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Omar supports Minneapolis ballot question to replace police department

Plus: GOP senator threatens health commissioner’s job over vaccine, mask mandates; opioid addiction in the East African community; Minnesota academic links big agriculture and increased threat of pandemics; and more.

Minneapolis Police Department, 1st Precinct, downtown Minneapolis
Minneapolis Police Department, 1st Precinct, downtown Minneapolis
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

Not exactly a shocker. The Star Tribune’s Hunter Woodall and Liz Navratil report:U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar is supporting a Minneapolis ballot measure to replace the city’s Police Department with a public safety agency, putting her at odds with two of the state’s leading Democrats who have come out against the ballot question. … ‘We have an opportunity, once and for all, to listen to those most impacted by police brutality and the communities who have been demanding change for decades,’ Omar wrote in a Star Tribune opinion piece published online Tuesday. ‘We have a mandate, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, to deliver a public safety system rooted in compassion, humanity and love, and to deliver true justice. I hope we fulfill it.’”

Malcolm in the middle of the next fight between the Senate GOP and the governor? MPR’s Tims Pugmire and Nelson report: “In leading the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm has been one of the most visible commissioners in state government over the past year and a half. Many Republicans have been regular critics of the Gov. Tim Walz administration’s handling of that response, however, which they contend has infringed on personal freedoms. … During a rally against vaccine and mask mandates over the weekend at the Minnesota Capitol, Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, who had been a supporter of the commissioner, told the crowd that firing Malcolm is now an option. … ‘I’m not defending her anymore,’ Abeler said. ‘It seems the only language the governor understands is the removal of another commissioner.’”

On addiction in the East African community. For Sahan Journal, (MinnPost alum!) Ibrahim Hirsi reports: “Addiction is a disease that knows no boundaries. It can affect anyone regardless of their religious affiliation, family background, or socioeconomic status. … That’s the message Yussuf Shafie, who runs the Alliance Wellness Center in Bloomington, has been trying to spread in the East African community. Yussuf has encountered many who downplay or deny the addiction problem that has exerted a tight grip on young East Africans, especially Somalis. The deniers, he said, argue that substance abuse should never be an issue for Muslims, since Islam prohibits the use of alcohol and drugs. … But that religious rule doesn’t mean people aren’t trying them. In Minnesota, the abuse of powerful painkillers—such as oxycodone, morphine, methadone, and fentanyl—is cutting life short for many young Somali men and women.”

Interesting profile of a Minnesota academic who connects large-scale agriculture to pandemics. In The Nation, Eamon Whalen writes: “In early March 2020, Rob Wallace, an evolutionary biologist who had been adrift after an unceremonious exit from the University of Minnesota, flew to New Orleans and then got on a bus to Jackson, Miss., where he was scheduled to speak at an event on health and racial injustice. Wallace, who turned 50 this summer, has been studying and writing about infectious diseases and their origins for half his life. For almost as long, he’s been warning that the practices of industrial agriculture would lead to a deadly pandemic on the scale of Covid-19—or worse. ‘A pandemic may now be all but inevitable,’ he wrote of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in 2007. ‘In what would be a catastrophic failure on the part of governments and health ministries worldwide, millions may die.’”

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In other news…

Giving it a shot:More than 1,000 vaccinated at Minnesota State Fair” [KARE]

Leave it to the lawyers:Judge’s fact-finding leads to new trial” [Session Law]

Seed capital:Neighborhood group pledges $12.3M to build Urban Farm in south Minneapolis” [KSTP]

It’s a wonder small towns are dying:Rural Minn. family may be trapped as town declares their access road doesn’t exist” [Star Tribune]

Paws in donations:Surplus Of Donations In Greenwood Fire Attracting Bears, No More Donations To Be Accepted” [WCCO]