The October 4, 2018 Make It Real art exhibit and public discussion at New Rules in North Minneapolis featured D. A. Bullock, Devika Ghai, Roxanne O’Brien, and her daughter Oya. They spoke about imaging a police-free future and wove that vision into their own personal stories and activism. In Part 1 we learned that human communities have been founded on a social contract established at the beginning of civilization, if not prior. We also heard a story about how the Minneapolis Police routinely violate that contract in a neighborhood over North. Then closed out the first piece with the story of how the Hennepin County Sheriff works with ICE to deport immigrants. Undoubtedly the rendition of people to ICE by former Sheriff Stanek’s department was a big part of why he lost re-election in 2018. Taken together, the stories in Part 1 clearly depict how police tend to violate the long-established contract at the base of human community. The emotional narratives in the opening clip sustain our social contract. Still, we will not go down.
Devika was at Make It Real to represent Release Minnesota 8, a local group that formed to prevent the deportation of 8 Cambodian men in 2016 after they had been detained by ICE. The group was partly successful. Four of the men have been deported, 3 released, and 1 remains in detention. Ghai tied their story to the theme of a police-free future by highlighting the “sloppy kiss” relationship of local police (Hennepin County Sheriff) with ICE that results in people picked up for minor offenses being turned over for deportation, even if they are not charged or are found innocent. This hand-and-glove relationship between local cops and national ICE is at odds with the concept of a Sanctuary City – as Minneapolis has declared itself- yet the City and County officials have done nothing to stop it. To be clear, the issue goes well beyond the Minnesota Eight. The Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee will assure you of that fact.
Roxanne O’Brien has been working for social justice in our community for many years. When the mainstream media reports these stories the emphasis is usually on the immediate story. Protests, rallies, marches, and maybe a snapshot of the issue that brought activists to the streets. The free-form MPD 150 Make It Real panel discussion provided a platform for Roxanne to go deeper into the story. In The Children of Retribution, O’Brien and her daughter, Oya, tell us about the harassment inflicted on their family by Minneapolis Police as retribution for her speaking out on local TV and in the streets. Pay attention to Oya when she tells the story of an MPD officer lurking outside her window at 1:21 AM for no apparent reason. Listen when she tells us of the lame excuse the cop gives for invading their privacy. What would you do if you found police peeping into your child’s bedroom? Would it make you feel safer? How many times do you think MPD sends out officers in the wee hours of the morning to look for a lost dog? Seriously, if they have time to investigate missing pets, it hardly suggests that they are overworked and scrambling to respond to emergencies. But let’s not get caught up in the BS excuses of the harassers. Instead, stay focused on the blatant attempt to bully Roxanne into silence. This is how police operate. This is what they do. Some of us do not want to admit it, but there it is.
Part 2 closes with Trick Knowlogy by D.A. Bullock. He introduced the term “tricknology” as a short cut for the many ways we have been tricked into believing that police are in our communities to keep us safe and prevent crime in your neighborhood. I’ve slightly modified the spelling and split it into 2 words to underscore that the knowledge Bullock imparted about the trickery of police is critical to sustaining the social contract that underpins human cultures. Devika’s story about the detention and deportation of the Minnesota Eight is a clear example of tricknology. The Hennepin County Sheriff and ICE have tricked us into believing that these organizations work for the benefit of our community by targeting our neighbors and removing them from our communities. They want us to believe that harsh enforcement of immigration laws is the best way to make our nation safer and protect us from those they claim will ruin what we have already built. That is a lie. Immigrants have been, are, and will be a source of strength, wisdom, and insight by which our communities and our civilization sustains and grows. Immigrants, along with Natives and the descendants of slaves, are this nation. From the individual MPD officer trying to trick Roxanne and Oya into believing that their open gate was an invitation to look for a mythical little white dog, to the institutional lie that the police exist to serve and protect our communities, The Children of Retribution is a story of tricknology in action. Thanks to organizations like MPD 150 we have been given an opportunity to see through those tricks and lies.