This country’s problems, everyone knows, started long before Trump and will outlast him too. In the United States, in 2016, before our current president took office, police killed at least 309 black people in cities across the country, the Mapping Police Violence project has reported. During the final fiscal year of President Obama’s tenure, federal enforcers deported more than 240,000 undocumented immigrants. A report out last year by the economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues showed that US income inequality has continued to grow more severe. Private health care in this country is a laughingstock, and will get much worse if the GOP has its way. Our national parks are in disrepair, and our roads and bridges and highways are falling apart. We’re in the midst of a mass-extinction crisis. We’re at war. Climate change has arrived.
All of these are long-accruing, generational crises. They can’t be blamed on a single administration, no matter how violent and vile, no matter how racist and reactionary. Folks understand that fact. They act on it. And in the last month, as in the many months before, they have been busy, busy, busy: In small cities and huge metropolitan centers, in the heartland and the high plains and beyond, good people have mobilized against ongoing police violence, resisted the deportation state’s creeping authoritarianism, organized against plutocratic tax policies, and launched electoral campaigns with bold and radical platforms, among other promising progressive developments. These are people who, at this very moment, are working to clean up the systemic corruption that has beset us, and of which Trump is just a particularly grotesque consequence. Even last week’s sordid Scaramucci burlesque couldn’t distract them.
Hundreds of people took to the streets of Minneapolis on July 20 and 21 to rally, march, and protest against the killing of Justine Damond, who was shot in her pajamas after calling 911 earlier this month to report a possible rape. As the protesters marched, they called for justice for the multiple victims of Minnesota police violence.
Damond, a 40-year-old yoga teacher from Australia, is only the latest victim in a disgraceful catalog of police killings in and around the city in recent years. Exactly a year and a week before Damond’s murder, local police shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, a beloved figure at the elementary school where he worked, after they pulled him over as he returned home from grocery shopping. Police killed Jamar Clark, 24, in November 2015. In both Castile’s and Clark’s cases, the officers who pulled the triggers were not convicted of any crimes. No one was held accountable.
That could be changing, however. On the second day of protests against Damond’s murder, people blocked off a downtown light-rail station and then flooded into City Hall. When they arrived, Mayor Betsy Hodges was holding a press conference announcing the resignation of Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
The chief’s decision to step down, spurred as it was by potent public outrage, may not be enough. As the mayor made the announcement, indignant residents and organizers interrupted her. “We don’t want you as our mayor of Minneapolis anymore,” said activist John Thompson, a friend of Castile’s, according to The Washington Post. “We ask that you take your staff with you. We don’t want you to appoint anyone anymore.”