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Photo: American Indian Movement
Photo: American Indian Movement

Minneapolis’ Native American community gets in on the city’s police reform debates

Minneapolis city council unanimously voted on police reform last Friday, and some indigenous organizations have propositions.

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Questions keep swirling throughout the country about police reform. 

What does it look like, and what proposals and  changes need to occur? 

With a toxic history of police brutality in Minneapolis, it is no surprise that indigenous organizations alike have thought about reform as well. 

Ideas around neighborhood-based public safety have long been talked about, but now Native American organizations like AIM Patrol, First Nations United, the Little Earth Patrol, and the NAACP’s Minnesota Freedom Riders are imagining a community without police- but still holding people accountable for their actions without brutality.

Native Americans are no stranger to oppression, and have repeatedly been pushed out of their communities by colonizers. They know a lot about fighting the very skewed system. 

In Minneapolis, a group of them fed up about multiple occurrences of police violence and brutality, created an organization in 1968 called the American Indian Movement (AIM). 

AIM then became the organizational leaders of the red power movement, originally created to fight police violence, but later became known for seeking justice from the government.

Now, they are again seeking justice from the government, demanding reform for law enforcement, with their own set of ideas and propositions. AIM even has its own reform that has implemented itself. 

What the organization calls AIM Patrol is a group of people who walk the streets, deter both police and intra-community violence by intervening or simply bearing witness to make accountability possible. They can also be called upon to safely escort women, elders, or others who don’t feel safe moving through the neighborhood alone. Patrol duties now include cooking hot breakfasts for the homeless and checking on overlooked neighbors.

Mike Forcia, a member of AIM that has worked with them since the organization's beginning, said they take a more personal approach instead of current law enforcement’s violence one. 

“You do it with kindness and generosity, but you always have to be alert,” Forcia noted. 

Organizations from the black community like Reclaim the Block who advocate abolishing the police have also supported the initiative to replace the police with AIM.

With different organizations from different communities speaking out and helping each other in a fight that has been a long time coming, there is a lot to look forward to when it comes to people doing their part, seeking, and supporting one another for a more equal, less violent nation.

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