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St. Paul police chief outlines plan to deal with increased gun violence

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Mara Gottfried of the Pioneer Press says, “Two cases that St. Paul officers encountered on Tuesday represent the kind of danger police face every day, but that rarely gets widespread attention, the city’s police chief told the City Council. They resulted in two guns taken off the streets and people under arrest, and came as officers are increasingly spending time responding to gun violence. …
A week after Axtell addressed the council about his first year as chief, which has included skyrocketing reports of shots fired in the city, council member Dan Bostrom asked him to come back to the council and provide more details.”

Also from Gottfried: “A 34-year-old man broke into a St. Paul police station, stole a police radio and used it to taunt a dispatcher, according to a criminal complaint filed this week. … [Jason] Phyle used the radio to speak to police dispatch. … Phyle told dispatch that he was inside Target and was wearing red and tan, the complaint said. Officers saw Phyle leaving the store with the radio and arrested him at 3:16 p.m. ‘Police noted Phyle seemed very paranoid and exhibited other indications he was high on an illegal substance,’ the complaint said. Phyle told police he snorted methamphetamine a day earlier, before he picked up his minor son.”

The Forum News Service has moredetails on that YouTube stunt-gone-wrong: “Details of the shooting were contained in a complaint filed in Norman County District Court Wednesday against the victim’s girlfriend, 19-year-old Monalisa Perez of Halstad. She was charged with second-degree manslaughter after telling authorities on Monday evening that she and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Pedro Ruiz III, were making a YouTube video when she shot him in the chest. The incident took place in Halstad, about 35 miles north of Moorhead in western Minnesota along the Red River.”

Way to go St. Paul. MPR’s Danielle Wong says: “St. Paul’s fire department said Wednesday the city has earned the highest fire protection rating in the state, and that may mean lower insurance costs for homes and businesses. Previously, Insurance Services Office, Inc. averaged fire losses over the previous five years to arrive at a rating. This time, the ISO performed a comprehensive evaluation of the city’s fire protection capabilities, which the department said included firefighting, water supplies, dispatching and community risk reduction. With the evaluation, the department says St. Paul is the first city in Minnesota to achieve a Class 2 rating.”

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Old law suits never die. Stribber Beena Raghavendran says, “The job security shielding veteran teachers makes it difficult to kick out the lousy ones, a group of parents from around Minnesota argues. Those parents are fighting to have their lawsuit against the state heard after a lower court threw it out last fall. The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Wednesday heard oral arguments in a high-stakes teacher tenure lawsuit, the third of its kind nationally.”

Further proof that somebody will steal anything. Says Euan Kerr at MPR, “The St. Paul Ballet wants people to be on the lookout for a missing dance floor it believes was stolen. The floor was stored in a customized trailer locked behind the company’s studios in the Hamline-Midway area of St. Paul when it was taken sometime Saturday night. Whoever took the floor probably doesn’t know what they have, said Zoe Henrot, the ballet’s artistic director. Dancers used it for 25 shows last year in venues such as the Landmark Center and the Mall of America.”

If you’re even thinking of trying it, don’t. Say Tim Harlow and Rochelle Olson of the Strib, “Wednesday’s commute into downtown Minneapolis was even worse than many had feared.
Express buses took hours to arrive and downtown streets were parking lots well into the day. … Carpool passengers got out around the last 30 car-lengths of the Fourth Street entrance ramp to walk to work, Zieska said. And bus drivers were letting people off after they crossed Second Avenue … . Road and light-rail work downtown appeared to be the culprit Wednesday, along with morning rain that likely compounded an already tricky downtown grid bogged down with lane closures on seemingly every street.”

Vice news does a piece on vaccines and the Somali community. Says Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani, “The misinformation tidal wave about autism started in 2008, when worried Somali parents in the state reported seeing kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at alarming rates.

These concerns made their way to Amy Hewitt, a senior research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Community Integration, who in 2013 conducted the largest-scale study ever looking into the number of Somali children with autism in any U.S. community. The results of her study were interpreted as evidence that Somalis are more likely than other kids to have autism — something Somali parents had long feared. The thing is, that wasn’t entirely true. ‘The findings of the study got misrepresented in headlines and news bites,’ Hewitt told VICE News via phone.”

Minnesota

Fartun Ahmed is first Somali-American woman elected to a school board in the country

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LAKESHORE WEEKLY — HOPKINS — Fartun Ahmed was elected to Hopkins school board Tuesday Nov. 7, making her the first Somali woman in the country to be elected to a school board and the second to be elected to public office.

She campaigned as part of a bloc with Chris LaTondresse and Jen Westmoreland-Bouchard under the message that every family in the school district should be able to access the resources they need to understand the system.

Campaigning against Steve Semler and Kevin Bennett, the bloc won the three open seats. Turnout was nearby double that of two years ago — 21,501 people voted for school board candidates in this year’s election; 12,159 votes were cast in 2015.

“It shows our district is ready to move forward,” Ahmed said. “It shows our district is open to connecting and engaging with someone despite the differences they may have.”

The three campaigned as a tight ensemble. They door-knocked every weekend in October, met with students and attended school board meetings. Neighborhoods even organized gatherings to meet the candidates.

People frequently recognized who they were upon opening the door, Barb Westmoreland said. Westmoreland is the mother of board member-elect Westmoreland-Bouchard. She described how Fartun felt after a day of door-knocking:

“For many of these people, they just had a lot of questions. They were really curious; they wanted to talk with a Muslim woman who wears a hijab,” Westmoreland said.

Ahmed, 26, was born in Somalia and moved to the United States when she was 3. With her family, she moved around Minnesota for a while before settling in Hopkins. As the oldest of eight children, Ahmed was the first in her immediate family to attend school.

She finished high school in 2009 with a GPA of 4.0 and moved on to study at Metropolitan State University. During her undergraduate years, Ahmed was appointed to committees formed by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison and U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. Later, she obtained a full-ride dual masters from the University of Chicago.

“She’s a standard bearer for her family,” Westmoreland said. “First one to go to college, she has a master’s degree … for her to come back to this community and say ‘I really want to be a part of it and I want to make it better,’ I just admire her so much for these values.”

Ahmed is grateful for Hopkins Schools and the resources the district provided for her family when she entered schools, she said.

“It shows you what America is that my parents — who had no idea, who had never went to school, who don’t even know how to read or write in Somali — can raise this daughter who can be elected to a political position in an office,” she said, “and that’s what America is.”

However, despite the district’s efforts, the resources at hand right now don’t match the need for the 45 percent who are students of color, Ahmed said.

Working as an executive director at her family’s Family Resource and Childcare Center gave her insight. Family after family came in, addled in trying to navigate the school system. Many families with whom she spoke changed their minds to stay in Hopkins, but others left to open-enroll in neighboring districts.

Leaders in the community should understand the issues varying community members are facing, Ahmed said.

On the day before the election, Ahmed’s 8-year-old sister wrote her a letter for good luck, saying she looks up to her oldest sister.

“I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this is because I want her to grow up in a community where she knows her leaders and people will listen to her and people will respect her,” Ahmed said.

The campaign results proved that people underestimate their own community, she said. Hopkins was ready for leaders in public office who reflected a cross-section of the community.

Westmoreland said the relationships the trio formed with voters throughout the past several months will propel them into office.

“I feel a great sense of hope,” Westmoreland said, “and I think a lot of other people do, too. Everybody’s looking for goodness in our own community, that we really want to work together to make sure everyone’s life here is good and going well.”

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Scared liar Alex Jones: U.S. has ‘colonized Minnesota with Somalis’ [VIDEO]

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CITY PAGES — On Monday, legendary Hollywood shitheel James Woods tweeted a video depicting Somalis at the Mall of America.

Are these things connected?

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

This we learned from a nine-minute clip from Alex Jones, a disturbingly popular conspiracist who has never let the fact that everything he says is a lie detract from the fact that it would be scary if it was true.

After showing the same clip James Woods had posted, Jones begins: “Mall of America yesterday…”

Wrong. The video’s timing is unclear, but it was almost certainly taken during Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday which many Somali Minnesotans celebrate with a trip to the Mall of America. This year, Eid al-Adha fell on August 31 and September 1, which is only “yesterday” if you, like Alex Jones, have been awake for the last 10 weeks.

Here’s an NPR story (from 2006) about why Muslims go to the mall to celebrate Eid.

Hold us, we’re scared.

Ahem. Continue, Alex.

“Mall of America yesterday was about 95 percent Somali…”

Wrong. This one small part of the Mall of America (the Nickelodeon Universe) appears to be heavily Somali or East African… during a very brief clip… recorded, again, on a day when Muslims traditionally gather at the mall. The Mall of America is enormous, though: 500-something stores spread out over 4.9 million square feet of space.

This video shows a couple hundred people. The Mall of America averages more than 100,000 visitors a day. Most are white.

Anyway, sorry to cut you off again Alex, continue.

“Mall of America yesterday was about 95 percent Somali. Now, that’s the main area where they’ve been resettling for 40-plus years…”

Wrong. The vast majority of Somali-Americans emigrated to the United States (and Minnesota, specifically) as refugees from a civil war … during the 1990s. That’s not 40 years ago.

OK, sorry Alex. Proceed.

“Now, that’s the main area where they’ve been resettling for 40-plus years. The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, most radical Muslim nation…”

Wrong. Those are subjective assertions to begin with, but, while Somalia is essentially tied for dead last in freedoms, it’s down there with countries — Saudia Arabia, Yemen — the U.S. considers its allies.

As for “most radical,” Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan — again, all U.S. allies — suffer more terrorist attacks than Somalia. And most terrorists or would-be terrorists who target America are from… America.

OK Alex, go on.

“The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, radical Muslim nation, where women are sold at slave auctions to this day…”

Not wrong, per se, but misleading as hell. Jones is almost certainly referring to sex slavery as practiced by Al-Shabaab militants, a group which consists of maybe 9,000 people — in a country of 14 million.

The way Jones phrases it makes it sound like slave auctions in Somalia are sanctioned, and happening everywhere, all the time. It’d be like describing the United States as a “nation where people get shot at country music concerts,” or a “nation where people live in St. Cloud, Minnesota.”

Is there… more?

“The U.S. Government has been bringing Muslims in, from the most suppressive, radical Muslim nation, where women are sold at slave auctions to this day. It has the highest murder rate in the world…”

Wrong.

“It has the highest murder rate in the world, and women are seen as, basically, animals. Now, our government, as part of the diversity VISA program, has colonized Minnesota with Somalis.”

Oh, fuck this. This is going to take all day. Imagine how exhausting it would be if the people who watch Alex Jones — or feed this hokum into his teleprompter — cared whether what he said was even remotely true.

You can watch this clip if you want, but please, go in knowing virtually every single thing in Jones says is either provably incorrrect, or has been twisted beyond recognition into something pointy, which he then waves right in front of his terrified viewers’ bug-eyes. At one point Jones starts talking about “drag queen festivals.” At another, he calls Abdiraham — Jones calls him “Adderdam” (wrong), then “Abababa” (wrong) — “our new Somali God.” Then he says the word “zero” 16 times in a row. It’s… well, it’s pretty much like every other Alex Jones clip.

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Minnesota Somalis embrace Election Day

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MINNEAPOLIS – In the mid to late 1990’s, Minneapolis become home to thousands of Somali refugees.

We now have the largest population in the United States.

And today, on Election Day, we were shown something absolutely remarkable about our Somali community in Minneapolis’ Ward 6.

They voted early at seven times the rate of other areas in the city.

As first and second generation immigrants they are taking their civic duty to a record-breaking level.

Ali Isse has been getting out the vote early in Ward 6 and his response to this?

“It’s just a normal campaign. (We are) just working a little bit harder,” Isse said with a shrug.

That’s a humbling way to describe it but the reality is too important to not say out loud. These Somali Americans hold a passion to vote because they know, more than many of us born in the U.S. know what it means to be able to do so.

“This is one of our dreams you know, the reason that we are here because we never had a good democratic system and once you get one you will enjoy it and that’s why people are eager and happy to go out and make sure their voices are heard,” Isse said.

It’s simply beautiful really. To watch a community embrace democracy that way. Especially when that community hasn’t been as embraced by the American community.

“A lot of times we are a stereotyped like, oh Somalis they can’t integrate or they can’t get along with other people but that’s not true and this is one of the ways we can prove you know hey we just like everybody else,” Isse said.

Well, in this way, not even in the slightest with these kinds of voting numbers.

And to be specific to Ward 6, look at the city council race they are voting ON. A race with three Somali candidates.

“Even though we are still first and second generation here generally our community is very active in terms of what is going around on local and national level and there are a lot of issues now in terms of the immigrant refugees and all kind of things,” Isse said.

It’s a classic American idea. If you don’t like the way the system works, do two things. Vote. And. Run.

“We’d rather have more on the ballot than not and that’s something we are really proud about,” Isse said.

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