My friend and Northern Alliance Radio Network colleague Mitch Berg couldn't help but notice how the big city mayors just might be the victims of "give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile."
(W)hat must it be like to be Betsy Hodges or Chris Coleman, right now? They’ve bent over 90 degrees past backwards for BLM – who, being liberal and (partly) black, they consider their electoral property – allowing them to block city streets numerous times without the protest permit every other group would need to bet, much less blocking interstate highways and mass transit over and over again. And now – after all those favors – BLM ungratefully wants to screw with one of Hodges and Coleman’s marquee events?
Will either of them decide to “get tough”, as the eyes of the marathon-running world are on them?
Ah yes. We'll come back to that.
Another friend of mine (as well as an attorney extraordinaire), Harry Niska, used legal rationale to call out statements made by local BLM leader Rashad Turner.
1/ This meets MN criminal def of coercion: "“We definitely would be willing to talk with the [TC] Marathon officials," Turner said.— Harry Niska (@HarryNiska) September 30, 2015
2/ "If they were to assist us ..., that could change the dynamics of what our protest looks like on Sunday..."— Harry Niska (@HarryNiska) September 30, 2015
3/ "there’s a way we can collaborate to where possibly runners will still be able to finish the marathon.” Link: http://t.co/J5MMATfxZ4— Harry Niska (@HarryNiska) September 30, 2015
4/ Here's the coercion statute: https://t.co/89BPQQP0Dw— Harry Niska (@HarryNiska) September 30, 2015
5/ Disclosure: I'm planning to run in TCM Sunday— Harry Niska (@HarryNiska) September 30, 2015
I would imagine that Turner's remarks were likely the last straw for St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman. As such, he released the following statement Wednesday:
“Over the last several months, Black Lives Matter has conducted numerous demonstrations in the City of Saint Paul designed to disrupt traffic, deter people from getting to the State Fair and shut down the Green Line. While these events have likely inconvenienced some people, the protests have not led to any significant issues, no serious injuries and no arrests. The Saint Paul Police Department has done an exceptional job of balancing the rights of protesters to be heard and the public to be safe.
“Now leaders of Black Lives Matter in Saint Paul have stated their intent to ‘shut down the Twin Cities Marathon.’ While we are no less committed to the right to peacefully protest, these threatened actions pose an unacceptable risk to runners, spectators and protesters themselves. To paraphrase an old adage, the right of anyone to protest ends at another's nose, or, in this case, someone else's feet. Therefore, I have asked Chief Smith to keep all options on the table to prevent disruption of the race or prevent runners from finishing the marathon.
“I have also reached out to Saint Paul leaders of Black Lives Matter and hope to meet with them prior to Sunday. It is my desire to understand more fully what specific steps they are asking the City of Saint Paul and the Saint Paul Police Department to take to address their concerns. Recent incidents cited by the group’s leadership are currently under review. I am confident Chief Smith will address these matters appropriately. And I also believe it is important for leaders of Black Lives Matter to understand the extraordinary efforts Chief Smith and the department have taken to address issues of racial equity.
“Saint Paul has a long history of resolving disputes peacefully and successfully, including a long history of working directly with community leaders to take corrective action in City and police practices. We remain committed to doing so.”
While I am somewhat amused at the predicament Coleman finds himself in given he borderline excused some of BLM's prior tactics, it is my sincere hope that the TC marathon goes on without incident. I actually agree with some of the concerns expressed by BLM, particularly instances of questionable tactics by law enforcement towards minorities. But unfortunately those concerns can often be drowned out if BLM continues to disrupt the lives of those who are not the least bit complicit in such things. Sadly, Turner still seems unmoved by that, which would serve to only inflict more damage upon BLM's reputation.
UPDATE: St Paul mayor Chris Coleman and BLM head Rashad Turner meet. Reach some sort of accord where BLM will not disrupt the TC marathon. Some would call that "extortion." Huh.