By Colin Flaherty
Minneapolis police want you to know race has nothing to do with an epidemic of violent crime in their downtown.
Same for crime reporter Matt McKinney: The recent increase in what he calls "flash mob" violence and mayhem is "random" and "no other real pattern emerges" and the "motivation for the attack remains unclear."
But more and more people in Minneapolis are connecting the violence with groups of blacks marauding through the downtown; beating, hurting, destroying and stealing. Sometimes right in front of police.
A lot of it on YouTube. With lots of witnesses – 15 to 20 times over the last year.
The attacks are part of a nationwide pattern of hundreds of episodes of unreported racial violence and lawlessness found in more than 50 cities over the last three years.
In Minneapolis, a headline from the Star Tribune tell part of the story, but conceals the rest: "Flash mob actions worry Minnesota police." McKinney fills in some of the details about one of the incidents from March 2012:
"We were just biking, the three of us, having some laughs and enjoying the night," said the cyclist, who didn't want his name used out of fear for his safety. It was 7:45 p.m. and the street was crowded with people enjoying the unusually warm evening, he said.
Suddenly "some kid" ran up to the man's friend and punched him in the face, breaking his jaw. Another eight to 10 youths surrounded the cyclists, yelling and trying to provoke a fight.
Two police officers had been watching seven youths at a bus stop when they saw them "suddenly surge" toward the cyclists.
As the officers gave chase, the group fled with one victim's bike. They ran through the seating area at Oceanaire's patio, picking objects off the tables to throw at one of the bicyclists running after them.
Eventually four people were arrested, all black.
The bikers got hurt, but they got off easy compared to the St. Patrick's day mauling 20 black people inflicted on a Minneapolis graphic artist named Pieter. He suffered serious brain injuries and now has no short-term memory. A local bank has turned videos of the crime over to the police. He is afraid to use his last name.
An hour before he was beat and kicked into the Intensive Care Unit, 20 black people assaulted an out-of-town couple at the exact same intersection. The Star Tribune may be squeamish about reporting the race of the criminals, but City Pages is not:
Melissa screamed as three separate youths came at Kirk, throwing punches. Kirk says he was able to dodge the blows. He remembers one of the assailants smiling while he threw punches, "like it was fun." As people on the street started to take notice of the attack, the mob dispersed, leaving Kirk one-on-one with a man he says was over 6 feet tall.
"I dodged several of his punches before he ran off," Kirk said, adding that he himself didn't punch anyone. "I believe that if it wasn't for my wife's screaming I would have been seriously injured." Thankfully, he ended up with nothing more than a swollen neck. Melissa, a 33-year-old school teacher, was pushed, and one of the assailants burned her hand with a cigarette, she says.
After the mob dispersed, Kirk and Melissa made their way back to the Marquette. There, they talked to a police officer about the incident.
Wrote Melissa in an email: The "cop wasn't that interested in taking a report, since we didn't have descriptions – just African-American...[I] wonder how many people have been attacked, since our story isn't even part of the stats."
Over the past year, the Minneapolis area has been the scene of more than a dozen other examples of large scale racial attacks that are known.
"In September of 2011, a crowd of 1,000 black people rioted through downtown fighting, stealing, destroying property. Much of it on YouTube. (Warning: Graphic language)
A few days later, a gang of 20 black women beat white woman after she confronted them about harassing her child.
A few weeks later, a group of black people attacked a mobile alcoholic beverage cart in Minneapolis – stealing, threatening. The newspapers dutifully reported the crime, and dutifully ignored the race of the attackers.
Except for the University of Minnesota newspaper, which in its early editions identified the attackers by race, but removed it in later editions.
Which is how it should be, said Minneapolis police spokesman William Palmer: "The MPD does not track arrestees by race,” said Palmer. “And frankly, no, it doesn’t matter. We arrest and prepare criminal cases for consideration of prosecution for those people who choose to break the law. Race has nothing to do with it."
But the city does keep track of the race of officers in its affirmative action reporting and recruiting. According to the city website, “The City of Minneapolis is aware of its commitment as an equal opportunity employer and the efforts necessary to meet the responsibilities outlined in the Affirmative Action Plan. The City's Department of Human Resources serves as a liaison through its 'Connecting with the Communities We Serve' program and maintains contact with the following community-sponsored action groups" including the Black Story Tellers Alliance, African Community Services, Minneapolis Urban League, Minnesota Multicultural Development Center, and other race-based groups.
The city also has a policy to "intensively recruit protected class persons," including black people. And if they are having trouble qualifying for a job, the city will provide tutoring and change certification procedures to help select more "protected class persons."
Blogger Neal Krasnoff says the violence is more widespread than the police or media are talking about:
"One of my friends was robbed at Nicollet and 7th. They harassed her, then one mutt knocked her down, pounded her head against the sidewalk, then took off with her cell phone. The perps are – yes, you and I guessed correctly – Male/Black/18-35. She's the fifth person in her circle of friends to be attacked."
The Star Tribune is loathe to discuss race. But many of the black people involved in the mayhem are not: They use YouTube to brag about their illegal exploits, as appears in the following video. Many other videos cannot be embedded because of the violence and language included.
Videos of groups of violent black people in Minneapolis are so numerous that some are even set to music.
McKinney and the police are not willing to talk about violence and how race is a part of it. But the readers of the paper, bloggers, and talk radio are.
"Let's stop being so P.C. about all this," said one reader of the Star Tribune. "It's a racial thing, isn't it? Isn't it black youth who are the ones committing the vast majority of these downtown crimes, and aren't they the ones harassing people downtown? Will this comment be censored? Isn't what I'm saying factual, though, censored or not?"
Commenters on the Star-Tribune's flash mob stories may be split over the significance of the paper refusing to report the race of the rioters. Some call for more jobs for minorities. Others say that noticing the rioters are black is racist.
Others point out race-conscious coverage of black ministers, black teachers, and other black institutions. They wonder why it is acceptable to do hundreds of stories about everything in the black community except for large groups of black criminals creating danger and havoc in downtown Minneapolis.
An email to the Star Tribune was not returned.
Colin Flaherty is an award-winning reporter whose work has appeared in more than 1,000 media outlets around the world, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and WND. His critically acclaimed book, "White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How The Media Ignore It," is in its second edition and available in paperback and e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other popular outlets.