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

A City Pages Roundtable

CP:Is there a third point?

Sameuls:The whole issue of diversity. This is such a diverse community now. And it is a challenge for Minneapolis. Because all of our systems are based on homogeneity, all of the structures. It is not just the police force, it is our sensibilities. I said to the chief last year when I was at the police awards, "You need to give a new award for the police officer who most successfully demonstrates a sensibility toward the diversity of the city. We need to do things now to acknowledge our diversity and make it part of our rich way of life. And that includes the arts, so when you go to the downtown arts fair it doesn't look like Whitesville. We need to walk around and look at what looks too white, okay? And say, "This does not look like Minneapolis. What can we do to engage all of our communities and bring them into this experience so that we all share the best of what we have?"

CP:What has surprised you since you were elected to the council? Now that you're on the inside and have seen the way the inside works, what has struck you about that experience?

Samuels: I am amazed at the priorities, that they are not centered on the greatest pain. I understand that priorities can be centered around the greatest opportunity. And I understand that if you are running short of money you have to decide between buying deodorant and medicine. And if you just buy one and not the other, well, you might have friends but you might be sick, or you might be healthy but you don't have any friends. So there is always a struggle: Do we build a big library downtown, or address the violence here? But I am amazed at the imbalance of that focus. I am amazed at the disparity, that we spend so much on deodorant and not enough on medicine.


Jordan Timeline

BY G.R. ANDERSON JR.

December 5, 2001: Minneapolis police officer George Peltz's gun accidentally goes off in a scuffle with a 16-year-old boy near reported drug dealing at 4th Street and 31st Avenue North. The boy is treated for a gunshot wound in the buttocks and released.

December 22, 2001: Minneapolis police increase the reward, from $50,000 to $150,000, for any information leading to finding the killer of Kevin Brewer, an 11-year-old shot by a stray bullet in Cottage Park, on the city's north side, in August 2000. Despite the reward and a billboard campaign asking for witnesses to step forward, the murder remains unsolved.

December 31, 2001: Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson announces the city's homicide rate, at 41 for the year, is the lowest since there were 32 murders in 1985.

January 7, 2002: The Star Tribune reports that the city of Minneapolis prevailed in 41 of 50 cases of alleged police wrongdoing from mid-1995 to 2000.

March 10, 2002: Minneapolis police kill a mentally ill Somali man who is wielding a machete on Chicago Avenue near Franklin Avenue in south Minneapolis on a Sunday afternoon. The killing of Abu Jeilani, 28, sparks outrage and protests from Somalis and other minorities, who claim police reacted hastily and brutally.

March 20, 2002: Chief Olson and Somali activist Omar Jamal hold a press conference, vowing to work together on issues between the police and Somalis.

March 22, 2002: Four hundred people gather in remembrance at the site where Abu Jeilani was shot. The rally raises more than $1,000 for Jeilani's widow and their two young children.

April 10, 2002: Mayor Rybak, Chief Olson, and six City Council members promise to review police policy on appropriate "use of force," after many question police behavior in the Jeilani shooting, a riot in Dinkytown after the Gopher men's hockey championship victory, and a bike protest.

April 15, 2002: Mayor Rybak tries--and fails--to oust Olson and buy him out of his contract.

June 20, 2002: A Hennepin County grand jury clears six officers of any wrongdoing in the Abu Jeilani death.

June 21, 2002: Citing a high percentage of gangs involved in the city's 21 homicides to date, Chief Olson announces plans to revive some anti-gang initiatives on the police force.

July 28, 2002: The Star Tribune reports that the U.S. Department of Justice has been taking a preliminary look at the Minneapolis Police Department's record on brutality and racial profiling for more than a year. The justice department reveals that it had been asked by Somali and African American leaders to provide mediation between the city, police, and communities of color in February.

August 1, 2002: Officer Melissa Schmidt and 60-year-old Martha Donald shoot and kill each other in a gunfight in the restroom of a south Minneapolis public high-rise. Schmidt, who knew Donald and responded to an emergency call that Donald was drunk and distressed at Horn Towers, is the first Minneapolis police officer killed on duty since Jerry Haaf was shot in 1992.

August 8, 2002: The Minneapolis Police Federation, the union that represents Minneapolis police officers, calls for the resignation of council member Natalie Johnson Lee after she issued a letter memorializing Schmidt and Donald. Johnson Lee, at the time the only city leader of color, is accused of sympathizing with a cop killer.

August 13, 2002: Minneapolis police shoot and wound 19-year-old Terrelle Oliver in the 2200 block of James Avenue North after he allegedly points a gun toward an officer.

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