On Friday, June 5, a group of people gathered outside in the small business district on 29th and Johnson Street NE to “celebrate and mourn the murder of George Floyd,” explained Jacob Virden. The protest was organized by a group of Northeast community members with the support of Virden’s Money Power Land Solidarity podcast.
Virden said, “We marched to the home of Brian Rice, lobbyist and lawyer for the Minneapolis Police Federation. It’s important to call out the racist thuggery of police union president Bob Kroll and we must also point to the role of people like Brian Rice and his firm Rice, Michels & Walther in upholding white supremacy and police murder through legal and political means. We are calling on the Minneapolis Park and Rec Board to cancel their contract with Mr. Rice and his firm until they stop offering legal support to killer cops.”
The protest was peaceful and included a diverse group of people, in race, ethnicity and age. Many events today are promoted through social media; this one was not. “We organized through word of mouth because we wanted to activate our family and friends and our organic community. We appreciate social media as a tool, but also know we need to commit to this work beyond spectacle and performance,” said Virden.
Heather Koop, who lives nearby, was asked her initial reaction when she saw the protest down her street.
“I assumed it had something to do with Mr. Floyd’s death but I didn’t understand why it was at the end of my block. I didn’t realize that Brian Rice lived in that house, and now it all makes perfect sense.”
How do you feel about what’s going on in Minneapolis and the George Floyd case?
“Like so many people, I am overwhelmed with emotion. It was such a brutal, senseless killing but it’s not out of the ordinary. The Minneapolis Police Federation has a long storied history of abuse particularly in minority communities. I’m a long time advocate for reform of the Minneapolis Police Federation. The way the Mayor, the City Council and police interact with one another. Minneapolis is a great place to live. I love it here. I love my neighborhood, I love my neighbors, I love everything about it and it was heartbreaking to see in such stark terms how difficult life is for so many of our brothers and sisters. And I know that intellectually but to see that in action is really, like I said, overwhelming.
“Things have to change, we have to make systematic reforms now and it’s not just a band-aid, this or that, it’s not just bringing food to a place and helping the people get fed. It’s about complete and utter reform from the ground up. That’s voting rights, that’s housing, it’s medical care, it’s everything to make this a more just and equatable society. It’s about climate change-it’s all interwoven. You see in any kind of analytics the way in which minority populations fair in this society is not good. And why would you not be outraged? We should all be outraged!”
Below: Demonstrators, and Heather Koop. (Photos by Mike Madison