“This Is the People’s City, Not the Cops’”
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Conversations with student activists and organizers at the epicenter of the national abolition movement.
By Billie Forester
Content Warning: This article includes descriptions of police brutality and violent anti-Black racism.
On the night of May 28, I sat on my front porch and listened to the sound of my city mourn. In the symphony of the night, helicopters, police sirens, and explosions sounded an ear-splitting melody, punctuated by the chants of the protesters marching down Lake Street. I watched as police cars sped 60 miles per hour the wrong way down our side street, military tanks occupied my neighborhood, and burning buildings lit up the night sky. At dawn, the streets were covered in broken glass, but residents emerged from our homes with brooms and trash bags. By noon, the glass was gone. Broken windows were covered with plywood; plywood was painted with murals. Within a week, Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street had transformed from a typical urban commercial center to a haunting echo of Kristallnacht to an art gallery.
That night set the tone for this summer in Minneapolis. It felt as if the fires had lit the kindling hiding beneath layers of quarantine lethargy and “Minnesota nice,” and the city rallied behind the collective work of healing and reimagining our community. This shift was about more than the protests, significant though they were; it reached far beyond the streets and seemed to touch our very sense of selfhood. Conversations about the symbiosis between police and white supremacy reached every dinner table, (virtual) classroom, and group chat. On the streets, the veil of my white comfort momentarily fell away, and, like many people, I saw the police violence from which my skin color had shielded me my entire life. Like many students who protested across the world this summer, I have been shot at with rubber bullets with my hands up, and I have been tear gassed while running away from the bullets. Three of my close friends have been sent to the E.R. with serious wounds from rubber bullets or chalk rounds that will leave them with permanent scars. My sister’s friend was severely burned from throwing a tear gas canister away from a crowd. One of my old classmates was tear gassed through his bedroom window as he tried to sleep. I have been lucky enough to escape serious injury, but this summer has left its mark on all of the young people here, whether visible or not.
The South Minneapolis that I’ve experienced as a white person is worlds apart from the one experienced by its residents of color. Even between my Black older brother and me, the difference was stark. While the police returned me to my parents after I got lost as a kid, they arrested my brother, often several times a week, for “loitering” only blocks away from our house. Whiteness hides the threats of racial discrimination and police brutality from many of us; to do these issues justice requires listening to the young activists of color leading the charge.
The four trailblazing activists I interviewed have launched a fight to rebuild Minneapolis in a better image. Here, I compile four separate dialogues that I held with each of the individual activists, though I have stitched them together and organized them by theme. These are just four of the countless incredible students I have gotten to know. Their perspectives on the summer illuminate the astronomical stakes in this fight for freedom, humanity, and justice.
Trevon Tellor is a rising senior at Augsburg College in Minneapolis who has been doing anti-racist and anti-capitalist activism work since he was in high school in Bloomington, just outside of Minneapolis. He is co-founder of the Bloomington Anti-Racism Coalition, through which he helped organize several protests this summer in support of eliminating police presence within schools. He also volunteered as a medic on the front lines of protests.
Seventeen-year-old Isra Hirsi told me that “organizing has been a really important part of life” for as long as she can remember. Last year, she helped found and became the executive director of the U.S. branch of the Youth Climate Strike. To her, climate activism means something far bigger than saving the turtles, beloved though they may be. She sees climate justice as a fight to save humanity. Just as police violence disproportionately claims Black and brown lives, so does climate change, and Isra feels an obligation to advocate on both fronts. Her humanistic approach, focus on intersectionality, and resounding call for more diversity within climate activism have made her an influential force within both the climate and racial justice movements.
Abdoulie Ceesay, an organizer with Young People’s Action Coalition (YPAC), first started learning about social justice from older activists in student groups at Southwest High School. While these groups focused more on education than action, he said it was necessary for him to be educated before he could create change effectively. “These groups really exposed me to a lot of the knowledge that I’ve been sharing and building off of since then.” He was inspired to join YPAC by his older brother and fellow activist, Omar Ceesay. “Through [the Coalition], I started taking more actions, going to community meetings, taking trips to advocacy events, and making more connections with other kids and activists.” Recently, Abdoulie has been working with YPAC on their push to remove police from public schools.
Mimi Kol-Balfour, also a Southwest graduate, was involved with Educate Ya Self in high school and will be a first-year at Barnard in this fall. “I guess it’s always been in my blood,” she said about her activism. “My grandfather on my mom’s side was a freedom fighter. He did the whole bus boycott. He was a founder of the NAACP and was in the Black Panthers. He spread that to my mom and my older siblings, so I grew up going to protests and learning about all that jazz.” She helped organize three demonstrations this summer: a rally in south Minneapolis to garner support from the Uptown community; a march in District 13 to sway City Councilmember Linea Palmisano to support police abolition; and a sit-in memorial for George Floyd at the Capitol, which several thousand people attended.
Illustration by Lilly Cao
On the Front Lines of the Protests
Billie: What was your experience like on the front lines of the protests following George Floyd’s murder? Did you feel that your experience matched the way the protests were reported in the news or seen by people who weren’t there?
Mimi: Being on the front lines was fucking terrifying. There is no scarier feeling that I have felt in my entire life than standing there and standing still in the midst of that chaos. . . . I got gassed, I got shot at, I watched the AutoZone burn to the ground. I watched a line of people peacefully continue to walk forward towards the police and then sit down and proceed to be gassed. . . . None of us could breathe, none of us could see, there was milk all over the ground. There was nothing that the media could’ve portrayed that would’ve readied me for the feelings that I felt while I was standing there on the frontlines. There is no video, there is no picture, there are no words that could describe anything like that. It was this weird mix between adrenaline and fear and a drive to be there. I felt like I needed to be there. . . . It was truly wild. My heart is beating faster just talking about it now.
Trevon: I was a medic for the last half of the uprising. . . . Working at that clinic was when it solidified for me just how brutal and violent the police were being. . . . The Sunday that the truck drove through the protest on the highway, I went down to drop off some gauze, and the police were there, still, after it had gone past, and there were students trapped on the on ramp. . . . An hour after the truck drove through, there were people on the on ramp yelling at the police, and they just unloaded tear gas and rubber. So we run back, and this dude comes out of the giant cloud, bleeding out of his eye. Dude just straight up lost his eye, so us and four other guys had to help him wrap it up and get him into a car. So this wasn’t even police brutality. This was just straight up war to them.
That’s something the news is missing when they cover the violence. They don’t talk about what happens after, or what happens to the victims. We all know that everyone was gassed and shot, but do they actually talk about what it did to people on the news? No. But if you look, it’s really bad. Serious wounds and concussions and all that, which the news didn’t even bother really talking about. The news just doesn’t bother to talk about the fact that about a quarter of the youth population in Minneapolis has straight up PTSD now. I had to take off 3 weeks of work, literally because I would be at work and a cop would walk into the store, and I would freeze up and panic, and I would have to leave. . . . The guy who lost his eye pops into my head all the time. And I’m sure what I’m experiencing is miniscule compared to what so many other people are dealing with, as well. That is one thing I wish the news would cover: that a bunch of us are traumatized now because we were on the front lines of what was essentially a war zone for a week.
Billie: As a person of color, how has the increased coverage of violence towards Black bodies impacted you?
Isra: I watched George Floyd’s murder once, I did not watch Jacob Blake’s shooting, I just couldn’t, even though everyone was posting it all over their Snapchat and Instagram stories. It just makes me very uncomfortable, I don’t like the fact that we’re normalizing Black people being harmed by the police. And the fact that we’ve become so desensitized to signal boosting a Black man getting shot on camera. Also, most people I saw posting did not post a trigger warning, it was just people being like ‘this is infuriating.’ And it is. I understand, but we have to stop normalizing this. This is not something that we can become desensitized to.
Media Portrayal: Looting, “Riots,” and Outside Agitators
Billie: How do you feel the events here since George Floyd’s murder have been portrayed by the national media? Are there any aspects that you wish had gotten more attention? What do you wish the rest of the world knew about the movement here that you feel isn’t being portrayed?
Trevon: I think that just by how the media operates in capitalism, it’s all about what looks really cool. So in this case that’s going to be rioting and burning and violence. And while all of that did happen, they’re only showing what’s happening in the moment, and they don’t talk about all the violence that’s been occurring to Black people for, like, 401 years now. I think that’s the big thing that people don’t get. They’ll be like, ‘Why are you burning all this stuff?’ Well, because we’ve been getting lynched and enslaved and beaten and raped for over 400 years. Nothing that we’re doing or destroying now will ever come close to what has been robbed from us. Even there [at the first protests at the Third Precinct], the police shot first. They’re the ones who escalate these things. But the news doesn’t come until after it already popped off.
The one thing that I wish people would take away from this is that no amount of property that is lost is equal to a human being lost. Period. I just do not care. We could burn down the entire town and to me that would be worth it if it could save one Black life. I wish that was all it took. All the wealth that we’ve been robbed for 400 years adds up to billions, if not trillions with interest. So anything that we take or burn or loot or steal is basically wealth that should’ve been ours to begin with. I know that a lot of people don’t want to hear that, but that’s what I need people to take away. This shit was ours anyways, and now we’re taking it.
Isra: There’s been so many community-based efforts since the riots, since [George Floyd’s] murder, and I don’t think that people talk about it enough. Minneapolis has really come together. I remember driving past the Target across from the burned precinct, and seeing lines of people picking up free groceries and being stunned because that was the work of my city, and it was all donation-based. The same thing with Powderhorn, when people go and give food drops, or at Seward. That is just so powerful. People don’t wanna talk about it. They want to talk about how Minneapolis burned their city down, which is such a weird and flawed way to go about it. I think people like to use the negative, like, ‘Oh, Minneapolis is so dumb, they burned down their own small businesses, and their own city, and that’s why looting is so bad.’ But in reality, everything that got burnt will make a full recovery, and they have raised more money than they needed, and the city is completely fine due to donations, and due to community and grassroots efforts. We took a negative and turned it into an extreme positive, and I honestly think Minneapolis will be better than it ever was.
Mimi: The obvious answer is about the looting and the violence, which were portrayed a lot more heavily than the peaceful protests. And I know that the vast majority of the protests that I went to were peaceful, and at the ones that I went to that weren’t peaceful it wasn’t the protestors who started it. And I think the worst part about it is that no one’s surprised. Because obviously, we would never show a BLM protest to be peaceful like we would any other protest. I guess I just wish the world saw George Floyd’s memorial a little longer. I wish people saw the people who were there 24/7 protecting it, rather than just saying that they were breaking curfew or whatever other words they were using that I don’t want to repeat. I guess I just wish it was shown to be more peaceful. Because it really was.
Billie: There has been a lot of attention given to the presence of outside agitators at the protests. What do you think about the coverage of these outside agitators?
Trevon: There were definitely white supremacists running around. My choir director’s house got shot at by a truck full of white dudes, so it’s pretty clear what was going on with that. But low-key, the focus on outside agitators kinda pisses me off, because it’s the same thing that moderates have been using forever. Even during the Haitian Revolution people claimed that there was a white guy who was getting them to revolt. It’s symptomatic of the idea that Black people don’t have the autonomy to choose that we want to revolt. . . . So am I the one who’s burning stuff and breaking windows? No. But I do understand that that is a legitimate form of insurrection against a corrupt government. . . . Yeah, I’m sure there were outside agitators there [at the burning of the Third Precinct], but at the end of the day, this was just a lot of people who were angry, and we had been asking quietly for years.
So, the outside agitator thing really frustrates me because I feel like it’s a way for white liberals to forget about Black autonomy. Like, ‘Oh, these sweet Black people would never get angry and rise up.’ It’s a way to deny it, but I don’t want them to deny our anger, I want them to hear it. I want it to get to their core.
Isra: I think it took away from the anger of our community. People have to understand that, yes, of course, there were outside agitators, but at the same time the core of everything is the anger, the drive that people had to demand and to force change. I think that, yes, people did loot, and looting was necessary, and rioting was necessary, because obviously, if people hadn’t done that, nothing would’ve happened. So I think giving the agitators too much credit takes away from why everything happened in the first place.
Social Media, Performative Activism, and Virtue-Signaling
Billie: How much influence do you see social media as having in redefining what activism can look like?
Mimi: Oh, my god, I think social media is so important in this new wave of activism. This one revolution has become the biggest civil rights movement in history, because of all the information that is getting out there. The information went out to so many people in so many different states and countries in a matter of nanoseconds. That is just amazing to think about. And it’s only going to get better and it’s only going to get faster. Social media as a tool is only going to get stronger, and we’re going to start using it more and more to our advantage. . . . We have this advantage over older generations who don’t understand how to control all of the information that we are trying to access and share. We are the technology babies, we are the generation who grew up on smartphones, and we are going to use smartphones to our advantage for everything. That is going to drastically change how we see social activism. . . . Nowadays it is so easy to find information, fact check it, and post it on your story. If it’s so easy and you’re not doing it, it’s going to make it very clear who’s with it and who’s not. And again, it really helps to hold people accountable and start people on their anti-racism journey and all that jazz.
Billie: Do you think posting educational infographics and stuff like that on social media can create real social change?
Isra: There’s levels to social media activism. There’s a line where it’s clearly performative, like when people have Black Lives Matter or even just BLM in their bio in an almost decorative way, when they haven’t said anything else. . . . Some kids will post a little bit, but then they don’t talk about it offline. Or you’ll know kids who have anti-Black tendencies, but they’re out here posting about BLM when they haven’t addressed or tried to apologize to the Black people that they’ve harmed. It’s definitely hard to balance if the infographics are helping or if posting on your story is helping. I think that it can be powerful, but you also need to understand that that’s not where you need to draw the line. We have to do more. . . . Things like the #blackouttuesday are a really good example, though: kids posting a black square on their Instagram and then not doing anything after that. … So, at the end of the day, a lot of people don’t actually care, and that is the clearest example of kids who don’t actually care and are just posting because everyone else is and they don’t want to be perceived as racists.
Billie: How have you been impacted by the reactions of your white family and friends?
Mimi: Between all of the planning, and the going to protests, and keeping up with everything on social media, and wanting to be updated, there’s me as a Black body and I have to take care of myself. But on top of that I also have had to take care of the white people in my life who have been reaching out to me to apologize for all of the racist shit they have done to me over the past lifetime. So it’s been a whole. . . . It’s not just me anymore, it’s the people all around me who are leaning on me to make themselves feel anti-racist. . . . There’s the large issue with allyship and how there’s a difference between performative activism and actual activism. And I know that to be a correct ally you do have to apologize for your past racist behaviors, but for me there is a difference between atoning for your past racism and shoving your past racism in your closest Black friend’s face—or non-Black P.O.C., even, because racism is everywhere. I think a lot of white people have yet to learn the difference, and that has shown recently.
Billie: Can you speak about the presence of white allies at these protests? What role do you see for them, and when does their presence become more burdensome than supportive?
Abdoulie: I remember this time at a protest, when there was a white man standing next to me, and he was just so apologetic. He asked me, ‘How do you feel? Are you okay? Do you feel any better? Are you angry?’ Like, yes, I’m angry, that’s why I’m here! I’m ready to shout my voice for the cause. He responded, ‘I love you. I’m just so mad.’ At that point, he wasn’t being that much of an ally. He was just trying to feel bad for me, but I don’t need white pity. I feel like at protests white people should be there to support and act as human armor. Because you can’t feel what I feel. I can’t tell you my experience and have you say, ‘I understand.’ You can recognize my struggles, validate them, but you can’t be more sad than I am, you can’t be more angry than I am. And trying to isn’t going to fix anything or help me as a Black person. This isn’t the space to amplify white grief or white guilt.
School Resource Officers
Note: Isra, Trevon, and Abdoulie have all been part of the push by students and families to get School Resource Officers (SROs), out of schools. SROs are police stationed at schools to maintain students’ safety. Many argue, however, that the presence of armed police in schools poses a threat to students of color. The fight to get cops out of schools is not new, but it has recently gained attention and support from communities and politicians in the Minneapolis area. Isra and Abdoulie have been working toward this goal for years.
Billie: A lot of student activists I’ve spoken to have rallied behind the fight to remove School Resource Officers (SROs). Why do you think this issue has struck a chord with so many people? Why is it such an important issue?
Isra: You hear about a white cop killing a Black man, and it’s the same police department that’s in our schools, and I think that that realization is very, very scary. I think that’s why the push happened so quickly. The fight has been kind of frustrating, though, because I started doing this work in 2017. . . . It’s really really frustrating to me that it took George Floyd’s murder to motivate people to change things, as if this hasn’t been happening with the MPD since the beginning of time. Since Jamar Clark’s death five years ago, we’ve seen multiple Black and brown men die at the MPD’s hands. So, yeah, it’s really frustrating that only now the city board, the school board, the state, are deciding that this was the tipping point when Black people have been begging them for literally decades.
Trevon: We want cops out of towns, period. So if we want cops out of our towns, then we also need to get them out of our schools. That is where Black youth enter the justice system first, is through the school to prison pipeline. So because what we’re trying to do is get cops out of our lives, why not start by bringing it to the schools? . . . Running into Bloomington and being like ‘Get rid of all cops now,’ even though I want to do that, it isn’t very strategic. But a really good place to start is by saying ‘Hey, we can get them out of our schools.’ And that will prove to everyone that they’re not integral, that they don’t really do a lot, period. So that was my huge thing.
Billie: In June, the Minneapolis Board of Education announced plans to terminate their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department. Do you consider this a victory?
Abdoulie: Yes, it is a victory, but also it’s frustrating how long it took them to do it. We have been calling for SROs to be removed from schools since Jamar Clark’s death. Personally, I don’t even think, for them, it took George Floyd’s death to change it. I think it was the violence and looting that drove them to vote, not youth voices. . . . I honestly think that increasing funds to schools that need them would be a true victory, because that’s what schools need. . . . We don’t need a cop to be there to de-escalate conflicts, when the teachers are already doing that but better. . . . I feel like the money we spend paying these cops would be better used for actual education even in the cases where the cops aren’t harassing the students.
Abolition, Anti-Capitalism, and Radicalization
Billie: Can you elaborate some on your problems with focusing on reformist policies?
Isra: I think reforms can definitely be distracting. But it’s also like being communist, being abolitionist, you don’t just achieve those, it takes a long period of time. Agitation, anger, and education really help, so I guess I don’t have to technically involve myself to push for change. There’s the idea of pressure and anger, sometimes, are enough to force conversation and even politicians like the City Council to listen. . . . Things like mutual aid, though, are the best answer. For example, when people took over the Sheraton hotel [to house people experiencing homelessness], that is the best example of solutions outside of politics. Forcing affordable housing, forcing a grocery drive, knowing your neighbors and communicating with them and helping them with their needs, posting about people who are asking for help, especially the most vulnerable like Black trans folks. Things like that go outside the system and make the system uncomfortable, and I think we need to do more of that rather than just focusing on these legal reforms.
Trevon: I think the big thing for me was realizing that with fascism, you can’t vote it out of power. And we’re really close to getting there. . . . When it comes to being Black, there’s been laws that have given us rights, but we’re still being lynched, and we’re all broke, and there’s still all of those same problems that have been around forever. . . . Reform is really cool because it makes life easier, but it doesn’t solve the root of the problem, which is why we keep having to riot. . . . The root of the problem is capitalism, so if you’re not going to address that, then we’re not going to actually fix anything.
Billie: Isra, Your Twitter bio is “Yes i’m 17 and I hate capitalism.” Does this hatred of capitalism shape how you approach issues like climate change and racial justice?
Isra: Capitalism just exacerbates everything in relation to the climate crisis. You have these big businesses, especially big oil companies pushed to build their own capital at the expense of human lives. You have people who have to work within horrible conditions (for example, at mining companies), things that are actually hurting the environment simply because they have to have a job. It forces people to exploit the planet just to make a living. . . . Money pushes the climate crisis. It is the core reason that it exists so constantly. In order to even remotely stop the climate crisis or have a shot at it, we have to critically look at capitalism and how this country operates within capitalist systems. I don’t think the climate crisis can end unless capitalism is eradicated.
Billie: Trevon, I know you consider yourself an anarchist, anti-capitalist, and an abolitionist. How necessary for you are radical politics to anti-racism work?
Trevon: I’m not going to go around telling everyone to be an anarchist. Especially indigenous people, because they have their own ways of going about anti-capitalist work . . . but I do think that anti-capitalism has to be at the forefront of anti-racism work. Our modern view of race literally comes directly from the trans-atlantic slave trade and colonialism, so you can’t break those two apart. Capitalism is built upon things like extraction and slavery, and those are things that are really hard to justify if you recognize everyone as human beings. So, to make capitalism really work, you have to be racist, or otherwise you realize that, ‘Oh, I’m hurting other human beings for money.’ So we’ve seen what anti-racist work without anti-capitalism looks like, and that’s the laws that got passed in ‘63 and ‘67, and none of those policy changes ever really do shit for us. None of those policy changes ever really address the real problems. Capitalism is at the root of race and how it was created, so I genuinely don’t think there’s any way to address racism without getting rid of capitalism. The two are just too intertwined to ever pull apart.
Billie: I feel like this summer has been a really radicalizing moment for a lot of people, especially young people in our generation. Why do you think that this moment specifically has caused such a large political shift for so many people?
Trevon: I think that this was the first time that people realized that revolutionary activity is possible, because why would you worry about voting when you can burn a precinct? . . . We learned we have power, and used it, and now we want to use it again, because in the past it didn’t seem like we had any. But now it’s pretty clear that we can do a lot. The first week, people were raising thousands and thousands of cash, and cans of corn and oil . . . so we were for all intents and purposes doing post-capitalism. I think that what happened here was a way to look into what a post-capitalist world is going to look like; where we all take care of everyone, and we all work together.
Isra: I think it really became personal again. . . . When Jamar Clark died, when Trevon Martin died, people didn’t feel as connected. But I think it’s continuing to happen as we get older. As we move into high school and college, a lot of kids are seeing that nothing has really changed, and the changes happening aren’t happening fast enough, and that makes us really angry at the system. So I think [they are] seeing the failed state that we exist in, and the amount of Black and Brown lives that are being lost. A lot of kids are learning so much more nowadays both because of social media and increased research, and it has really just shown a lot of kids that everything around us is fucked up. . . . It also really forces political conversation within every friend group and in every family, so these kids either have to defend or discuss their political beliefs and thoughts at the dinner table, and that has been something that has been really different that hasn’t happened in the past decade.
Sources of Hope and Motivation
Billie: Have there been any events or conversations that you’ve had that have been a source of motivation and/or hope for you since June?
Mimi: The memorial was really a place where we could just check in. . . . Being there made me feel like I needed to kneel down and pray, and I’ve never had that kind of feeling before. So, yeah, it was pretty powerful. It’s a really powerful place.
Trevon: I think the biggest thing was people realizing that abolition was possible. . . . I started getting into abolition in early 2019, and when I would talk about it everyone would be like, ‘Oh, you’re crazy, that’s not cool, you’re wack.’ But now, we talk about it and people respond with ‘Yeah, you know what, we don’t really need cops.’ For me, that’s a huge jump. . . . That is really hopeful for me, that things are actually kind of changing. There’s this perpetual energy in Minneapolis now, like people are still going to protests now, and they’re still big.
Our New Minneapolis: Moving Forward
Billie: Has your view on Minneapolis changed over the course of this summer?
Trevon: This is the people’s city, not the cops’. So I feel a lot more rooted in Minneapolis now. . . . I feel some form of responsibility now to make things better. . . . I come from an iron range household, miners and stuff, so I always knew the whole state of Minnesota had a deeply radical labor history. But seeing what happened in the uprising here made me really proud of our state, because we’re carrying on this tradition of radical roots and actually taking action.
Mimi: Minneapolis as a whole has really gained a lot of respect from me. So many people rallied behind this revolution. I think that it really had to be this specific time, this specific city, this specific person, and this specific way to die, which shows a whole other problem, but all that combination of things really came together and sparked this need and this community to rise up, which is really awesome. I will say it definitely has changed my view of different individuals, which I think is really powerful.
Billie: What are your personal hopes for Minneapolis for the next year and in the coming months?
Isra: I would definitely want to see a lot more social workers, especially because so many 911 calls are mental health-related. I also want to see a lot more money put into affordable housing, because homelessness is another really big reason why people call the police. I want to see less surveillance on residential neighborhoods. It’s so uncomfortable to walk into your home and see a cop patrolling right outside. I also want everyone to be involved in the process. I want it to be a city wide conversation and I think that it cannot happen unless it is. I don’t trust the City Council to make decisions without talking to us anymore.
Abdoulie: Honestly, I would want Minneapolis to turn some of these streets and schools into POC names. We need to stop naming schools like Jefferson after white supremacists and slave owners. I feel like we’ve been fighting for our freedom for the longest time. With the amount of people who have died at the hands of police over so many years, we deserve to be recognized. We have a right to live in a city not named after our oppressors.
Mimi: I think it would be pretty dope if we were the first city to abolish the police. In my bones I feel like it’s not going to happen, but it would be so amazing if it did. And we are the closest anyone has ever gotten. That would be my biggest goal, but I’d be less happy but content if it were defunded. But it would have to be significantly defunded. Like fixed. Even though there is no fixing the police department, there needs to be a genuine and impactful attempt. At least. I don’t think freedom fighters are going to stop until at least somewhere the police are abolished.
Trevon: What I would like to see in Minneapolis in the next year or two would be communities and neighborhood blocks coming together, everyone knowing who everyone is, and everyone talking, because that’s the only way to get restorative justice, is to know people. A lot of this work isn’t going to be waiting for the Council to do things for us, we’re going to have to build things that remove the need for the police in our communities. That means talking to your block about how to solve conflicts and being comfortable with actually solving them ourselves. I know it kind of sounds like a non-answer, but because we can’t actually stop capitalism right now, what we can do is try to build systems that reduce our need and the presence of cops.