What does justice look like?

For everyone around the world, but especially here in Minneapolis, it has been a tough few weeks since George Floyd was brutally murdered by Minneapolis police. Finally, a critical mass of people are starting to realize that we can’t keep trying the same process and expecting different results. We should welcome the conversation about the abolition of police, not that it will happen immediately, but we need to start changing the paradigm. If you say, “We need to get rid of all police”, then I might say, “What about people having a mental health crisis?” Well, there are a lot of ways we could deal with folks having mental health crises without calling armed police, as just one example. These groups have put in the work for years, check them out:


Demonstration at 3rd Precinct, 2 days after George was killed. After 4-5 hours of the police standing on the roof shooting at people, looting and fires started in the neighborhood.

Memorial site at 38th and Chicago, Cup Foods.

What do I know? I’ve been involved in social justice issues for decades. I live in South Minneapolis, and attended the protests. The area destroyed was where we shop, where we go to the drugstore, the post office. Sure it sucks, but if this results in real change, it will have been worth it. Property can be repaired or replaced, but we can never bring back all the lives so tragically and unnecessarily lost to police murder. Over 30 years ago, I testified about my experiences with police brutality at a packed City Council hearing. Conversations about ‘reform’ have not done a thing in half my lifetime. Its time we rethink how we deal with intransigent issues, do we really think the police are the best way to handle homelessness, or mental illness, or domestic violence, or any number of issues? Let’s use this tragedy to create a positive movement.

This is me getting arrested by MPD in 1988. I was standing on the sidewalk at a protest, these cops decided they didn’t like the way I looked, grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I was never charged with a crime.


Color photos by Kevin Brown, bottom photo AP