Once again, I find myself writing notes for interested parties on the geography of a killing, by police, of a black man. I lived a block from the site in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, where Philando Castile was killed. I wrote about that here. I did not ever live too near where Jamar Clark was killed, but I did live for a few years within gunshot sound distance from where George Floyd was murdered, which by the way, is a half block away from where Tyesha Edwards, at the age of 11, lost her life in gang violence while working on her homework, in 2002. But I digress.
Duante Wright was killed in Brooklyn Center. Brooklyn Center is on the Mississippi, bordering on Minneapolis, and has a population a bit over 30,000. It was at one time the Center of “Brooklyn Township” but incorporated as a separate city in 1911, so it is now bounded on the north and west by Brooklyn Park, and on the south by North Minneapolis and Robbinsdale. My fair city, Plymouth, is just to the west, about one kilometer.
Minneapolis is a very urban city, meaning, it as an incorporated entity does not include any significant non urban areas that are not parks (of which there are many). It is surrounded by a ring of “inner ring” suburbs, which either touch the city (like Brooklyn Park does) or, in a few cases, touch a city that touches the city. Without exception, these inner ring suburbs are not suburbs by the usual definition. They are as urban, or in some cases even more urban, as the adjoining areas of the city itself, and they generally reflect the adjoining areas of the city with respect to the overall nature and character of the streets and houses, the demographics, the predominant business, etc. So, for example, you can hardly tell the difference between the la-la-shi-shi parts of South Minneapolis, along “The Creek” and nearby “The Lakes” from Edina, a wealthy inner ring suburb (that’s where Al Franken is from, but from the days when it was less wealthy). If you stand on one of the key intersections at the boundary there, and you are very observant, you’ll notice that Minneapolis and Edina have different streetlights. The Edina streetlights are a bit nicer. That’s about it.
Brooklyn Center also adjoins Columbia Heights and Fridley across the river (where I lived for a year) across the river, and abuts North Minneapolis (part of Minneapolis proper). North, Columbia Heights, and Brooklyn Center together form a vast urban zone with primarily residential properties and a very high level of ethnic diversity. As Minneapolis developed in the 20th century, it became a highly segregated city, with North Minneapolis including a majority share of Black neighborhoods, and adjoining Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center were eventually, in the 1980s and 1990s, to become spillover areas for the adjoining populations. However, as this spillover happened, these neighborhoods doubled down on diversity. In 2010 (according to the census) Brooklyn Center was majority-minority white (just under 50%), about one fourth African American, and the rest Hispanic/Latinx, Pacific Islands, Asian, and everybody else. Since then, the diversity has increased, I’m pretty sure, with fewer White people, more people of African diaspora links, Central and South Asian people, and others. Brooklyn Center and nearby Brooklyn Park is where you might want to go if you need African food stuffs.
This is the site of the homestead, now an historic site and conference center, of the locally famous Earle Brown, who was the founder of the Minnesota State Patrol and the first sheriff of Hennepin County. This important historical connection to policing in Minnesota will be lost on pundits and observers, but it is locally poignant. For me, I’ve been to education and science related conferences at the Earle Brown center, and our son’s pediatrician is right there, at the local health clinic.
The top local business in Brooklyn Center is Medtronic (you probably heard of Medtronic). The third biggest employer is Caribou Coffee.
Where does the name “Brooklyn” come from? The settlers of the earlier and larger Brooklyn Township came from Brooklyn, Michigan, a tiny village near the racetrack. Brooklyn Michigan is named after Brooklyn, New York. Brooklyn is a versionized form of Breukelen, a town in the Netherlands. In Dutch, it probably means “Broken Land.” Which applies today to its namesake’s namesake.