On February 3, more than a dozen grieving mothers from cities throughout the nation including Chicago, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Minneapolis, gathered together at Augsburg College in Minneapolis for the Take a Knee Nation conference to say that they can’t keep burying their children; they want the police killing of youth of color to stop. They spoke of the loss of their sons and at least one daughter who ranged in age from 16 and 17 to young adulthood; a few were in their thirties.
These mothers’ children were killed during a routine traffic stop, mistaken for a terrorist solely because of a name, waiting for a bus after work, dancing at a party, in the back running away from police, surrendering with hands in the air, mentally ill and waiting to be taken to a hospital. They were killed by one officer or multiple police. They were killed with pistols, automatic rifles, or military-grade weapons. One mother said that her son was shot 21 times. In every case, mother after mother said there was no reason to purposely shoot her child to cause death. Perpetrators received impunity, and often the victims were blamed for their own deaths.
The conference asserted that police killings are only part of unjust institutional systems. Some of the mothers planned to brave the freezing cold to continue to draw attention to the issue, joining others who would stand and take a knee outside the gates of the sports palace, the U.S. Bank Stadium arena, the next day during the Super Bowl.
Reported by Mary Beaudoin who attended the Take a Knee Nation conference plenary and the panel featuring the bereaved mothers.
Before you are six, or seven, or eight…the opening lyrics from the perennial musical South Pacific could have applied to Camp Ripley’s Open House Day when the facility invites the public, including families, to visit the Minnesota National Guard facility. Excited young children ran about for an afternoon of adventure exploring massively-lethal weaponry. They climbed all over tanks equipped with impressive canons and played at operating real–though not fireable at the time–weapons such as a grenade launcher and a long-range Ma Deuce machine gun. (This type of machine gun was described as follows by one war fighting enthusiast: “Witnessing the down-range effects of the .50-caliber bullet is an eye-opening experience,” writes Gordon Rottman, author of Browning .50-Caliber Machine Guns. “There are few who can say they were wounded by a .50-cal. Those hit seldom say much more.”
Assisting children with sighting and handling the weaponry were soldiers in regulation camouflage, instructing them as tenderly as their pre-school and elementary teachers might with encouraging words: “Isn’t that cool?” Of course, it’s highly unlikely that the children were aware that in wars on the receiving end of the weapons could be civilians–including children like themselves–inevitable, if unintended, casualties.
The following slideshow was created by Rise Up Times of photos from the Camp Ripley Open House on September 17, 2017. Included are several photos of young children shooting guns. (Slideshow added by Rise Up Times.)
The Morrison County Record, the newspaper of record for the county that hosts the Camp Ripley National Guard facility, included within its pages an end-of-the-year 18-page supplement, The Ripley Reporter Recap, featuring a masthead with its logo of the gates and tagline, “The Warrior’s Choice.” This supplement provides an idea of how law enforcement personnel train at the military base:
Camp Ripley had over 338,600 DoD and 62,500 civilian man-days of training at the installation. The increase in man hours is attributed to out of state organizations, law enforcement agencies and state partners utilizing the resources of the 53,000-acre state-owned regional training facility to complete their annual training tasks.
Camp Ripley features numerous ranges and state-of-the-art training facilities to support military, law enforcement, first responder and inter-agency partner training requirements. The installation is structured to have a full complement of automatic small arms and large caliber weapons ranges as well as several specialized training facilities.
This kind of training is why peace/antiwar activists are concerned not only about ever increasing U.S. militarism abroad but also with increasing militarization of law enforcement within the U.S.
U.S. Police Swat Team, Ferguson, MO Photo: Popular Resistance
To counter the benign image of expanding militarism, groups of activists from the Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace, joined by Women Against Military Madness and Veterans for Peace, maintained a presence at the camp entrance last September (2017) on Open House Day at Camp Ripley, the National Guard facility in central Minnesota.
The activists held banners and signs and watched as vehicles belonging to local law enforcement from throughout the state entered the gates.Among the clearly identifiable vehicles were those from the sheriffs’ departments of Anoka, Stearns, and Morrison County, as well as a Morrison County SWAT Team; police departments from Minnetonka, Brooklyn Park, Little Falls, and St. Cloud, and the Minnesota State Highway Patrol. It was not known why so many different local law enforcement agency vehicles were there that particular day, but law enforcement training in militarized tactics such as how to conduct “crowd control” of the civilian population not only takes place at times at this facility, but also others like it throughout the United States.
Camp Ripley September 17, 2017
The people should not be regarded as enemies and do not need the overkill of military tactics applied.
Activists with the Brainerd Area Coalition for Peace and Women Against Military Madness who participated in the vigil contributed to this report.