Morning Belz, July 21
I met friends for dinner in Uptown last night just as smoke from Canadian wildfires descended from the north, and by the time we said goodbye on Lake Street, the sky was a haze.
I’ve spent most of this week so far in North Minneapolis, orbiting North Commons Park, talking with people about the police. It wasn’t until the smoke from wildfires dropped on Lake Street that I got a clearer sense of something having changed in Minneapolis. Uptown feels different. I was never there often, even when I lived a few blocks away in Whittier, but I always had to admit it was a thriving place. Full of people and shops and restaurants, a place with energy just off of gorgeous Lake Calhoun. Now the streets are emptier. Windows are still boarded up. Some shops are closed indefinitely. Maybe it was just the haze, but it felt like that old energy was gone.
I drove to Karmel Square, the Somali mall, to try to get a few people on camera talking about the police. But it was Eid-al-Adha, the Islaamic celebration of Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) faithfulness as he prepared to sacrifice Isaac on the altar, so the mall was closed. It’s also undergoing a massive expansion. Across the street, more than a dozen men were sitting in black chairs in a circle off the parking lot of a little strip mall where the mosque was open, arguing vigorously. Three younger men (two truck drivers who live in Burnsville and a guy who’s lived in Minneapolis for 17 years) told me Minneapolis needs more police, that the police need our support, and that most Somalis feel this way. They had to go pray, and so did almost everyone else.
I haven’t heard any gunshots or felt the least bit unsafe. But there is a whiff of lawlessness in the city, and the riots left real scars. The pandemic and lockdowns haven’t helped. People in Minneapolis want better police. They want reform. They want racist policing to stop. But they want police. As you’ve seen before, the national data backs up the anecdotes. And it’s hard to imagine Minneapolis, a city where crime is up dramatically and three children under 10 have been killed by stray bullets this year, bucks the sentiment. Interviews with Victor Martinez and Krystel Porter, city council candidates who want the city to hire more police officers, went well. Porter is pictured above. Never heard back from Ellison. The only people I spoke with who argued explicitly for fewer police officers were white.
About: I send this email most weekdays in an effort to stay informed and in touch. I was a newspaper reporter for 14 years, most recently at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I explained why my family left Minneapolis here. Now we live just outside Chattanooga and I work on Scuffed News. Please share this newsletter with anyone you think might enjoy it. And please consider supporting this work with your money on Patreon.