Listen: Minneapolis Police and Black community with Mrs. Willie Mae Demmings and Spike Moss

MPR’s Debbie Gage reports on community public testimony regarding abuse accusations of Minneapolis police. Reports includes commentary from Willie Mae Jennings and and Spike Moss.


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DEBBIE GAGE: North Minneapolis Blacks testified for over two hours against the police. And the first witness was Mrs. Willie Mae Demmings. Demmings asked publicly for a federal investigation of the police two weeks ago. She was allegedly beaten by officers without provocation and subsequently convicted of assault.

WILLIE MAE DEMMINGS: I was in jail for two hours. I had to put up a $200 bail. When they came down to the hospital-- to the jail house to get me out, they had to take me to emergency that night. And I had to be in court at 9 o'clock the next morning, and I went from there to the doctor's office. And they admitted me into the hospital because of the injury to my neck and because of a heart problem. And my heart had become so unstable that I was in the hospital for eight days, just mostly sleeping so that my heart could stabilize.

DEBBIE GAGE: But community member Spike Moss said many Blacks were afraid to come to the hearing because they were tired of trying to buck an all-White power structure.

SPIKE MOSS: But you have to look at it like this, Robert was picked up on the block. He was beaten on the block. He was carried to the river, the beating continued, then he was swept off in a fashion, I guess, you could say kidnapped, all the way to the land of lakes for two weeks. And the mother was told, you couldn't see your son. All right, now, after he sets for two weeks, this is going through his mind.

You can't even get up there and get him. He can't come out. But as soon as his wounds heal up, he's free. So that shows him in his mind that his community can't do anything to save him from this monster. But now his community wants him to testify against the monster that might kidnap him again and make it stick off in the boondocks. So you're faced with a situation like right now, everybody would like Martha to come forward. And I would too, because the way Martha's son was done, but what can we do?

DEBBIE GAGE: The Minneapolis Police Department is now the target of several investigations. A Hennepin County grand jury is investigating in connection with a racial incident involving two off-duty policeman and Minneapolis Mayor Al Hofstede organized a commission to look at police procedures last month. Charges of police brutality were raised again this week when police shot a 13-year-old Black boy in the back as he was fleeing from the site of a burglary. Any complaints, which the human rights board files against the police will be enforceable by court order. I'm Debbie Gage.


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