How Minneapolis, One of America’s Most Liberal Cities, Struggles With Racism
MINNEAPOLIS — Residents of Minneapolis swell with pride over their city’s sparkling lakes, glassy downtown, beautifully kept green spaces and bicycle friendliness that draws comparisons to Copenhagen. They see themselves as public spirited, embracing of multiculturalism and inspired by Minnesota’s liberal icons, Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale and Paul Wellstone.
明尼阿波利斯市——明尼阿波利斯市的居民对城内波光粼粼的湖泊、玻璃高楼林立的市中心、美丽的绿地和方便自行车出行的交通而感到自豪，这些都可以同哥本哈根相媲美。他们觉得自己具有公共精神，信奉多元文化主义，并受到明尼苏达州自由派偶像休伯特·汉弗莱(Hubert Humphrey)、沃尔特·蒙代尔(Walter Mondale)和保罗·威尔斯通(Paul Wellstone)的启迪。
The Minneapolis City Council, made up of 12 Democrats and a member of the Green Party, includes two transgender members, both of whom are black. The city has for years held a popular community celebration and parade for Juneteenth, commemorating the end of slavery.
But there remains an extraordinary racial gap for Minnesotans when it comes to education outcomes and health care. Black families own their homes at far lower rates than white families, among the largest such disparity in the country. And the city’s predominantly white police force, which has been accused of racist practices for decades, rarely disciplines officers with troubled records.
“Minneapolis has ridden this reputation of being progressive,” said Robert Lilligren, who became the first Native American elected to the City Council in 2001. “That’s the vibe: Do something superficial and feel like you did something big. Create a civil rights commission, create a civilian review board for the police, but don’t give them the authority to change the policies and change the system.”
Events of several long days and nights, as Minneapolis was rocked by protests, destruction and overwhelming police crackdowns, were forcing a reckoning over the city’s complicated identity.
Markers of sophistication in the city of 430,000 people draw newcomers: an enviable landscape of food, arts and public radio, a robust business and philanthropic community, and a growing diversity boosted by immigrants from East Africa and Asia. From one angle, Minneapolis has been booming, a Midwestern magnet for transplants seeking job opportunities and culture.
With a range of industries including health care, agriculture and finance, residents are immensely proud of their distinction as one of the cities with the most Fortune 500 companies per capita.
Minneapolis residents view themselves as welcoming; the state took in nearly 110,000 refugees from 1979 to 2018, a resettlement effort that is largely the work of Lutheran and Catholic social services agencies. Minnesota remains a solidly purple state where Hillary Clinton edged Donald J. Trump by 1.5 percentage points in the presidential election of 2016, and the Twin Cities are surrounded by many conservative suburbs.
明尼阿波利斯的居民认为自己是乐于接纳的：从1979年至2018年，该州接收了将近11万名难民，这主要源于路德教会和天主教社会服务机构的难民安置工作。明尼苏达州仍然是一个明确的摇摆州，在2016年总统大选中，希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)领先唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)1.5个百分点，而双子城周围有许多郊区是保守派社区。
It was the city’s embrace of diversity and job opportunities that attracted Orlando DeWalt, 49, who moved to Minneapolis last year from his hometown, East St. Louis, Ill.
“All the different mixed cultures, the different foods — and it’s got a nice school system,” he said.
Mr. DeWalt, who is black, said he liked that white people stood next to black people to fight for police reform, and that when he lost his wallet in Walmart, a white man who returned it would not accept the money that Mr. DeWalt offered as a thank you.
Yet the city was also the backdrop to a horrific scene on Memorial Day, of a white police officer pressing his knee against the neck of George Floyd, a black man, for nearly nine minutes. Furious demonstrations rippled beyond Minneapolis to scores of cities across the country. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired and charged with third-degree murder.
然而，这座城市也是阵亡将士纪念日那天的骇人事件的发生地，一名白人警察用膝盖压在黑人乔治·弗洛伊德(George Floyd)的脖子上近九分钟。愤怒的游行示威蔓延至明尼阿波利斯以外，遍布全国数十个城市。涉案警察德里克·沙文(Derek Chauvin)被解雇并被指控犯有三级谋杀罪。
“The things that are great about it are great,” Betsy Hodges, a former mayor of Minneapolis, said of the city. “And it is also a city that has deep challenges, especially regarding race.” In 2016, Ms. Hodges, who is white, devoted her State of the City address to the troubling dualities of the place.
The current mayor, Jacob Frey, took office in 2018 vowing to repair ties between the police and the community after two fatal police shootings. Within a day of the death of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Frey, a civil rights lawyer who is white, quickly denounced the officers involved. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” he said. “I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level.”
Mr. Frey has also laid out plans to address Minneapolis’s lack of affordable housing, a byproduct of its growth: Since the 1990s, Minnesota has attracted a surge of immigrants from Somalia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Laos and Mexico. Minneapolis is about 60 percent white, 20 percent black, 10 percent Latino and 6 percent Asian, according to census data.
The legacy of policies discriminating against people of color has lingered.
“The racism has been around for a very, very long time,” said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “You can see it in the redlining of neighborhoods, the education system, the transportation system and, obviously, policing.”
“种族主义已经存在了很长时间，”明尼苏达大学的政治学家劳伦斯·R·雅各布斯(Lawrence R. Jacobs)说。“在银行拒贷的街区、教育系统、交通系统中都能看到，当然还有警察执法。”
Mr. Mondale, who is 92, said he had been watching the protests on television from his home in downtown Minneapolis, shocked and upset about the death of Mr. Floyd.
“It was a murder committed by a Minneapolis policeman, and three other officers are standing there watching,” he said.
Mr. Floyd’s death, and the cascading protests that followed, are especially painful in light of Mr. Mondale’s work supporting civil rights measures, he said. “I really worked really hard on that issue for 40 years, and here we are,” he said. “About where we started, I guess.”
Even lifelong residents who brag about their city say that Minneapolis’s friendly exterior masks deep-rooted problems.
It is not uncommon to hear residents say how much they love the multicultural nature of Minneapolis in one breath, but that they feel threatened because of their race, ethnicity or religion in the next.
“Racism with a smile” is how Leila Ali, 42, a Somali immigrant who has lived in Minneapolis since 1998, described it.
As another night of fiery unrest in the Minneapolis streets gave way to a cloudless, picture-perfect Saturday, hundreds of residents, brooms in hand, descended upon a Wells Fargo bank branch on the South Side that had burned the night before.
Water from the sprinkler system was flooding out of the building, and people formed channels out of mulch and used brooms to direct the water into drains. Others hauled furniture out of the building so it would not be ruined.
One resident, Peggy Madden-Olson, who is 59 years old and white, arrived at the cleanup effort with memories of a previous chapter in her city’s history fresh in her mind: In fifth grade, she had to leave her familiar, mostly white South Minneapolis neighborhood to be bused across town to school in a black neighborhood.
Before that, she said, her perceptions of African-American people had been shaped by protests and uprisings that she had seen in the media during the civil rights era. She said those images led her to imagine that black children might hit her, a notion that was quickly dispelled.
“We were friends,” she said. “We played on the playground, we went to each other’s houses. I realized that we weren’t any different, and they accepted us.”
The demonstrations ripping through her city have been an awakening for her, she said, and a realization that Minneapolis has stalled in its progress.
“Throughout my whole life I’ve considered myself not a racist and considered myself somebody who appreciates the diversity,” she said. “But I’m realizing that that is hardly enough. It’s time to get uncomfortable, it’s time to listen.”
White liberal residents of Minneapolis point to policy changes that have been praised for their progressivism. A measure in 2018 eliminated single-family zoning, long believed to have perpetuated segregation. Lawmakers voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2017, the first major Midwestern city to do so, and mandated sick leave for workers.
Yet a shift in influence and representation has been slow coming. In 2018, Minnesotans elected Representative Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American and Muslim who is the first woman of color to serve the state in Congress. And disparities in employment, poverty and education between people of color and white residents are among the worst in the nation.
“The Twin Cities pride themselves in being diverse,” said Maddie Hankard, a 24-year-old environmental engineer who is white, as she stood outside buildings damaged during Saturday’s protests. “But there’s been a whole generation not respecting communities of color.”
For Gus Cole, who is originally from Liberia but has been in Minneapolis for 13 years, being married to a white woman reminds him of both the promise and problems with his city.
He finds it to be a place where people embrace friendships across racial lines. His friends in other states usually stick with other black people, he said. But his friends in Minneapolis are black, white, Asian and Mexican, he said.
“People get along here,” he said.
At the same time, he said, when he is with his wife in the car and they get pulled over by the police, he views her with a degree of envy.
“I want to have that same feeling to how she feels,” he said. “She’s not scared. Her voice doesn’t shake. She speaks to the cop how she wants to speak to the cop. But me, I’m so afraid. I want to get pulled over and not think that I’m going to die.”
Bodunrin Banwo, a 38-year-old educator who is black, stood at the back of a crowded protest on Saturday afternoon, struggling to hear what speakers were saying through a weak megaphone.
He said Minneapolis was a pleasant place. He said he felt comfortable going on regular walks in his neighborhood, something he had not always felt when he lived in Baltimore.
To Mr. Banwo, Minneapolis is the sort of place that might set aside formal protest spaces with sound systems to accommodate crowds. Its elected officials are often participants in demonstrations.
But what has unfolded in the last week is something entirely different, he said, a wake-up call for the elected leaders.
“I don’t know if they really understand the seriousness of what has to change,” he said.