NOC is demanding justice after the arrest of civic and political engagement director Wintana Melekin and field organizer Navell Gordon at Cub Foods on Broadway Avenue Thursday night.
Navell was arrested for talking to interested community members about our Voting Rights campaign in the parking lot. Before arresting him, the police officer tackled him violently to the ground, although he had his hands up. The police officer told the unarmed female community members to get back in their car or he would shoot. Wintana was subsequently arrested for asking questions of the arresting officer.
Video of Wintana's arrest:
"At NOC, our members are continuously harassed by the MPD, and I've often witnessed the police abusing their power to harass black people," said Wintana. "Now it's personal. We can't let MPD intimidate or harass us anymore, especially when they're threatening our voting rights."
Allies in City Hall are working to get all charges against Wintana and Navell dropped. But whether Wintana and Navell ultimately face charges or not, it is clear that the Minneapolis Police are purposefully creating a culture of harassment and intimidation of African-Americans.
Last month, a young African-American woman was arrested at a Ferguson solidarity vigil
outside the 4th precinct police station, ostensibly for jaywalking. The charges were later dropped. Navell was nearly arrested earlier this year outside the NOC office, allegedly for spitting in public, but the MPD backed off when other NOC members came out to film the interaction. Last year, MPD identified another NOC canvasser as a "suspicious person" while canvassing, arrested him, and held him in jail for a whole weekend. After public pressure, the charges were ultimately dropped.
We will not tolerate this atmosphere of intimidation and harassment. We deserve to feel safe in our communities, especially from the uniformed officers who receive our tax dollars to protect and serve us.
It's time for the Minneapolis Police Department to start being accountable to our community. NOC will not stand for our staff, or anyone in our community, being abused by the police.
"The arrests of NOC canvassers at Cub Foods amplify the urgency of mending police/community relations in Minneapolis," said civil rights attorney and St. Thomas law professor Nekima Levy-Pounds. "This incident further erodes trust between police officers and community members in North Minneapolis. African American residents have been raising concerns for years about issues such as racial profiling, negative encounters with police officers, and the need for more police accountability. If we do not want the Twin Cities to become another Ferguson, we must begin to take these matters seriously and make changes immediately."
NOC will hold an emergency community response meeting Monday at 5:30 pm. RSVP here.
NOC field organizer DeAngelo pledging people to vote at Ferguson solidarity rally.