Steve Elkins' Riot "Analysis" is 55 Years Out of Touch

Steve_Elkins.jpgIn a recent email to constituents, Steve Elkins wrote that “the protests inspired by the murder of George Floyd” in south Minneapolis reminded him of the eruption of violence 55 years ago in California that some now call the 1965 “Watts Rebellion.” The DFL House District 49B representative wrote that the destruction of the Watts business community was to the detriment of the entire community for a generation.

Yet nothing in his email seeks to find out who took advantage of the peaceful protests to go on a rampage of destruction and looting.  The Wikipedia article Elkins referenced points out that in 1965, “Los Angeles’ African American residents were excluded from the high-paying jobs, affordable housing, and politics available to white residents.” If any of that is true today in Minneapolis, why haven’t a long line of DFL Attorney Generals addressed these discriminatory acts?

Rather, Mr. Elkins promises to “address the exclusionary zoning practices of some Twin Cities suburban communities.” He identifies neither the communities nor the zoning practices. Is Mr. Elkins using the recent riots to push for denser development and greater urbanization?

Nowhere in Mr. Elkins’ email is a call for an investigation of the lack of action by city and state officials to swiftly get control of the situation. Less than two days after the initial incident in Watts, Los Angeles had about 2,300 National Guardsmen deployed. We didn’t see the National Guard called out in Minneapolis until a full three days after the rioting began. How effective were our city and state leaders who stated that they didn’t want to arrest anyone; they just wanted everyone to go home! 

How ironic that Mayor Frey wants the federal government to pay for the damage that his own inaction helped to sustain.

We want to know if it was truly residents of the south Minneapolis community who felt the need to break into pharmacies, steal from grocery and liquor stores, and burn down a new affordable housing project. Mr Elkins should ask that at least the addresses of all of the people arrested for looting, property damage, and arson be publicized.

Mr Elkins is calling for action to address justice issues in a state with a black DFL Attorney General and to increase accountability and transparency within a police force command by a black police chief. If they have seen issues that needed addressing in Minneapolis and St. Paul, who stood in their way?

When President Trump encountered issues of accountability and transparency within the Veterans Administration, he moved quickly to empower his senior department heads to fire bad actors. Why not give Police Chief Medaria Arradondo the green light to fire anyone in the police department incapable of doing their duties? It makes far more sense to fire incompetent cops than to disband the entire police department.

And while we are at it, let’s also give that removal power to the head of the Minnesota Department of Human Services.