It’s been a busy week. Two weeks ago my family joined the Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Minneapolis. Last Saturday they protested at Mall of America (we did not attend) and police turned out in riot gear and shut down the mall for a peaceful protest.
On the same day two New York police officers were shot and killed by a mentally unstable man who had killed his girlfriend earlier in the day, killed himself after the incident, and has spouted revenge rhetoric, implying his actions were in response to recent police killings of black people.
Some of the response to that tragedy has blamed the protestors. Not just mild finger pointing, but incendiary language about “blood on your hands.” (Here’s perhaps the best response I’ve seen.)
So here I sit on Christmas Eve writing about it. The whole situation is pretty intense (especially as yet another case is breaking news).
Today my family went to the Million Artist Movement rally/protest in downtown Minneapolis. It’s part of #BlackLivesMatter response to the continuing racial injustice in cases like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others.
It’s interesting. I’ve never really protested before. I’ve been to a few peace protests, mostly in response to 9/11 and the continuing war in Iraq, but I was more there as a journalist/observer than a participant.
Today I was here first and foremost as a dad. Secondly as a protestor myself.
It’s been kind of a bizarre week talking about these cases with our kids.
How do you explain all of this to your kids?
How do you explain what a “die in” is?
How do you explain to your brown-skinned son that police are killing brown-skinned people?
How do you explain that police are still heroes? That while this injustice happens and it’s bad and we want to stop it, not all police officers are bad?
None of it is easy, I can tell you that.
When we told Milo that Michael Brown and Eric Garner were black, he broke down in tears.
His reaction broke my heart. But it also seems like the only appropriate way to respond.
The civil rights movement may have been 50 years ago and we did elect a black president, but that doesn’t mean injustice is over. It’s still all around us, it’s still causing pain, and it’s our time to stop it.
At the rally they led us in a song. I shot a quick video of part of it:
Oh the day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more
But while my sister ain’t equal
And my brother can’t breathe
Hand in hand with my family we will fill these streets.
I can’t help but think of the day that will come when we don’t have to march or cry or fight or despair no more. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. It’s a kingdom hope, but it doesn’t have to be an unattainable hope.
This whole thing is hard and complicated and painful and difficult. If you’re feeling those things, I feel them with you. Please listen.
At the end of the rally they had ribbons and asked us to write something on the ribbons. Here’s what we wrote:
In the span of a few weeks 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police, within seconds of police arriving on the scene; there was no indictment in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Mo.; and now there’s no indictment in the Eric Garner case.
Where the Michael Brown case might seem murky (no video, conflicting stories, charging the officer), the Eric Garner case seems much more direct. There’s video of the confrontation and while Garner is subdued on the ground an officer has him in a choke hold and doesn’t let up, even though the NYPD doesn’t authorize that kind of force.
Their are now protests around the country. My Twitter feed is lit up with outrage.
It helps churches realize where they’re dropping the ball and scaring people away, whether it’s over-eager greeters hugging people (yikes!) or a cold congregation reserving seats (icy!). Jonathan offers practical tips and ideas, drawn from his vast church experience. He’s got funny stories that make the medicine easier to swallow.
“‘Narthex’ sounds like a creature from a Dr. Seuss book. Make your signs visible and understandable.”
My Role in Unwelcome
This is the first CFCC book I didn’t contribute anything to, but I did handle the editing, proofreading and I’m very involved in the marketing. Rather than being bummed I don’t have my name on the cover, it’s kind of cool to see other folks’ stuff getting out there. Jonathan has a lot of great insight and experience (this is his fourth book this year alone!). I was also thrilled to get Kem Meyer to write the foreword.
“Don’t ask what it can hurt. Ask how it can help.”
Unwelcome Launch Week Sale
We’re also doing a big push this week only, so if you’re interested in Unwelcome, grab it now. The digital version is $7.49 and the print is $9.89, this week only. Next week they’ll go up to $9.99 and $12.99 respectively.
“You can’t force your congregation to be welcoming, but you can cast vision.”
Apparently this is the year I blog about local election politics. Sheesh. I didn’t intend to get into these discussions, but it’s been so frustrating to get misleading information. It’s hard enough to research local elections, we shouldn’t have to wade through misleading info as well.
197 Referendum Facts
So School District 197 (West St. Paul, Eagan and Mendota Heights) has a referendum on the ballot to approve levies for three separate things—technology, security and a new stadium.
The technology portion covers student iPads and other equipment, as well as software and training (there’s lots of personalized instruction that can happen with technology these days, but you have to pay for it). The security levy is to upgrade school entrances and minimize the risk of school shootings. The stadium portion—which can only pass if the other two pass (very smart)—is to build a multi-use stadium at the high school. Currently the football team plays 2.5 miles away at one of the middle schools.
For a $200,000 home, this referendum will raise property taxes by $32 per year. The district has some helpful graphs showing our property taxes compared to surrounding districts, before and after the levy.
Have you seen the story about the Green Bay alderman quizzing a Muslim about terrorism before answering her question? Crazy.
Here’s the full blown exchange and the USA Today story, but basically the woman, Heba Mohammad, emailed Green Bay Alderman Chris Wery asking about free public transportation on election day. An innocent question, especially considering Green Bay offers free bus service on Packer game days, and not a bad idea. But beside the point.
Instead of answering, Wery asks Mohammad about her background with a local Muslim student group:
I just want to be assured that your group in no way promotes or defends militant Islamic ideology or Sharia law. Do you and the MSA condemn both of those as well as terrorist groups such as HAMAS?
Wery has quickly apologized, brushing it off as being busy with too many things at once. He realizes he was too blunt and phrased it poorly.
I’ll say. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt, sure, even Mohammad was impressed he called to apologize.
But let’s treat each other like people, OK? You don’t grill someone about stereotypical associations before being willing to talk to them. Especially when you’re an elected official.
Nobody asks me if I condemn the KKK before taking my questions.
Local elections are usually yawn fests, but this year the race for mayor in the Twin Cities suburb of West St. Paul is heating up. incumbent West St. Paul Mayor John Zanmiller is facing off against former West St. Paul Mayor David Meisinger.
Zanmiller has served as West St. Paul’s major since 2005 and ran unopposed in the last election in 2012. Meisinger served as mayor from 2001-2002. (You can see Zanmiller and Meisinger together in this 2013 photo from a gathering of past West St. Paul mayors.)
The contentious issue in the 2014 West St. Paul mayor race? Robert Street.
Finally caved in and turned on the heat this afternoon. After a couple days in the 70s and 80s, temps have sunk below 60 consistently. The cold, overcast days haven’t allowed anything to warm up in the afternoon, so it’s been a high of 60 in our living room.
That’s probably ridiculous.
The forecast has temps dipping into the 30s at night and never getting above the high 50s. So it’s time.
We had a very cool summer this year, rarely getting those hot and humid days when we hit 90. Now the fall seems to be following suit, going cold pretty quickly.