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George Floyd Protests Day 5: Peaceful protests by day, riots by night – what are we doing?
May 31, 2020, 3:56 am
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

Last night I slept for the first time in days. Yesterday I toured places in St Paul to see the damage from rioters. I have much of the travels in video below. The girls in Canada wanted to see what home was starting to look like. So I’ll just give some highlights.

I was halfway to Midway (by foot) when I got a call from Alyssia – she was nearly to the Turf Club so we met here there; a bar with great music and better staff, a place where I’ve spent a night or two and where Alyssia works. The Turf Club looks OK – smelled like smoke, doors broken, certainly work to be done but mural outside intact, the posters inside still hanging. We checked on the Ax-Man down the road and learned from Eric, who works there and lives nearby, that he had been watching shenanigans in the for 9 hours the night before.

I saw buildings that were destroyed. The Sports Dome is gone. The Pawn Shop burned so hot the paint on the garage across the alley was melted. There were 8 fire trucks surrounding Big Top Liquor the whole time I was there. Liquor stores, vape store, convenience stores, anyplace with electronics or tennis shoes were gone – looted and burned. Some places like Furniture Mart were full of broken windows and broken glass but otherwise, not bad. Bars seemed OK – Midway Saloon (formerly Big V’s) and Black Hart’s (formerly the Townhouse) had clearly been broken into but others OK. The Auto Zone totaled. (For some reason Auto Zones and Targets seem to take the brunt.)

And I saw the helpers. Dozens of volunteers sweeping, shoveling, handing out masks, water, other necessities and niceties. Fireman putting out the remaining fires. Shop owners doing what they can and wondering out loud why they had been hit or why they had not.

I ran into Kevin we walked around. Just as I was feeling weird about walking around taking pictures we saw one my favorite Midway Murals (still intact.) next to a burned out gas station and I remembered it was less than a month ago I was out taking pictures of the murals. It’s what I do except usually a celebration of my town.

We also drove down Grand Avenue, a little closer to home. I had heard about some grab and go looting the night before. We saw lots of shops boarded and boarding up. The convenience stores had been hit and one half a mile from my house was totally burned out.

Then we ventured to Lake Street in Minneapolis, near the Third Precinct. On that same corner is a place (The Hook and Ladder) where I have danced for hours. Just down the road is a place where Aine participates in an amazing STEM program (Midtown YCWA). But now it looks like the city I see on Unicorn Riot – not the city I know.

We walked around. We saw the homeless encampment where they kicked everyone out. Imagine being homeless and having to move because of riots! The buildings are burned out. Again, volunteers were cleaning. The State Patrol and the National Guard are keeping civilians out. One skinny, young white dude is taunting a tired officer while a personal of colors watches. He’s explaining racism to a cop and a person of color. There’s got to be a term that combines mansplaining and white privilege with the need to be seen and heard.

Usually I’m a fan of graffiti – what I saw was mostly sad. There was a Marxist quote, “When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.” It strikes me more even than the “This is Hell.”

Today was a new day after a very dark night. The terrorists are winning. A press conference with Governor Walz and the Mayors of St Paul and Minneapolis it was clear that the protestors and rioters outnumber the police (and National Guard). There is worry that rioters on both sides have come from all over the US. They are extreme and care little about our community. The level of misinformation, persuasion and bias is overwhelming. We have an 8pm curfew and the Governor asked people to stay home so that they can fight the rioters without worrying about bystanders.

It feels like the Twin Cities are being sacrificed in a war of anarchists, fascists, white supremacists. Each faction seems to feel their view is worth the destruction of our community. It’s frightening as I sit in St Paul alone listening to the helicopters and wait for the sirens. And I can’t think too hard or abstract freight will turn into internalized fear. Instead I will remember today our community came out to remember George Floyd and ask our leaders to demand more from our police. As Mayor Carter said we can hate what happened to George Floyd and want our community to be safe. Those are not conflicting views.

We saw so many helpers leading traffic, handing out masks and food, holding signs, chanting, showing support and registering people to vote.



A terrible beauty is born in the death of George Floyd
May 29, 2020, 3:38 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

May 25, Minneapolis Police Officer Chauvin killed George Floyd, while three other officers did nothing. The circumstances are in debate (did Floyd resist arrest, did Floyd work with Chauvin, is there a criminal offense?!) but there are pictures and video of Chauvin kneeling on his neck until he appears lifeless. I have not heard that disputed.

These four men opened the door to hell for the Twin Cities community. As I type, rioters are in the Third Precinct; they are setting off fireworks and burning a police jacket left behind. Closer to my home in St Paul, I can hear helicopters, sirens and popping – maybe of guns. I’m lucky in that I don’t know for sure. I was at Midway Target earlier and saw a cat and mouse game of people getting closer to the cops until they drew their guns. But that was hours ago. I can’t find a livestream but I hear that Midway is burning. Earlier tonight Aine and I were at a peaceful protest downtown Minneapolis streaming for Women’s March MN. But it feels like maybe that was some kind of distraction.

The revolution will not be televised; it will be livestreamed.

I hope this is the birth of a terrible beauty. A terrible beauty is born is a line from WB Yeats used to describe the 1916 Easter Rising, when Ireland started a revolution that led to a free Republic of Ireland – a revolution from the British. The movement gained tremendous momentum after the British executed the Irish leaders of the weeklong rising. The deaths of those leaders was the turning point in public opinion. That’s a reminder to folks who wonder – have they gone too far? People asked the same thing of the Irish before 1916. The question is – have we pushed too hard?

Will this be the moment that brings change? I have been on the frontlines BUT on the off hours. I haven’t seen much in person. I’ve been thankful to the livestreamers. Everyone is there for their own reason. Many are looking for justice for George Floyd. Many are looking for systemic change – a reformation. Some are looking to incite violence to support or hinder change. I’m afraid for my city. And the only hope is that this brings the systemic change we need to make the Cities safer and better for everyone. To quote Paul Wellstone – we all do better when we all do better. And to misquote – we all burn when we all burn.

I will highlight a video from Chicago and 38th. Nia Wilson was registering voters in the middle of an angry but peaceful demonstration. It gives me hope!

I started writing this last night. I am no smarter today but I figured I would post it – before I head up to Midway for the community clean up.



Amazing Grace for George Floyd played at Governor Walz’s mansion
May 27, 2020, 3:11 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Tonight in front of Governor Walz’s mansion two musicians played Amazing Grace in the rain to honor George Floyd, a black man who was killed last night (May 25) by Minneapolis police.

I happened to drive by at just the right time on my way home from the protest for justice for Floyd. I had heard rumors of music teachers playing at sundown. I have always wanted to go and tonight I just happened to drive by seconds before they started their last song, in honor of George Floyd who was killed 24 hours earlier.

Floyd was a 46 year old man who was killed as a police officer knelt on his back and neck for several minutes. I haven’t watched the video but apparently he told them he couldn’t breathe, called for his mama and then nothing. I have seen the picture. It doesn’t look as if the police officer (or his three colleagues) were in danger. It is reprehensible. They have been fired.

Today there was a protest to let Minneapolis police, mayor and city council know that firing isn’t enough. There were thousands of people there. Most were wearing masks. Social distancing not as easy, but from what I saw people were respectful and supportive. The gathered at 38th and Chicago where it happened. I heard from local neighbors that protesting started at noon, although it was scheduled from 5-7pm.

The crowd moved from the original location to the Third Precinct. We followed. I was streaming for Women’s March MN and Monica streamed to her formidable Facebook friends. People were angry. As angry as protestors I’ve seen at rallies in the past, which is to say angry and fed up. This seemed so senseless. This racism and hateful act dwarfed the COVID-19 pandemic for a day.

We left after 7pm. The protest was still going strong. It was starting the rain hard. I have learned that the longer a protest goes past scheduled end, the increase in dangerous ending. When we left it was still nonviolent but on my way home I drove past 6-10 police cars away from the Precinct but poised. Apparently after we left the protest become violent.

What I want the police, mayor, city council and world at large to hear is that thousands protested what happened. We want change. I want them to hear the sadness and reverence in Amazing Grace and find the humanity to make that change.



Randonauts – choosing our own adventure/distraction during a pandemic
May 25, 2020, 3:08 am
Filed under: St Paul

We are solidly entering the third month of the coronavirus pandemic. Aine is very good about social distancing – with the exception of one friend. I’m going to give myself a good grade. Probably not very good, but someone has to go to Kowlaski’s.

We are getting bored but we’re pretty good about creating distraction. Today, Aine introduced me to Randonauts – an online app and choose your own adventure reality game. You let it track your location, make some selections that get matched with a randomly generated number then somehow comes back with coordinates that you can map to – and visit. Our first randoventure led us to the trail on the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi. Aine loved it.

Then we tried another. The app is supposed to tap into your intentions to provide an apt location. So we decided to focus our intention on a color – pink to match Aine’s new hair. (Hair color being a big pandemic hobby!) We were sent to the St Paul side of the Mississippi near Lake Street. Actually we were sent next door to one of Aine’s favorite house. We didn’t immediately see the pink connection until we saw a pink rose on the park bench nearby. Funny, huh?

Clearly it’s the sort of thing where you can probably make a connection happen – but the pink rose did seem like an easy and apt one.

The app is free. Most of the adventures seemed to be 1-2 miles away. I’m sure there’s a way to set a limit but for now I might just stick with it and use it to fill out my 10-15 mile-a-day walking goal.



Getty Museum Challenge – Ann does Warhol and Aine does Lichtenstein
April 12, 2020, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I finally talked Aine into the Getty Museum Challenge, which is a sign that this quarantine has already gone on too long. The challenge is to react a famous work of art from home.

I did Any Warhol’s Self-Portrait in Drag. Aine did Roy Lichtenstein’s M-Maybe.



Peeps in the time of Coronavirus: a Peepademic
March 28, 2020, 11:19 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I finally made our Peeps diorama! It’s too late (by 24 little hours) for the Pioneer Press contest but I’m going to share them here. And apparently I have a history of being too late, which really means maybe the deadline is too early.

I think the title says it all. We’re in lockdown. We’re trying to stay 6 feet apart from everyone else. We have enough time to do a diorama for the first time in probably 9 years.



Gloria Steinem: Democracy 101 our bodies belong to ourselves
February 20, 2020, 4:44 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Thanks to my Women’s March MN buddy Teresa for the invitation to see Gloria Steinem get interviewed by Kerri Miller tonight at the University of Minnesota. What an honor to get a perspective from someone who has been focused on lifting up women for so long and has met so many smart and interesting people along the way. If I were in school Id’ be asking for extra credit from all of the things I learned tonight.

Lesson One: Democracy 101 our bodies belong to ourselves
Inherent in democracy is the idea is that people have agency over their own bodies and their voices. Gloria (yup, I’m going first name here) mentioned this in light of reproductive rights and the #MeToo movement. It seems obvious once you hear it but today women do not have agency over their bodies. Just earlier in the day I attending a Rally for Reproduction Freedom. Abortion is legal in Minnesota but there are a lot of hoops required. If a minor, you need permission from bother parents. Doctors are required to provide nonmedical info to patents, which as info on child support. You need a 24 hours waiting period. There are only 5 clinics in Minnesota that perform abortions and 3 of those are in the Twin Cities. You don’t need permission or a waiting period for a gun. And you don’t need a waiting period for any other medical procedure. Women’s reproduction should be healthcare, not politics.

Lesson Two: Never too young
When asked if there was anything she could change about her life as an activist Gloria said, I would have started earlier. It sounds like she felt the need but lacked the boldness at a younger age. It made me proud of dragging my own three girls to demonstration and rallies at a very young age – certainly stroller age. It’s a different era to be sure and I think that shift in personal and community boldness has helped us raise girls who are more comfortable participating and leading social change at young ages – including the Youth Strikes for Climate Change and Students Demand Action for gun control.

Lesson Three: Christianity is a Patriarchy
Women give birth; as Gloria says, we corner the market on that. The church offers rebirth in baptism. Even better they do it to erase the original sin inherently passed from generation to another to anyone born of woman. Even better than rebirth away from sin, the church promises life after death, a reward that cannot be proved. Instead of celebrating birth, the church denigrates it by trying to one-up the process.

Lesson Four: ERA is good economic stimulus
Equal Rights for women, equal pay for women would put $500 billion into the economy each year. OK, Gloria wasn’t so specific but I looked it up

If all working women in the United States aged 18 and older were paid the same as comparable men, women’s average earnings would increase $6,870, from $38,972 to $45,842 (or 17.6 percent) annually (Table 2). Added up across all working women in the United States, this would amount to an earnings increase of $512.6 billion, or 2.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 (see Figure 2 for state-by-state data).[1] Put another way, U.S. women—who are also consumers, savers, and asset owners—lost $512.6 billion in 2016 due to the gender wage gap.

Lesson Five: Equality won’t be reached until child raising is equal
Historically raising children has fallen to women. To a huge extend that’s still true today. I always thought that issues around that related to unpaid work impacting perceived value of women and just the lack of economic security for women who have stayed home. Gloria brought up another reason: some men regress when admonished by a woman, especially in the workplace and more strongly when that woman is a supervisor or otherwise some power over him. That may be because for some men, the last woman in charge was their mother. They haven’t learned to accept direction or criticism from a woman.

It’s a lot to take in – in an hour-long show. I’ll be taking it all in over the next few days. Plenty to think about.




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