The time for action is now

Updated: December 3, 2015 - 10:04 am

Standing with Black Lives Matter the past two weeks I have seen a lot of grief and pain. I have also seen it forged into new community ready to fight for justice.

The grief I saw is not just for Jamar Clark, but it is also for each neighbor who has been beaten or killed by police. Our criminal justice system throws away black lives and so seldom does the world notice. It is grief for black workers who have wages stolen at Target Field or chaotic schedules that makes getting to a doctor’s appointment challenging.  

We have a separate economy for black workers and the world never notices. Growing up white in Southwest Minneapolis, comfortably middle class, I cannot fully fathom the depths of the grief or know the pain, but it is tangible and it is frequent. 

What I also see at the 4th precinct is a joyful and powerful declaration that Black Lives Matter. What I hear is a declaration that Black lives must matter in the values that guide our city and nation. We need a method of policing that starts with the compassion visible at the protests. What I hear is a declaration that black lives must matter in our city’s economy. We need an economy with dignity that supports black workers with living wages, paid sick time and schedules that work for families.

Many of us haven’t felt this grief or known this pain, but it’s time to listen to those who have. It is time to listen, to understand, and to join your voice to those calling to rethink our justice system and build an equitable economy. We need a special session for black economic justice.

There must be a direct prosecution for the officers who shot and killed Jamar Clark. It is time to pass the Working Families Agenda. It’s time to get to work.

Elliot Altbaum
Former Linden Hills resident who now lives in Lowry Hill