BirdChick who is also the conservation officer who discovered the damage. Read: Minneapolis Heron Rookery Destroyed By Tornado

Finally, I just want to extend my good thoughts and kudos to Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak. Here’s what you need to know: If you don’t live in North, but you live in the Twin Cities, then you know of North as a dangerous slum, a blighted African American neighborhood where there are frequent shootings, arsons, kidnapping, and where the police gather in clusters wearing bullet proof vests and carrying big-ass firearms, just in case. Most of these stereotypes are held and passed around by people who’s families fled North a generation ago, to the newly minted suburbs, or who have never been there, mainly out of fear.

Well, North does include a good proportion of the African American population of the city, and it also does include something close to half of the crime that happens in the city, and it is where you will, in fact, find a good number of any sort of events commonly noted on the local evening news happening. But that is because it is, well, about half of the city. North Minneapolis is quite large, and North does not include any of the la-la-shi-shi upper middle class and wealthy neighborhoods (which are in South) and it does not include the University Campus (which is in South and Southeast) and it does not include downtown (which is neither North nor South, by our local nomenclature), so North defaults, statistically, to something close to the average. It is actually a diverse area with all sorts of people living in it (not that tornado victims have to be “diverse” to be our sisters and brothers in need). Despite the obnoxious remarks made by local readers on the WCCO news reporting web pages about the tornado, in which people actually referred to the tornado as appropriate Karma for those living on the dole in Section Eight Housing, I’d wager that the majority of homes destroyed or damaged in this event were working class owner-occupied. And, I quickly add, do we really want to throw people who rent under the bus in a society in which people who own have almost single handedly destroyed our housing market with unchecked greed married to unmitigated ignorance? I don’t think so.

The other night the local new station, especially Fox 9 but to some extent the others as well, breathlessly reported widespread looting in North Minneapolis. They showed the owner of a liquor store saying “well, you know how it goes … unprotected property, and this is what they will do” wink wink nod nod. They showed clusters of Minneapolis police standing around with big scary looking long-guns and other weapons, donning their bullet proof vests, and looking tough.

In response to this, the mayor came out and made it clear that there was NOT widespread looting in the city. There were a couple of incidents. They were managed. What really happened was this: Everybody in the affected area took a look around them and immediately tried to do what they could do to help their neighbors. Yes, the news mentioned that as well, but they sullied the sense of community with their sensationalist reporting of non-events. And RT had the balls to set them straight. Thanks for that, RT.

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One thought on “Minneapolis Tornado Update: Info, Sad News, and the Politics of Race

  1. Yes. Especially if you are prepared to bdooonck. We stayed at the college for a few nights. It was the most convenient. There were also plenty of other lots we could have spent the night at. I’ve also heard that local churches are welcoming. I am so glad you are heading that way. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I will do my best to answer them.

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