Please Disturb Us (and the Mall of America drop the charges against demonstration organizers this week)

Shortly before Christmas, organizers of a group protesting the treatment of black men scheduled a demonstration at the local monument to consumption: The Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. The Mall is private property and authorities said no to the request to demonstrate inside. Demonstrators said they would demonstrate there anyway to bring attention to their cause.

Authorities tried to use the threat of force and mass arrests to deter the demonstrators. Sandra Johnson, Bloomington city attorney, threatened charges of disorderly conduct, trespassing and even inciting a riot for orchestrating a peaceful demonstration meaningful to everyone. That made matters worse.

Between 2,000 and 3,000 people gathered in the mall’s rotunda and sang songs and chanted slogans. Twenty-five people were arrested by police in riot gear.

After the demonstration, the Bloomington city attorney—with an advanced degree in over-reaction–continued to talk tough: “You want to get at the ringleaders,” she said threatening to use social media to identify the leaders so they could be prosecuted. I thought: “Good luck with that.” She also wants to force demonstration leaders to pay for police overtime and the business losses to Mall establishments.

Johnson comes off as a prosecutor who sees life’s choices as either/or, black/white and right/wrong with non-conforming citizens as enemies to demonize and dehumanize and force into compliance instead of seeing life as it is with shades of gray, of both/and thinking and with people as human beings to respect and involve. People who use power to mindlessly force order and conformity scare me far more than demonstrators for justice do.

Sometimes power and force are necessary. Sometimes demonstrators should be arrested and charged—but not as an automatic default response without creative thoughtfulness. In this case, a more creative win/win approach might have worked better, felt better, and built community instead of fragmenting groups. But the either/or of win/lose is always easier than the both/and of win/win.

The status quo of America—how police treat black men is part of the status quo–is not sustainable and trying to return to a romanticized past, as some want to do, is suicidal. Our nation must embrace a wiser, more evolved and inclusive vision for the future if we want a vibrant country for future generations.

A significant percentage of Americans sleepwalk through life. They mindlessly rush through the day unaware of the many serious issues that harm people. While they nap, America declines. The good people who have gone to sleep need to be aggravated and awakened—even if their shopping gets disrupted for an hour or two.

We might not think the treatment of black men by police officers is our issue. Take a moment to read Charles Blow’s painful and powerful piece in the January 12, 2015 New York Times about the shooting and death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by police officers in Cleveland, Ohio recently. The callous disregard for the humanity of this child and his sister is immoral and is everyone’s responsibility.

We need a perspective on demonstrations and demonstrators that is broader and deeper, wiser and more insightful and more appreciative of those courageous and conscious people who care enough to give of themselves to fight injustice in whatever form it takes: racism, poverty, inequality, civil rights, immigration, or climate change. An assault on human dignity, in whatever form, is an attack on each of us and all should join in and speak up against such actions—not try to silent the voices of justice.

I hope the primary election process for 2015-2016 will be a season of peaceful protests by Americans young and old that awaken our awareness. I hope we understand that justice towers in importance over the demand for rigid and blind order and conformity and the suppression of free speech. I hope that authorities will learn and experiment with new ways to manage demonstrations. I hope people who have gone to sleep will be disturbed enough to wake up and vote for candidates and issues that improve life for all of us, not just a few of us

When demonstrators disturb us and offend our views, we should examine our views.

Summer in Minneapolis

(Click to enlarge)

Stone Arch Bridge

Stone Arch Bridge

An art fair in nearby Stillwater.

An art fair in nearby Stillwater.

Music on the Stone Arch Bridge.

Music on the Stone Arch Bridge.

Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

Loring Park

Loring Park

Lake of the Isles

Lake of the Isles

Minneapolis skyline from Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun.

Minneapolis skyline from Thomas Beach on Lake Calhoun.

Minneapolis Skyline from Lake of the Isles.

Minneapolis Skyline from Lake of the Isles.

Sunday morning pancake in Loring Park.

Sunday morning pancake in Loring Park.

Swimming at Lake Calhoun.

Swimming at Lake Calhoun.

Gopher football at the end of summer.

Gopher football at the end of summer.

Minnesota Photos

(Click to enlarge)

My favorite photo.

My favorite photo.

A nesting Loon in Northern Minnesota

A nesting Loon in Northern Minnesota

A Great Gray Owl near the Canadian Border.

A Great Gray Owl near the Canadian Border.

Black Bear near Grand Marais, MN

Black Bear near Grand Marais, MN

Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal

I call it "the universe."

I call it “the universe.”

The moon and the planet Venus from the front yard.

The moon and the planet Venus from the front yard.

Summer sky.

Summer sky.

Young bald eagle

Young bald eagle

Fawn along the Red River

Fawn along the Red River

Loon on Lake Lizzy

Loon on Lake Lizzy

 

Art on the Lake

Melanie and I recently went to the Excelsior Art Fair.

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13ps

For those of you not familiar, Excelsior, Minnesota is a quaint lakefront town of about 2,400 people on the shores of Lake Minnetonka about 20 miles west of Minneapolis.

Parking can be a problem in Excelsior so we arrived about 60 minutes before the 10am opening.

We had time to eat so off it was to a great new restaurant in town:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 004ps

Mindful that I was a serious calorie counter,  I decided on a low-cal breakfast:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 006ps

THAT WAS GOOD!

I’m going to Lago Tacos again.

Fortified, we headed down the street to the art fair. The Port of Excelsior is a great place: lake, park, fishing, swimming, boat rides and enjoying a nice day:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 002ps

Hey! The Art Fair is behind you!

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 010ps

I thought long and hard on our first stop:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 047ps

I really wanted that pig for the front yard but, in the end, I decided to wait for an Elvis statue.

Lots of butt shots at an art fair:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 020ps

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 029ps

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 075ps

My favorite places:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 056ps

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 088ps

The big picture of the art fair:

Excelsior Art Fairps1

FEED ME!

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 050ps

I’m all for moral:

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 052ps

I used to work here. When I quit, the CEO said my leadership had changed the company forever. The next thing I knew, they went bankrupt. Nothing is forever.

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 080

Well, we are getting tired. Should I go to the bathroom before we head home?

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13 079

NO WAY!

Balloon creation looks like the last boss I had.

Excelsior Art Fair 6.8.13balloonsps

We had a nice time. Next week it is the Stone Arch Bridge Art Festival.

See you there!