Since early February, Black Lives Matter St. Paul had planned a “nonviolent shut down action” at the Crashed Ice competition to demand the dismissal of city fire Sgt. Jeffrey Rothecker, who encouraged drivers to run over Black Lives Matter protesters in an online post.
But last Friday, organizers announced they had canceled the protest. Jeff Rothecker has resigned, and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman released plans for legislative action surrounding racial equity and improved community-police relations after several meetings with Black Lives Matter protesters.
The cooperation between community members and local government leaders on matters of racial justice differs markedly from how the city of Minneapolis has responded to Black Lives Matter demands.
In the fall, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges suffered heavy criticism from both protesters and police officers regarding her handling of persistent demonstrations at the Fourth Precinct. Her lack of communication even led to the hashtag #WheresBetsy trending on Twitter and other social media.
We commend both Black Lives Matter St. Paul members for cancelling their protest and Mayor Coleman for effectively responding to the group’s demands, honoring protest conditions and developing steps to move forward.
Effective governing must include open lines of communication between community members and those in power in order to create policy solutions that work for both the government and the governed. In order for the Twin Cities to develop better racial equity, Minneapolis leaders need to follow in St. Paul’s footsteps.