At least three prominent Democrats will be running for the north Minneapolis city council seat in 2017.
Alongside them, a fourth figure will undoubtedly loom: The ghost of Jamar Clark.
Sitting Ward 5 City Council Member Blong Yang, a freshman in that seat, faced criticism for his handling of the Fourth Precinct police station occupation, with some North Side activists accusing Yang of siding too closely with the police department.
It was Yang who, last December, attempted to tack on a last-minute $605,000 "fortification" expenditure for the police station, which had by then been the site of several weeks of camped-out protests. Dozens of north Minneapolis residents turned up to criticize Yang's amendment. (Ultimately, the proposal was never even brought up for a vote.)
Two of those same people are now challenging Yang for his council spot: Raiesha Williams, an activist and the spokeswoman for the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, who announced her bid to represent north Minneapolis early this fall.
The second is Jeremiah Bey Ellison, son of DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. When Jeremiah approached the microphone to speak the night of its budget vote, the young man turned his back to the members, and instead addressed his words to the audience.
And if you thought that was provocative, get a load of what he said (via MinnPost):
"I know a lot of people on the council. I've met a lot of people on the council. But one thing I've learned is as nice as a nice handshake is, someone will shake your hand, kiss your baby and slit your throat at the same time."
Ellison had already become a noted activist following the police shooting death of Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old black man killed in north Minneapolis. A Star Tribune photo taken during a nighttime clash between police and protesters depicted Ellison, hands raised, while a cop aimed a non-lethal weapon at him and other protesters.
The photo was widely shared around the internet.
Ellison is an "artist and organizer" and writes on his campaign biography page that he "painted [his] first mural at age 8 on the corner of Plymouth and Dupont" in north Minneapolis.
Ellison cites "workers' rights," environmental issues and food access as priorities he wants to address. On violence and policing, he writes: "We need to address the root causes of youth violence. We need to tip the scales of power between the publicly funded, uniformly trained police force and the racially + economically diverse, collective of individuals that make up a neighborhood."
Jeremiah's just the latest Ellison trying to break into the politics-and-policy game: His dad is in line to become the next head of the Democratic National Committee, and his mother, Keith Ellison's ex-wife Kim, is an at-large member of the Minneapolis School Board.
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