Minnesota Latinos wrestle with fear, frustration after El Paso killings

Marylu Ramirez (L) chats with a community member at the Fiesta Latina at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) in St. Paul's East Side on Aug. 10, 2019. Photo courtesy Kerem Yucel for MPR News

Marylu Ramirez (L) chats with a community member at the Fiesta Latina at Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES) in St. Paul's East Side on Aug. 10, 2019. Photo courtesy Kerem Yucel for MPR News

From Sahan Journal.

Growing up in a working class Los Angeles neighborhood taught Filiberto Nolasco Gomez to be cautious about his surroundings, a feeling he says he’s been slowly getting over throughout the years. 

“It’s taken a lot of work to be an adult and not have that anxiety anymore of just a threat around the corner — a cop or a gang member or something,” he said. 

But it came back in full force after he learned about the deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, last weekend. A gunman, who later told police he was targeting Mexicans, killed 22 people, most of them Latinos, and wounded at least two dozen more as they shopped at a local Walmart in the city’s Cielo Vista Mall. 

Read the full story here.

Amazon strike highlights strikingly different takes on working conditions inside Shakopee facility

MinnPost photo by Joey Peters

MinnPost photo by Joey Peters

From MinnPost.

By the time a severe thunderstorm hailed down at the end of an otherwise sweltering Monday afternoon, the opposing sides to an hourslong protest across the parking lot from Amazon’s fulfillment center in Shakopee both declared victory. 

“We create a lot of wealth for Amazon, but they aren’t treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve,” Safiyo Mohamed, one of the rally organizers, said in a statement after the rally. “We are so happy for all the support from the community and from Amazon workers across the world.”

Meanwhile, an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement that only 15 of the Shakopee warehouse’s 1,500 workers left the job to participate in the strike and faulted “an outside organization” for using the company’s Prime Day “to raise its own visibility,” spread “misinformation” and use “political rhetoric to fuel media attention.”

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German Subversion: A charter school’s attempt to sabotage historic preservation and the people trying to save it


Who would have thought a story about a charter school in St. Paul’s Como Park would lead to such vile responses in the comment section?

My May cover story in City Pages clearly touched a nerve. It’s the result of a public records request I made in November 2018, which took the Twin Cities German Immersion five months to fulfill.

The story centers around the school’s fight with the surrounding neighborhood over the future of a former church.

Read it here.

Mohamed Noor trial coverage


Below are links to some reporting I did of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Noor is charged with murder in the July 2017 killing of Justine Damond, an Australian woman who lived in Minneapolis.

Justine Damond's fiance breaks down in tears at ex-U.S. police officer's murder trial

Ex-Minnesota policeman says he shot Australian woman to protect partner

Ex-Minnesota cop denies overreacting when he shot Australian woman

I also covered part of the trial for 7 News, an Australian TV channel:

Justine Damond: Trial has begun for police officer who shot Australian

Ilhan Omar's supporters rally outside Trump event in Minnesota

Courtesy Reuters.

Courtesy Reuters.

From Reuters.

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (Reuters) - Supporters of U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar rallied outside a Minnesota business visited by U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, after he launched a fresh attack on the Muslim-American lawmaker by calling her an “out of control” purveyor of “hate” speech.

Trump was in Minnesota, which Omar represents in Congress, for a tax reform roundtable.

Some of the Omar supporters who gathered outside Nuss Truck and Equipment in Burnsville, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Minneapolis, called on Democratic leaders in Washington to take a stand for Omar.

“Some of Ilhan’s words were taken out of context. I know that she abides by the Constitution. She is a proud American. She might have some opinions, but that shouldn’t put her in a position that we attack her,” said Abdullahi Farah, a Somali-American who attended the rally.

Click here to read the whole story.

Long-time carriers reflect on the end of The Journal

Lyle James. Photo courtesy Dylan Thomas and Minnesota Premier Publications.

Lyle James. Photo courtesy Dylan Thomas and Minnesota Premier Publications.

From the final issue of the Journal Minneapolis.

Before he began delivering newspapers nearly 25 years ago, Lyle James did janitorial work and assembled items like coloring books for a local daycare company.

That job didn’t provide much work for him during the summers, so he picked up a delivery route for the Star TribuneImmediately, James was drawn to the independent, do-it-yourself style of the job.

“I found out I liked it so much that I just started calling around to the different papers,” he said. “Within a few years, I had dropped the job at the place that made the daycare items and went full-time with the newspapers.”

Read the full story here.

Former New Mexico journalist pens novel about reporting in the Susana Martinez era

Courtesy Phil Parker.

Courtesy Phil Parker.

From the Santa Fe Reporter.

The demons still gnaw at Phil Parker—spectral reminders of the real-life horrors he witnessed as a daily newspaper reporter covering New Mexico politics.

So he wrote a novel about it.

The result, Parker's self-published Corruptus, is a strange mixture of the autobiographical, the satirical and the comic-book absurd, united by a scathing critique of New Mexico's power structure during the Susana Martinez era. The 259-page book, penned in fits of rage and self-reflection from a beach in Mexico, finds Parker lashing a cat o' nine tails to the entirety of our tortured state, sparing neither crooked politicians, kids in their mid-20s trying to spin the crookedness for them, or even Parker himself.

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Cuban diplomat Miguel Fraga: ‘The door is open on our side’

Miguel Fraga, courtesy Joey Peters for MinnPost

Miguel Fraga, courtesy Joey Peters for MinnPost

From MinnPost.

As unlikely as it may seem, Minnesota is a hotbed for organizations and people interested in improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Tom Emmer, for example, sponsored multiple bills to end the decades-long U.S. economic embargo against the socialist island nation. Minnesota’s agricultural sector strongly backs the measures and stands to make an additional $47 million to $190 million per year in corn, soybean and dairy exports through increased trade with Cuba, according to a 2017 study from the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba.

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How immigration is changing high school sports in Greater Minnesota

Aaron Haqen/The Globe

Aaron Haqen/The Globe

From MinnPost.

On a field outside of Worthington High School, a teenager who just came back from Guatemala for the summer asks the school district’s activities director, Josh Dale, if he can join the boys soccer team, which is gearing up for practice.

Dale gives him the rundown — he must first fill out paperwork before participating — while head coach Juan Flores tells the kid, in Spanish, to come back the next day to begin the process.

Practice is still on for this late-summer weekday afternoon, despite barely escaping a rainstorm that passed through this southern Minnesota city of 13,000 people in the last few hours. Nearly 60 teenage boys are already here, stretching and getting ready to begin. The school’s girls soccer team, of which about 50 students showed up for today, is wrapping up its practice.

Of all of the students on the field, just a sliver of them — less than half a dozen — identify as white. The vast majority are Latino, while students of Laotian, African and African-American ethnicities also make up a sizable portion.

For Greater Minnesota, this kind of racial makeup is increasingly becoming the norm. Though Worthington’s rapid pace of change may be more dramatic than most places’ — the city saw a big influx of immigrants over the past few decades thanks largely to available jobs at a nearby meatpacking plant — more and more school districts outside of the Twin Cities have become majority-minority. The state projects Minnesota’s non-white population will grow by more than half a million people over the next two decades.

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How medical interpreters navigate the patient-provider relationship

Annabelle Marcovici

Annabelle Marcovici

From Twin Cities Daily Planet.

The heart of Sergio Choy’s job as a medical interpreter is to capture the spirit of the message between patient and medical provider.

“You hear things like, ‘I’m feeling a little blue today,’ in English, but not in other languages. You can’t feel a color in Spanish,” said Choy, who translates between English and Spanish, and says that many expressions are not easily translated from one language to another, especially those having to do with emotions.

Choy, who loves this aspect of his job, works as a freelancer at Kim Tong Translation Services located in Little Canada, and does medical interpretation at Twin Cities health clinics.

More than 200,000 people in Minnesota have limited English skills, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and the state government currently lists 3,500 active medical interpreters on its registry. Hospitals and clinics gather and maintain demographic information on their patients to determine how many medical interpreters to hire as employees or outsource.

Read the full story here.

Cuba solidarity groups support the revolution from the US


From Public Radio International.

In the backyard garden of a modest home on the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota, two dozen people drink mojitos and chat on a humid Sunday afternoon.

One woman dons a shirt emblazoned with Che Guevara’s image. Another man wears a shirt advertising Havana Club rum. A banner reading “End the Blockade Now” drapes the backyard fence. Below it, in smaller words, is the name of the activist group meeting here: the Minnesota Cuba Committee.

People move inside to the basement to watch a documentary about a medical school in Cuba that trains aspiring doctors from around the world free of charge. One of the speakers featured in the documentary, Gail Walker, traveled from New York to be here this afternoon as a stop along her Midwest route to raise money for a humanitarian caravan to Cuba later this year.

After the film ends, Walker, executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, speaks about how her group facilitated getting 170 people from across the country medical degrees through Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine. She explains how the Cuban government is training these medical students, most of them people of color from low-income areas, to be “revolutionary doctors” who will “return to communities across the US that are in dire need of a perspective of medicine that really puts people first.”

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Why the Minnesota Legislature's $825 million bonding bill was not really a $825 million bonding bill

Photo courtesy MinnPost and Corey Anderson

Photo courtesy MinnPost and Corey Anderson

From MinnPost.

Common carp are notorious for feeding at the bottom of lakes, tearing up aquatic plants and clouding the water, which changes ecosystems and impacts the food chain. And since no natural predators exist in Minnesota to keep the adult carp population in check, they overpopulate. “They get really big and really hearty and grow real fast,” said Anna Brown, a planner and project manager at the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

This summer, the watershed district and the Minnesota Invasive Aquatic Species Research Center are working to manage the carp population in Six Mile Creek, which leads to Lake Minnetonka’s Halstead’s Bay, where research found what Brown called “staggering” populations of the fish. They’ll remove adult carp; build barriers to regulate their movement; and preserve fish species that feast on carp eggs. It’ll be similar to work that’s successfully controlled the carp population in two other metro area lakes, St. Paul’s Lake Phalen and Chanhassen’s Lake Riley.

All of these efforts were mostly paid for with money out of a fund first approved by voters 30 years ago — and it’s exactly the kind of work that supporters describe as the purpose of the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, which gets its money from the state lottery.

But now, for the first time in the fund’s history, the money will be used for a much more prosaic purpose: paying off debt on infrastructure projects.

Read the full story here

Meet the ghosts who call St. Paul's Historic Mounds Theatre home

Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

From City Pages.

Historic Mounds Theatre, a movie theater and entertainment venue on St. Paul’s East Side, has long been rumored to be haunted. Three ghosts are said to reside there: Red, the theater’s longtime projectionist; Jim, who worked on the main floor as an usher; and Mary, a little girl whose apparition often appears on stage, performing for the guests.

Since the theater’s 2003 reopening, scores of paranormal investigators have visited the space. Dan Amitrano, from the Ely-based Northland Paranormal, visits on a cool summer evening with hopes of meeting Red.

A local pro wrestling league is here tonight. As athletes prepare, Amitrano walks away from the noise to the projection booth—the perfect spot to measure what paranormal investigators call “cold spots.”

Click here for the full story