Jordan One Year Later: What's Different, What's the Same

A City Pages Roundtable

Johnson Lee: One of the things is that a lot of these officers, they come from the suburbs. So what happens is they come with the stereotype of how it is to live in the city. When I had what I call my police inauguration [the police federation called for Johnson Lee's resignation after she called for remembrance of Martha Donald, the black woman who shot Minneapolis Police Officer Melissa Schmidt], most of the calls I got were from the families of officers who live in the suburbs. And some of the comments that they made--literally, I invited them to come to the city. I said I'll go with you; we can walk through the neighborhoods and you can see that we're not a bunch of barbarians, you know. It was so dominated by race.

Gross: It is a multifaceted situation, yes. There are economic issues, there are justice issues. But the bottom line is the melee jumped off because of a police incident. I was up there all that night and--

Ron Ryan: Or was it a drug incident followed by a police incident?

Gross: Well, it was something that involved the police, okay?

Ryan: Yeah, but they were there on a warrant. I have to say that it's probably not fair for Tim that I've been invited here, because I'm not part of the police department. My biases or thoughts or whatever come from the other side of the river and 35 years with the police department over there. The sad thing is, all the things you're talking about, they talked about 30 years ago. It hasn't changed. A year ago I got a call to a shooting because our people were involved, at James and Broadway. There was a Minneapolis copper and a St. Paul copper who were working out of the gang strike force, doing a saturation thing. As they come around a corner, they get some guy--it looks like a grade B movie--with an automatic [held] sideways, shooting. There's shell casings all over, and whoops: There just happen to be two coppers in there. And thank God nobody got hit. My guys got into it, they got out, ended up shooting the car because they couldn't get him and they ran.

It was one of the more bizarre things I've ever been involved in. I came there, and the crime lab people came there and were putting the little things on the road where all the shell casings are, and someone says there's a house over here with shots in through the house. So we go in and there's an Asian family, and there were like three bullet holes. A couple of Minneapolis coppers point out that across the street is right where Kevin Brewer was killed.

And I walked up the street, and half of the people were so pissed off at police, and the others were pissed off that police weren't doing enough. There was a lady on this side who was angry because this jerk was shooting over her little kids. And the other people are screaming, "What do you people think you're doing?" And it was just bizarre to me, that you got all this emotion. And it could have been what we've been having with Tyesha and the other little kid, because there were two kids sitting there and the bullets went through and ended up killing a TV. But I can imagine it's frustrating for you folks because, like I said, this is no different than what I heard 30 years ago.

From my perspective, getting back to what I do for a living, if bad people are killing our children, you just kick ass until you get those bad people out of there.

Gross: But you don't kick the ass of the people who aren't doing anything but just living there.

Ryan: How do you select? We do a big thing with our intel system with photographs. We solve crimes. We solved a crime over in Brooklyn Park. They came to us, and they had a nickname and a car. Because of our intel system, within two minutes we were able to solve the crime. And along with that are photos. We do a thing in the Asian community, maybe it's because they're younger gang members, where we will go to events with cameras. We say, "Hey, we'd like to take your picture, you're throwing gang signs." We give them one and we keep one and put it in our system. They are so important in law enforcement.

And I'm sorry. I live in the city, and I remember the time when I lived near a little park, and all the dopers are hanging out in our park, and I got tired of it so I finally said, "We'll go there." Well, guess who the first complainer was? My neighbor, whose lily-white little daughter was down there and she got stopped and they went through her purse. All of a sudden all the police are jerks. And I said, "Well, you were the people that were complaining about all the dopers here." So you're not gonna make all people happy, but if you're gonna get rid of the undesirables, you gotta kick ass.

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