The following flyer was distributed at a north Minneapolis "peace rally" on May 19, 2007:

Let There Be Peace (Without Theft)

Whether it be in Afghanistan and Iraq or on the streets of north Minneapolis, the pursuit of peace is a noble and worthwhile goal. Too many young men and women have died for no good reason. We must try to end the culture of violence.

After another senseless death has taken place, it sometimes helps to hold vigils or otherwise memorialize the loss. It would be better, however, to have intelligent government policies that would prevent this kind of tragedy.

Don Samuels, who has organized numerous vigils, is also chair of the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee of the Minneapolis City Council. In other words, he is one of the two or three persons in the city with the greatest influence over its crime-fighting policy. He should pay more attention to that aspect of his role.

Minneapolis city government needs to recognize that crime is not an abstract problem and criminals do not exist in the abstract. The persons who murder our young men and women are themselves mostly young. As they approach the mid teen years, there is a tipping point when some turn to the gangster lifestyle. The community needs to try to steer them in another direction.

In particular, the city of Minneapolis needs at least one drop-in center where young men and women who might otherwise get into trouble can come in off the street and find activities that might interest them. It needs to be supervised by adults who relate to today’s youth and understand their needs.

Instead of supporting this type of crime prevention, Council Member Don Samuels has made a specialty of closing down convenience stores in north Minneapolis on the theory that the store managers “attract crime” to particular neighborhoods. In reality, this is a blame-shifting device. The city does not care to admit its own policy failure.

The latest store to incur the wrath of city officials is “Uncle Bill’s Food Market” at the corner of Sheridan and Plymouth. The building owner, William Sanigular, sold the grocery-store business to Ali Hassan Meshjell. Last year the city revoked the store’s license on the grounds that illegal activities were taking place there. A judge ruled that the city failed to make its case.

Therefore, the store remains open. In an interview with WCCO-TV last year, Don Samuels claimed that Uncle Bill’s was attracting 1,400 police calls a year. The RECAPS sheets show an average of five calls per month for 2006 and 2007, not out of line for a store near a bus stop in a poor neighborhood. So city officials had to find another way.

The store will go out of business on May 31st. Inspectors from the Minneapolis fire department imposed $25,000 worth of work orders on the building owner, William Sanigular, in the summer of 2006. The inspectors pronounced themselves satisfied with the repairs at the end of July. Then, in January 2007, another fire-department inspector came by with another set of work orders, forcing the owner (who is confined to a wheel chair) out of business. He’s also having trouble paying his mortgage.

The public does not know that former Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes, who is a political ally of Don Samuels, is engaged in acquiring property in the neighborhood in anticipation that property values will rise when the University of Minnesota builds its new health complex at the corner of Penn and Plymouth. She owns an abandoned church building next to the building that houses Uncle Bill’s Food Market.

Cherryhomes wants to acquire Sanigular’s property. She offered to buy the lease for the store from the store owner and manager, Ali Hassan Meshjell, but he refused. Subsequently, city inspectors descended on the building and imposed a second set of work orders on its owner. When he was unable to complete the orders in the short time given, the city posted a placard of condemnation. You can read a more complete account of this sordid event at:

While she was president of the Minneapolis city council, Jackie Cherryhomes was known to have a close working relationship with city inspectors. She developed a reputation as someone who actively and selectively disposed of properties which the city had acquired. This was a source of her power. Cherryhomes and her husband live in a house on Sheridan Avenue for which they allegedly paid $42.

Early in her Council career, Cherryhomes and others were instrumental in forcing a landlord named Floyd Ruggles into bankruptcy. He spent tens of thousands of dollars fixing up a condemned building on Franklin Avenue only to learn that there were back taxes needing to be paid. When he attempted to pay the delinquent taxes by certified check, the city returned the check and also would not allow Ruggles to bid on the tax-forfeited property. Instead Cherryhomes and Joe Biernat sold the building to a non-profit for $2, which soon went out of business. You can read the full story at ruggles1.html.

Cherryhomes became so notorious on the north side that she lost her reelection bid to a political novice, Natalie Johnson Lee, in the 2001 municipal elections. She then concentrated on making money off her City Hall connections. Don Samuels, with Cherryhomes’ help, was elected 5th Ward Council Member after the district was gerrymandered to put two incumbents in the same ward. The rumor is that Cherryhomes plans soon to run for mayor. (Read the promotion piece on her in Doug Grow’s column today.)

Metro Property Rights Action Committee, P.O. Box 3944, Minneapolis, MN 55403

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