Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


Being Black in America: Policing and African American Communities in Minneapolis, Minnesota

MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 2

A new ACLU report details the racialized policing practices of and experiences in Minneapolis, MN. The new report, Picking Up the Pieces, provides an in-depth analysis of the data and the lived experience of racially targeted policing practices in one of this nation's larger metropolitan areas.

The data is summarized in the following graphics, although the full report is very much worth reading in its entirety.  A companion video appears further below.

MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 1


MN - Picking Up the Pieces Graphic 3

Below is the 7 minute companion video for the just-released ACLU report and case study on policing in Minneapolis, MN... Picking Up the Pieces - Policing in America: A Minneapolis Case Study.

Published by the ACLU on May 27, 2015.  For more information, go to:

When Officer Rod Webber quickly approached the car that Hamza Jeylani was sitting in, the 17-year-old hit record on his cell phone. Moments earlier, Jeylani and three friends were pulled over by the officer after making a U-turn in a church parking lot in South Minneapolis after playing basketball at the local YMCA. After Jeylani and two friends were ordered out of the car, Webber threatened Jeylani as he handcuffed him.

“Plain and simple, if you fuck with me,” says Webber on the video, “I’m going to break your leg before you get the chance to run.” “Can you tell me why I’m getting arrested?” asks Jeylani. “Because I feel like arresting you,” replies Webber.

According to police, the rationale for the March 18, 2015, arrest was suspicion that the four young Black teenagers had stolen the car. But Jeylani rejects this. “The driver had license and insurance, and that was his car.” Complicating matters more, police said the stolen car they were after was a blue Honda Civic. The teenagers, however, were driving a blue Toyota Camry. But Jeylani believes he knows the real reason for his arrest. He and his friends, all four of whom are of Somali descent, were driving while Black. “I felt like that was a racial profile,” he says.

The feeling that the Minneapolis Police Department treats people of color, particularly Black and Native American residents, differently than white Minneapolitans isn’t confined to Jeylani and his friends. It’s pervasive, and now it is documented. In late 2014, the ACLU obtained arrest data from the Minneapolis Police Department for low-level offenses, such as spitting, loitering, or driving without insurance, from January 1, 2012, to September 30, 2014.

The numbers show a startling disparity in the way police enforce low-level crimes, particularly in the low-income and minority communities of North Minneapolis and South Minneapolis. Black people in the city are 8.7 times more likely than White people to be arrested for low-level offenses, and Native Americans have it little better. They are 8.6 times more likely to be arrested for low-level offenses than White people.

"We've become the new South,” warns Anthony Newby. “We've become the new premiere example of how to systematically oppress people of color. And again, it's done through our legal system, and so low-level offenses, as an example, are just one of the many, many ways that Minnesota has perfected the art of suppressing and subjugating people of color."

“Picking Up the Pieces — Policing in America, a Minneapolis Case Study” digs into the data the ACLU received from the police department and explores the who, what, when, where, why, and how of low-level arrests occurring in a city known for its affluence and liberal politics over 33 months. The report also recommends reforms to begin the process of improving police-community relations and ensure that all Minneapolitans are policed fairly.

Filmed by Maisie Crow and Molly Kaplan.


How St. Louis County’s Screwed-Up Court System Breeds Resentment


Getting Home Safely in an American Apartheid State – 10 Rules of Black Survival with Law Enforcement

In any just society, the following video, and certainly the 10 thoughtful rules developed by Brother David Miller, would suggest an absolute travesty and the reality of second (or worse) class citizenship.

No people should have to go through any changes in order to survive an encounter with the police, or some rogue vigilante citizen. No group of people in a society should have to abide by an additional set of rules - that other groups of citizens don't also have to follow - in order to go home from an encounter with law enforcement. And there is plenty of video footage out there of white people who have pointed - even fired - their guns at law enforcement, sometimes even killing law enforcement officers, and being taken into custody 'without incident.' Too many Black folks, minding their own business no less, don't quite get the benefit of the doubt.

The reality is that Black people do live a sort of second class citizenship in terms of our relationship with law enforcement. Always have since before the 'founding' days of this nation. So the rules Brother Miller developed are sensible and even helpful, even if they remind us of a horrible way of living for Black people in this country.

And thus, why the protests on the streets of this country are not likely to die down any time soon.


After Michael Brown's death, an important infographic, "10 Rules Of Survival If Stopped By The Police” was developed by David Miller, founder of "The Dare To Be King Project." In partnership with CTS, WFYI, and Trinity United Church of Christ (on the south side of Chicago), SALT has taken Miller's rules and created a short film to bring this critical information to an even wider audience and help save even more lives.

Get Home Safely: 10 Rules of Survival from SALT Project on Vimeo.


Support FERGUSON OCTOBER – Every supportive action you take will help!

Everyone can make a difference! Visit Ferguson October to learn more, and to get updates on activities and steps we can all take to push for change.



Police Pepper Spray North Carolina Teen Inside His Own Home, Mistaken for Burglar

Yet another example of a so-called concerned citizen calling the police on a Black person, because they assume they're either out-of-place, involved in some sort of criminal activity, or a combination of both. The start of this chain of events reminds me of those leading up to the August shooting of John Crawford at the Ohio Walmart store.

At some point, individuals in the larger society must also be held accountable - in addition to over-zealous law enforcement officials - for the ways in which Black males and females are profiled, and the harm that comes from their assumptions, stereotypes, etc.

I'm glad DeShawn wasn't harmed any worse than he was, although the effect of this sort of experience will stay with him for many years to come.

The parents of a Wake County high school student are outraged that police pepper-sprayed him inside their home after a neighbor mistook him for an intruder.

It happened Monday afternoon on England Avenue in Fuquay-Varina.

Ricky and Stacy Tyler have fostered 18-year-old DeShawn Currie for about a year. The Tylers, their three young children and DeShawn moved to Fuquay-Varina in July. They said while they're still getting to know their neighbors, it's hurtful someone would assume DeShawn was a burglar just for going about his normal routine of walking home after school.

"He's my baby boy just as much as my other three children are," said Stacy.

She left the side door to their home unlocked Monday for DeShawn, who was coming home early from school.

Fuquay-Varina police said when a neighbor saw DeShawn walk in; they called 911 to report a break-in. Soon, three officers were inside the house, all to DeShawn's surprise.

"They was like, 'Put your hands on the door,'" said DeShawn. "I was like, 'For what? This is my house.' I was like, 'Why are y'all in here?'"

DeShawn said he became angry when officers pointed out the pictures of the Tyler's three younger children on the mantle, assuming he didn't belong there. An argument ensued and DeShawn said one of the officers pepper-sprayed him in the face.

Read the full news story here.


The Price of Blackness, Parts 1 & 2 – African American Experiences with Law Enforcement

Below are some additional perspectives on the experiences of African American communities and law enforcement.

The Price of Blackness (Part One) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.

The Price of Blackness (Part Two) from ODDGIRLIN on Vimeo.


Another Horrible Example of Police Behavior and Apparent Racial Profiling

This horrendous episode is one of the latest examples of police who - by all appearances - seem to be way out of line, and overstepping their authority. Fortunately, in this case, the brother who is riding in the passenger seat was able to record most of the encounter. And he appears to be the primary target of the officer's "concern".

This is absolutely horrible, but seemingly less and less uncommon! I'm just glad they were able to walk away from this relatively unscathed, and with video to help them make their case.

From The Free Thought Project...

Sandusky, OH — A mother and father were on their way home with their 2 week old baby when they were stopped by Sandusky police officers.

Andre Stockett, the father and the passenger in the vehicle, and the man who took the video, has a good understanding of his rights when dealing with police.

Despite the police pulling over the vehicle, for an alleged “traffic violation,” they do nothing to the driver. Her license is run and it comes back valid so they have nothing on them, yet like bullies on the playground they begin ganging up on Stockett.

Stockett has committed no crime and has not been suspected of committing a crime, so he lawfully refuses to identify himself. This assertion of his rights does not go over well with the bullies on the playground, so Officer Denny throws a temper tantrum.

Read more here.

Related Video:  Sandusky Police Over-Stepping Their Bounds


‘When you fit the description’

charles belk - beverly hills

Here's yet another example of a highly "respectable" African American man being stopped by the police in Beverly Hills, California, precisely because he 'fit the description'.  On Friday afternoon (August 22), Charles Belk was stopped by Beverly Hills police officers because they suspected his involvement in a reported bank robbery.

The problem, of course, is that he didn't 'fit the description' after all. Unfortunately, and typically it would seem, the officers were reluctant to even review the footage from the bank, which eventually revealed that he really didn't fit the description.

I'm sharing this because it's yet another case of a Black person being racially profiled, and treated dismissively by police officers for hours, until they finally realized their mistake and let him go.  Belk describes his experience in more detail via his Facebook page, and reprinted at Daily Kos.  It's another tragic example of Black folks of all stripes - including those very successful and 'respectable' by this society's standards, who are subject to similar kinds of racial profiling and mistreatment by law enforcement.

I still feel compelled to refer folks to a previous article and post arguing that this sort of treatment is unacceptable, whether the person on the receiving end is "respectable" or not in the eyes of folks within this larger American society. Everyone is entitled to due process, and should be completely free from the nonsensical profiling and brutality that too often passes for policing with Black and brown communities.

This madness has to end!  And only we can make that happen!



This is Not New: Pastors, Activists and Everyday People All Fed Up with Ferguson and St. Louis Racism

Interesting discussion from Democracy Now on Tuesday. This is an old pattern and problem, but - fortunately - new and younger people are now beginning to understand more clearly the ugly persistence of white racism and state-sanctioned oppression of Black people.

Ferguson is the most recent and most naked example, between the actual execution of Michael Brown and the subsequent (and continuing) state occupation of the Black community in Ferguson, but be clear that there are many "Ferguson" communities all around the country that must get our attention.

Broken into 4 separate segments...

  1. Pastor: In Ferguson Police Crackdown, I Need a Gas Mask More Than My Clerical Collar (approx. 15 min.)
  2. Activist: For a New Generation, Ferguson Marks Historic Nonviolent Resistance to Police Repression (approx. 10 min.)
  3. St. Louis Activist: Decades After 1968 Urban Uprisings, Key Economic & Race Issues Remain Unresolved (approx. 10 min.)
  4. "Overpoliced & Underprotected": In Michael Brown Killing, Neglect of Black Communities Laid Bare (approx. 3 min.)

Segment #1:  Pastor: In Ferguson Police Crackdown, I Need a Gas Mask More Than My Clerical Collar

We go to the streets of Ferguson to speak with Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, a pastor from the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, who was dispatched to Missouri by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. "It is a tragedy that as a clergyperson I need a tear gas mask more than I need a collar to be able to do the work that I feel called to do," Sekou says.

Approximately 15 minutes

Segment #2:  Activist: For a New Generation, Ferguson Marks Historic Nonviolent Resistance to Police Repression

As protests continue in Ferguson, activists are traveling to Missouri to join the movement in solidarity. We speak with one activist who has just arrived to Ferguson from Florida, Phillip Agnew, the executive director of Dream Defenders, a network of youth of color and their allies who engage in nonviolent civil disobedience and civic engagement to bring about social change. "I came here to be part of resistance," Agnew says. "We have not seen a reaction of nonviolent civil disobedience [to] officers of the state like this in my lifetime." Agnew helped organize protests to the 2012 shooting of unarmed, African-American teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

Approximately 10 minutes

Segment #3:  St. Louis Activist: Decades After 1968 Urban Uprisings, Key Economic & Race Issues Remain Unresolved

The upheaval in Ferguson, Missouri, has called to mind the racial divisions that split open in the 1960s with a series of uprisings in cities across the country. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson established what became known as the Kerner Commission to investigate the causes of the unrest. In February 1968, the commission famously concluded: "Our nation is moving toward two societies — one black, one white — separate and unequal." Just a month later, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked uprisings in more than 100 cities across the United States, including Kansas City, Missouri, where the National Guard was deployed and at least five people were killed. We speak with Jamala Rogers, who was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and witnessed the 1968 uprisings. She recently did a commentary for St. Louis Public Radio titled "Kerner Commission Warning Comes True — Two Societies, Separate and Unequal." Rogers is a founder and past chair of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis, Missouri. She joins us from the streets in Ferguson.

Approximately 10 minutes

Segment #4:  "Overpoliced & Underprotected": In Michael Brown Killing, Neglect of Black Communities Laid Bare

As we continue to discuss the developments since the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer, we turn to john a. powell, professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. "The black community tends be overpoliced and underprotected," powell says. "That’s a very serious problem."

Approximately 13 minutes


Heartfelt and Emotional Letter from Trayvon Martin’s Mother, Sybrina Fulton, to the Brown Family #Ferguson

In the midst of the continuing journey of African / African American people in this country, our job - our responsibility - is to remember the individuals whose lives have been snatched away from us, and support the families who have been most directly impacted by this institutional violence.

We remember by keeping their stories alive, by telling the stories that affirm their (and our) humanity, and by fighting unceasingly for justice.

And as we continue to fight, we have to remain mindful of the reality that these incidents and tragedies are not isolated. They form and continue a pattern of abuse and terror inflicted on our children and families over many generations.

In the spirit of remembering, and as an example of our interconnected struggle, I encourage all to read the letter written by Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, to the Brown Family. A brief excerpt follows, and the full letter can be read at

I hate that you and your family must join this exclusive yet growing group of parents and relatives who have lost loved ones to senseless gun violence. Of particular concern is that so many of these gun violence cases involve children far too young. But Michael is much more than a police/gun violence case; Michael is your son. A son that barely had a chance to live. Our children are our future so whenever any of our children – black, white, brown, yellow, or red – are taken from us unnecessarily, it causes a never-ending pain that is unlike anything I could have imagined experiencing.


But know this: neither of their lives shall be in vain. The galvanizations of our communities must be continued beyond the tragedies. While we fight injustice, we will also hold ourselves to an appropriate level of intelligent advocacy. If they refuse to hear us, we will make them feel us. Some will mistake that last statement as being negatively provocative. But feeling us means feeling our pain; imagining our plight as parents of slain children. We will no longer be ignored. We will bond, continue our fights for justice, and make them remember our children in an appropriate light. I would hate to think that our lawmakers and leaders would need to lose a child before protecting the rest of them and making the necessary changes NOW…