George Floyd’s killing by a Minneapolis police officer has placed the city’s history of racial inequity and white violence at the forefront of a global protest movement. The Southwest Journal has asked local residents to share their feelings and experiences. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Read all of our interviews here.
During a march near Lake & Blaisdell, Saturday, May 30
There have been so many emotions this week — devastation, determination, motivation to get some answers from Mike Freeman, who finally spoke.
I was all for burning this down [except] the black-owned business. This is being televised!
But the systematic racism is not what it once was when we rioted in ‘65. We’ve got a younger generation who do care about their black friends. You see the majority of the people out here are melanin-recessive individuals. They do give a f—-k. Now we can go to Congress, now we can go to the governor, now we can talk to the mayor.
This past week has shown me what this city is about — uniting. I don’t live here, I live in the suburbs, and I was all for burning this motherf—-er down. But you see all these bikers and hippies. They’re about free love and really coming together and they support LGBT. They do like their black people. I’m not going to clean any of this shit up, but I appreciate the movement. Let’s leave [the wreckage] for a long while as a reminder of what it took to try to get some change.
I’m so sad that this man lost his life. One life gone and his life changed the trajectory of history forever.
During quarantine, you know people are not wound tight mentally. I’ve experienced some joy in all of this madness, in all of this chaos. It’s on a national level. My message is “Not Again, Jim Crow.” I see Jim Crow happening on a more professional level. It’s just not as in your face as it used to be.
I have been beat up by the police on a couple different occasions. When I had my long hair and girl clothes, they didn’t bother me too much. As soon as I got a fade, the Minneapolis police beat me up. I was born a female and when you look the part of a brown female, they don’t really bother us as much. But as soon as I wore boy clothes, oh my god. I have experienced what it is to be a brown man in America.
I got tased down by the onramp to I-35 [in Kingfield]. I got pulled over for some noise ordinance — I had subwoofers in the back. I got out, I had some marijuana on me, so I ran. They tased me, and when they came to me, they put their foot in my back and pulled my arms back. That’s the interaction with police that stands out the most.
Until we understand the systematic level, nothing’s ever going to happen. I could tell you too much, but I’m going to die for what I know. I was extremely pleased when they put Trump in office just to show what this country’s been about the whole time. When they put Obama in office, I said, “Oh lord, illusion of inclusion.”
I don’t promote violence. I do promote change. I do promote growth. I support everything happening right now. But with these fires, my brown people ain’t no goddamn arsonists. The fires on a professional level that are burning down a building, that ain’t us. We don’t do that. We don’t know how to get to a pipeline.
I hope that we don’t have to lose too many lives. That’s what I hope. Do I think that’s going to be the case? I’m not sure.