Most of our international clients have no idea where Minneapolis, Minnesota is located. Even some US clients are not quite sure. I explain, “The Mississippi River runs through the center of the US starting from near the Canadian border in Minnesota in the center of the country. The river runs south to the Gulf of Mexico. Minneapolis is in the north-most state along the Mississippi River.”
Minneapolis and St. Paul are called the “Twin Cities.” They are home to 18 of the companies listed on The Fortune 500 Companies. The population is highly educated and high income. The schools are some of the highest-rated in the country. The “happiness score” for Minnesota is second only to Hawaii. It is the top among the healthiest states.
The Twin Cities has the largest population of Somali and Hmong refugees in the country. We have a Somali US congresswoman, a Muslim State Attorney General, the mayor of St Paul is black as is the Chief of Police in Minneapolis.
Most people are proud of the city and OK with people not knowing where we are located. We think of ourselves as open to diversity. That all changed on Memorial Day.
George Floyd Touched the World
The world saw a policeman put his knee on the neck of George Floyd for over eight minutes as Floyd defenselessly died. The incident occurred close to where I grew up. The stores that burned are in the neighborhood I shopped in as a child.
My brother lives a few blocks from the location of the standoff on the bridge. The demonstrators running from the police ran past my brother’s home. The world has been outraged. Minneapolis is now a city name that most people recognize.
The rosy picture I painted of Minneapolis is from a white man’s perspective. It is very different for many black people in Minneapolis. Racist policing has continued in minority neighborhoods. The public school performance gaps are some of the largest in the country. There has been much angst, but no solution.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What does it take to significantly change an organizational structure? Companies go bankrupt or get purchased if they are dysfunctional. Democracies have elections. Dictators face revolution. What about police departments?
Minneapolis has tried changing the police culture from the top with the last two reform-minded Chiefs of Police. It hasn’t worked.
A crisis can be an opportunity. If there is enough political will for change, it can create opportunities. Intervention is a bit like a corporate takeover. Part of a takeover is to determine who should stay and who should go to build the future of the organization.
“Senior management” of the state and city government is committed to reform. Perhaps a few years from now, Minneapolis will be known as the city that addressed the problem culture and successfully moved toward their ideal.