100 thoughts on “Youth protest police profiling”

  1. Power to the people!; and thanks Griff, ever the teaser. So, now, know who are you, and what is the complaint. Many of us don’t think Northfield has a major heroin problem, but believe any one victim is too many.

    I have no knowledge of the local police harassing anyone, my experience has been that the force is well trained and fair – few who are confronted by the police who are in ignorance of or are in deliberate violation of a law or ordinance tend to respond negatively (caught! why me!).

    However, all of us are (or should) be really pissed off if any of us are unfairly harassed or being disciminated against. Even one person. Any member of the police department doing the latter should be investigated and disciplined if guilty.

    So, again, how do you come to need to organize a protest and what is the case you make. I will strongly support you assuming you make your case. Thanks for the protest, thanks Griff for the coverage. Who will tell the story so we can join you and take action?

    Dean Kjerland

  2. It wouldn’t be a great stretch for me to believe that the Northfield police are more suspicious of youth than older citizens, but is that unreasonable? That is, youth do commit crime in greater numbers. Is this any worse than an insurance company awarding a better rate to a teen with a high GPA than one with lower marks? (That is, insurers’ numbers would tell them that the teen with lower grades is more likely to be an accident — the police know [through presumably less formal means] that a youth is more likely to commit crime than Citizen Doe.)

    But my bigger question is this: what have the police done? I see one of the signs states “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS — DON’T BE A VICTIM.” What rights are being violated here? I don’t pose this question to discredit the protest, I genuinely want to know. A quick search at the Northfield News reveals that the last letter to the editor to use the term “profiling” was in 2005 and completely unrelated.

    So just what are the Northfield Police doing that’s so offensive?

  3. It’s nice to see overprivileged kids complaining about the almost “movie set” town they live in. I know some of the kids who were there, and they are nice people. They have so many advantages here in Northfield that other kids in other towns do not have, like two major colleges, The Key, and ARTech. After reading the underage drinking report from the News, it would seem that the police are doing their job.

  4. I’d like to say that I’m very proud of my brother and everyone else who chose to protest on friday. There is a herion problem in northfield, no one is trying to say that this isn’t true. But just because a small group of kids choose to do herion, doesn’t mean all the youth in town has, and its wrong for them to be treated like they are. There has been many times in the past few weeks where youth have been stopped and harassed by some of the police in town for no other reason then the fact that they’re age is, or looks to be, between 15 and 20. The youth aren’t angry at the police, they aren’t blaming them for anything, they just want to be treated fairly.

    Good Police,
    Bad Policies

    We need to work on strengthening the relationship between the cops and the youth in town, thats something I’ve said from the beginning. Nothings going to be solved if we don’t start working together.

  5. First off: shame on Sean Hayford O’Leary’s comments that youth commit more crimes than adults. Is that true? Can you back that up? Does corporate and government crime count? Or does it only count when tennis balls get stolen out of your garage? Youth want to be heard – is that so wrong? You don’t have to agree with that they say, but don’t dismiss them in a condescending way. If you are serious about wanting to know about what rights have been violated please email me at joshhinnenkamp@yahoo.com and I will be happy to pass questions along to a couple of those at the protest.

    I don’t know if the youth were right in having a protest on Bridge Square, but I do know that it is their right. From talking to youth at The Key I can say that there does seem to be some cases of age profiling and this has been highly escalated of late. Will this solve the drug and alcohol problem or will it create suspicion, distrust, and hate for the local police force? Cops should bust house parties where underage people are drinking – it is their job (no one should celebrate them for doing their job). But unless there is some transparency with the youth, which includes dialog and building up a relationship, I see little that this band-aid approach can fix.

    And in reference to Nick who writes about “overprivileged kids”, well thanks for stereotyping them: youth love that.

  6. First off: shame on Sean Hayford O’Leary’s comments that youth commit more crimes than adults. Is that true? Can you back that up?

    I must have omitted those comprehensive statistics of Northfield’s criminal goings-on. Oh, right, there are none.

    I base that generalization on the personal experience of being a teen in Northfield. An enormous number of teens engage in illegal substance abuse. And I would challenge to tell me otherwise with a straight face. This doesn’t mean they’re fundamentally bad people or that they deserve to be harassed, but if the police happen to be a bit more suspicious of us than older folks, it seems reasonable enough.

    I don’t know if the youth were right in having a protest on Bridge Square, but I do know that it is their right.

    I don’t dispute their right to protest, but I just think they may have jumped the gun. Why were their no letters to the editor or other civil complaints? The Key members have used methods like letters to the editor in the past, correct?

  7. Ruth,
    For some reason, your comment didn’t show up earlier, so I hadn’t seen it when I commented last.

    Thank you for your diplomatic words. And you were a bit more specific, but I’m still left wondering what is harassment? Just being asked what you’re up to by a cop? Being followed? Or do these sorts of things have to happen repeatedly?

    Basically, what’s the line — even a blurry one — between police being cautious and harassment?

  8. This was NOT a Key protest and in no way was it sponsored by The Key. But because I work for The Key I do know about youth events that occur in our community.

    I have heard of a letter to the editor that was to be written for today’s or Wednesday’s Northfield News, but do not know if it has been in print yet.

    As far as jumping the gun goes, maybe you are right, maybe you are wrong. I did not protest and have not heard all the reasons from the protestors. But I do know that reasons I have heard, previous to the protest, seem to imply an escalation in profiling youth. Profiling youth is jumping the gun, much more so that a protest. I don’t wish to have an endless argument in which we will probably never see eye to eye, but will say that the police can and should do a better job in forming a relationship with the community of Northfield. Until that happens youth with negative opinions on cops in Northfield and cops in general will not change. In fact, we may see a deepening seed of mistrust and fear.

    Profiling is still profiling: whether it be race, age, sex, religion, and sexual orientation. It is wrong.

  9. It seems I heard about an incident in the recent past about a group of young people, who had been drinking, that were stopped as they were walking down the street. If I’m incorrect on this, please set me straight. Anyway, there must have been something to arrouse the suspicion of the investigating officer. How many of you think that inebriation is not evident? There is an old saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck. I would offer that the analogy fits a group of people who have been drinking. In fact, public inebriation is not limited to young people. It doesn’t matter how old they are, it is against the law. I would like to hear the other side of this story.

    I would also like to address the idea of “rights”. In the constitution, we are gauranteed the right of unlawful search or seizure. But, does this apply to somone who is evidently breaking the law? I don’t think so. The laws of this country are written to protect and cover the people who follow them. If you choose to walk outside the law, you are not going to be protected. You are going to be arrested.

    I have been concerned with a trend I see in some youth this country. There seems to be an attitude in some that they can do whatever they please without any consequences. This seems to spill over into many areas. Young children are, I think, hurried into adulthood too soon. They are dressed too old for their age. They are given freedoms before they have been taught or gained a level of maturity to handle the responsibilities of the freedoms.

    One example I see is in the whole area of sex education. There is an assumption that young people are going to engage in sexual behavior, so we need to teach them how to “protect” themselves so they don’t have to face the consequences of it. Now we are seeing sexual activity in pre-middle school age children! I don’t hear of many paernts actually teaching their children NOT to have sex. In fact, too many parents of teenagers I talk to want to be their teenager’s friend. They don’t need any more friends. They need a father or mother who is not afraid to stand up to them and tell them, “No!”

    There has been a theory in raising young children that goes something like this: Don’t put limits on them lest you somehow squelch their creativity. I raised 5 children, and I can tell you from experience- they don’t need their creativity stimulated. They need it channeled. That is done by putting age appropriate limits on them and giving them specific directions. Some of the most stupid actions on the part of parents that I have seen is listening to them try to reason with a toddler! They don’t respond to reason at that age. They respond to firm, consistent direction. If you don’t get through to your child by the time he/she is 3 or 4 years old, you most certainly will not get through to them in their teens.

    All you young people protesting being “profiled”, I ask you, were you indeed drinking? And if so, why on earth do you think you should be able to get away with it? And I would encourage anyone who knows of someone providing alcohol for these teens, report them! They are not only breaking the law, they are poisoning these kids, just as sure as if they were mixing rat poison into their cokes!

  10. John, please point out to me where in the State law is says ‘public inebriation’ is against the law? That is too simple an argument, even in this important issue. I didn’t get past that part of your blog, because of that stopper. I asked the protesters to tell us their story. Lets hear it; pontification can come later, but, I suspect any dialog is going to have to be based on facts and grievances which are related to their specific protest; I for one will stand with them, then, not offer my ‘old man’s platitudes. Dean Kjerland

  11. I talked with one of the protesters tonight and she informed me that one of the group members would post some of the reasons for the protest soon. So I’ll hold off until then.

    I don’t wish to have an endless argument in which we will probably never see eye to eye.

    Wait… isn’t that the point of this site?

    Full disclosure: I’m a volunteer for Locally Grown. And I’m just teasing.

  12. Dean- Thank you, I stand corrected. If you look at the State of Mn. Statutes, section 340A.902, a person cannot be prosecuted for public drunkeness. This is not the case in every state, and I was responding from my experience in the state I used to live in. If you look at 340A.90, underage consumption of alcohol is illegal. I will stick to the case in point, here. This was a group of underage persons who had been drinking, and that is illegal. They got busted. Instead of protesting this, I would be more impressed with them if they had come out and said, “Sorry, folks. We broke the law. We will try to adhere to it now and wait until we are of legal drinking age.”

  13. Dean- Thank you for the correction. According to the Mn Statutes, 340A.902, a person cannot be prosecuted for public drunkeness. I stand corrected. Statute #340A.90 does state that it is illegal to consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. I will stick to the issue at hand. This group had been drinking, so they had broken the law. In doing this, they are taking themselves out from under the protection of the law. They got busted. I would be more impressed if they had come out and said, “Sorry. We were drinking. We will try to adhere to the law until we are 21.” Instead, they appear to be ducking responsibility for their actions and are blaming police for “profiling” them. I will stick to my duck analogy in my first post.

    Note. I had put in one post responding to this, and for some reason it did not come up. Probably operator problems on my part. If the other post appears, this is the reason it appears as a double post.

  14. Regarding being drunk in public, if you are not doing anything else, you are fine in Minnesota. We eliminated laws against public drunkeness some time ago. But, when police stop folks like this there is often something else going on. Many times the police find open bottle violations, damage to property, public urination, etc.

    I have another question that I’d like people to weigh in on. Nancy said in an earlier post:

    “There is a herion problem in northfield, no one is trying to say that this isn’t true.”

    Others have said even one heroin user is too much. I agree. Why then do we have the School Superintendent on the front page of the News saying the school district will not use drug dogs to check school property for drugs? Faribault and other area schools have used drug dogs for years and had very good results keeping things in check. Why would school professionals not want to use the tools at their disposal to keep schools safe and drug free?

    Help me understand this folks.

  15. Because drugs and dogs just don’t mix.

    Ray, are we talking about dogs sniffing down hallways and lockers when they are in the classrooms? Do you mean lockdowns in which drug dogs are allowed in the classrooms to sniff individuals as well? What would dogs be looking for? Alcohol? Heroin? Cocaine? Marijuana? Tobacco? PCP? NC-17 Movies? What exactly is meant by “drug dogs to check school property for drugs?” You were talking about the prison system, right? Just kidding.

    While technically legal, the ACLU has been taking up a legal leadership role in curbing, what they would feel, “violations to a student’s constitutional rights.” What they mainly have been fighting, with some success, are the random searches that aren’t specifically oriented toward an individual or individuals. In other words, those searches that targets everyone as a suspect.

    What is so very wrong with developing a positive relationship between youth and the police of this town? Drug dogs would not be a step in the right direction (the exact opposite). Doesn’t anyone understand that many (if not most) youth would detest this idea? Do you really want to create more mistrust and further divide the line between youth and police?

    I am all for a safe school and keeping drugs out of the school, but I think drug dogs send a wrong message. Why not keep searches at public schools consistent with constitutional protections? This way students can get first hand experience with more than just law theory, but law in action.

    Enough with the band-aid and “let’s just get em'” approach. We need trust, prevention, and an intergenerational approach. Anything less is “just a quick fix.”

  16. Even though I have no school age kids and never had kids in this school system, I would feel the schools were letting their principle constituents, their STUDENTS, down…….Big Time.. if they put dogs in the schools.

    First of all, the schools try to be sensitive to the age group they are dealing with, and trust is a big part of that issue. The kids themselves say that no one would keep drugs in their locker, many, maybe most, kids never use their lockers; some seniors say they have never used their lockers and don’t even know where they are!

    Kids who have “drugs” in school would keep them on their person, knowing that a personal search could only occur with strong probable cause.

    The community adults must get real on this subject.

    It is not only kids who use drugs. The key is equal enforcement , on all levels, and that goes from stopping cars to check licenses, to going for the dealers, WITHOUT a lot of excuses like” the investigation is not quite complete”. Get the investigation complete. Or if you can’t yet, go after the dealer with what you have and make them realize this community does not want to go easy on them.

    For the sake of honesty, all adults, would you, at age 14-18, wanted to spend your day in an environment of suspicion, complete with metal detectors, police at every door, and drug dogs in the halls? You, as adults, don’t spend your day in such an oppressive environment; Why would you wish that on our kids?

  17. You know I have to agree with Josh on this one. The idea of bringing drug-sniffing dogs into school is really repugnant.

    How about before we resort to treating teenagers like prisoners, we give comprehensive drug education a shot? This came up on the heroin thread too, if I recall, and it has serious potential to make a difference. Ditch D.A.R.E.

    For the sake of honesty, all adults, would you, at age 14-18, wanted to spend your day in an environment of suspicion, complete with metal detectors, police at every door, and drug dogs in the halls? You, as adults, don’t spend your day in such an oppressive environment; Why would you wish that on our kids?

    Exactly. The goal of a school is to educate kids, not search and question them.

  18. When I was a youth myself (~16yrs old) I was once walking around a public area in the evening (about 10PM if I remember correctly) with some buddies. We were rousted by the local constabulary and asked to provide identification. Nothing serious, and we just showed ’em our licenses and that was that. When I got home and told my dad (a real Goldwater-Republican conservative type) he was pretty ticked off. “You were just walking in public, there was no reason for you to have to prove who you were. They had no right to ask you for ID.” That was how he reacted then, and that is how I react now. The Bill of Rights is not just for academics. Being able to control your temper and politely claim your rights is fundamental to a free society. Protection of our rights is not just the job of those of us who took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution (e.g., the military fighting oversees), it is everyone’s job. And freedom is a right that requires calm and reasoned exercise daily.

  19. Sadly, I’m old enough to remember when guys who had Beatle haircuts were targeted, and then kids with tattoos, or long hair, or tight pants, or baggy pants. If only it were that easy. Seniors overmedicate, parents drink and drive and some cops and doctors and priests end up in rehab or jail.
    Since drug use is illegal at any age, maybe we need the police and their dogs doing an occasional lap through EconoFoods or Blue Monday or Just Foods. Would I mind? Perhaps on a George Orwell slippery slope into tyranny level, sure I’m opposed. I’m more opposed because I don’t think it’s a very effective method of catching major criminals.
    On the other hand, I hate taking my shoes off in the airport and standing in lines and going through the metal detector, but I get the argument about needing some safety in common public areas. Do they catch a lot of terrorists? Probably not. Is it a deterrant? I hope so.
    See, my point is that this seems to breaking down into another effort to determine right and wrong positions. A lot of life is about finding uncomfortable compromises to deal with lousy situations. Drug use is a lousy thing. If the schools use dogs, parents and students complain. If they don’t and a kid overdoses in school, parents and students complain — and sue — for not providing a safe environment.
    Fine, bust parties so drunks don’t get in their cars and drive and parents get the proof they need to bust the alibis of their cunning young tricksters. Use dogs in school if there’s a credible threat. Then take them down to the campuses and every bar where those who got outside to smoke aren’t just being polite.

  20. Josh- This concept of “…violations to a student’s constitutional rights” concept sounds really good on the outside. I ask you, are there young people using this smoke screen to try to get away with unlawful activity?

    I want to throw this postulate out as a point of discussion. Do we Americans have “rights” or do we have “privileges?” I have traveled to foreign countries, and, compared to most of them, we get off pretty good. Do you have a right to use drugs in school? If not, how is this to be enforced? Since many students keep these on their posession, how are these people to be weeded out? Is there any type of effective peer pressure program to get these kids back in line?

    For the parents, I ask- how do you respond to your kids being stopped for illegal substance use? Do you try to “get them off” or do you follow through and make them face the consequences? The concept of relationship between youth and authority starts in the home. If there has not been a respect of authority fostered in the home, how do you expect your kids to properly respond to authority in the community?

    I’m not sure we can come up with a simplistic solution that fits every situation, but there must be some foundational policy that can be implimented to handle the individual cases that come up. As far as “profiling” people, there has to be some guidelines as to what public behavior makes a person suspicious and what does not. I think Ray touched on this in his post. As far as putting drug sniffing dogs in the school, if this method has been an effective preventitive in other schools, I think we need to at least take a look at it. This may be repugnant, but so is identifying an overdose victim in a morg.

    Sean, you suggested to give “comprehensive drug education a shot.” How is the present drug education not comprehensive? It seems I hear about all this “education” on substance abuse, and it doesn’t appear to be having a widespread effect. Education needs to be followed up with consistent enforcement to really work.

  21. John,
    Guilty until proven innocent? Suggesting that if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t object to searches is inconsistent with America’s most fundamental idea of search and seizure:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    And how would you feel if the police started sending drug sniffing dogs into people’s homes under the justification that if you’re not doing drugs, you shouldn’t oppose it? Yes a school is a public place, but I think there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s locker.

    By “comprehensive drug education,” I guess I just mean “honest drug education.” I may be mistaken, but the general impression I got from the heroin thread was that Northfield Public Schools is continuing D.A.R.E.-style drug education, complete with its lies and exaggerations. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_Abuse_Resistance_Education#Criticisms.

    Also, for a more humorous approach, take a look at this PSA (also originally from the heroin thread):

  22. Sean- I still don’t see a corolation between stopping these teens and “guilty until proven innocent.” Ray Cox said in his post, “…when police stop folks like this there is often something else going on.” If an officer sees a car being driven erratically, there is probable cause to stop the car and investigate the driver. This not a case of “guilty until proven innocent.” It is a case of guilty because the driver is guilty. That is why I said in my earlier post that I would like to hear the other side. If it walks like a drunk (Oops! duck)….

    One thing that no one has brought up here is the concept of trust. Is trust an inalienable right or is it something to be earned?

  23. What Ray wrote is that we should have drug-sniffing dogs on the entire school. If a school has reasonable suspicion that a kid is keeping drugs in his locker (“reasonable” being, say, two or more staff members in regular contact with the student holding the suspicion), I don’t have a problem with the school searching it. It is the school’s property, after all.

    What I do have a problem with is searching everyone‘s lockers, since for the vast majority of kids, the search would not be reasonable.

  24. John,

    We come from two different backgrounds and I can sum it up pretty quick. I was taught to question authority – ask questions, don’t always assume someone is right or knows what’s best. There are bad parents, bad cops, bad teachers, bad government officials. And even good ones aren’t right all the time. We should all question authority a little (or maybe a lot and these days maybe even all the time). This does not mean the middle finger and a curse word, but a conversation that can at least lead to respect for a difference in opinion.

    I am starting with Ray’s assumption that drug dogs are effective in schools. Just because Ray Cox said this does not make it so (though I think Ray is an intelligent fellow). Even if Ray is correct that it is effective in Faribault does that mean it will be effective in Northfield? Also what does effective mean? If the point is to find drugs in the lockers it probably is effective. But then the big picture has been lost. If the point is to prevent people from dealing and buying drugs it is NOT effective. They will do so elsewhere, maybe even still at the school. I would feel much better if we did what Sean suggests, and that is honest drug education. A good relationship (which I keep harping about) between youth and cops would also helps things considerably. Drug dogs will not stop people from using; it will just cause people to be more careful about using. Just like busting house parties will not prevent youth from drinking. It will just bring it a little more underground. That doesn’t mean I don’t think we should bust house parties or bust youth that are obviously under the influence at school. But when you focus on this you lose sight of what is really important: preventing youth from using drugs.

    Back to Drug Dogs:
    The Supreme Court gets us closer and closer to a police state (slight overreaction here, only slight). Check out this link (below) about drug dogs and searches. Not specific to schools, but scary nonetheless. Read the whole thing because it gets juicy again at the bottom. ACLU – where you at?

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2005-01-24-drug-dog_x.htm

  25. A good relationship (which I keep harping about) between youth and cops would also helps things considerably.

    Josh, can teens and cops ever really have a good relationship? Youth will always drink and will always use drugs (hopefully this will exist in moderation, but it will never disappear). And for the foreseeable future, both will be illegal. It’s a pretty fundamental conflict that will always create an environment of distrust.

    Where I think trust really comes into play is — you guessed it — drug education. Kids might not be able to trust police officers, but they should at least be able to trust their teachers. It’s probably the most fundamental problem of D.A.R.E. style programs:

    1. Billy Smith learns in class that marijuana makes you addicted to meth instantly
    2. A few years later, Billy is at a party and tries pot. He wakes up the next morning and by some miracle, he does not have an insatiable urge for meth, heroin, or even cocaine.
    3. Billy realizes that his drug ed class was a load of crap, discards his belief in the whole thing and continues to try more and more extreme drugs, not realizing that the warnings he learned about those drugs were legitimate.
    4. Billy actually does become a meth head.

    Of course I’m exaggerating, but the basic process happens all the time. I’ve seen it happen to some of my own friends.

    That is not effective drug education.

  26. Lots of good comments on drug dogs…thanks folks. While on the school board for so many years I wrestled with privacy issues from time to time. We have also had clarification from the Supreme Court about privacy expectations in a public school locker, etc.

    My thought is that done properly, drug dogs should have much to offer school authorities. I’d much prefer to have a drug dog do his/her work instead of having officers stand there and paw through lockers. Dogs move very quickly, do their work out of sight of students, and from what I understand, are very thorough and accurate.

    As I said earlier, Faribault and other area schools have had good results with dogs.

    I think there has to be a concerted effort to keep drug use to a minimum, if not eliminate it altogether. No one is served by it. I have no idea about the amount of drugs being used by high school students and wonder if anyone does. When I read about the Superintendents quick denial about drug use and numbers I wonder if denial is part of the problem we are facing.

  27. Ray, I was also really disappointed with the school’s early response. Sara Shippy says that 15 high school students were treated for heroin/oxy problems during the 2006/2007 school year and that she believes there are some 60 students involved. Yet the school did nothing to notify parents or the community of the problem. (I believe Shippy says she notified Police Chief Smith when the problem was emerging, but he did nothing until the blogosphere forced his hand, and when according to Smith’s numbers, 150 to 250 young people were involved.) Perhaps earlier notification would have prompted earlier treatment in some of the people involved, or slowed the growth of the problem.

    Ironically, I remember when my kids were in grade school and there was an occasional outbreak of head lice. Kids in the affected classrooms were sent home with notes. Yet, a heroin outbreak is apparently not deemed noteworthy.

    That said, I think the school really is taking the problem seriously now and that the ideas that are going to be presented at the school board meeting tonight are good ones.

    I’d like to add a couple ideas for the school to consider. I think the parents of every student in the Northfield system should get a written pamphlet explaining what has been happening with this problem here, and list of resources available for help. Also, I’d like to see a community meeting at the school addressing the problem, explaining the school’s response and asking for suggestions. I’d like to see Carol Falkowski speak at this meeting.

    I know this link has been posted and discussed before on Locally Grown, but here it is again for those who may have missed it. It’s Carol Falkowski on MPR:

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2007/07/24/midday1/

  28. Wow this place got serious. Maybe overprivileged was the wrong word, how about fortunate. They are very fortunate to live where they do and when they protest where they live it rubs me the wrong way. The advantages they have available to them over kids in other town are great. They have every right to protest, but that also invites criticism and that’s what I did. I have no fancy websites to direct you to, or any federal documents to cite, just my opinion.

  29. The whole idea of parental notification seems to fly in the face of “student rights”. Unfortunately, I think this “rights” doctorine has done more to inhibit healthy communication than foster it. That is just my opinion and, no, I don’t have empirical evidence of it.

    Josh- I taught my kids the proper way to “question” authority and appeal to it. There is a proper way to do it. I would be glad to sit down with you face to face sometime and explain it. I’m not sure it is a proper task to take on in this blog. I don’t believe that rebelion and protests are an effective way to resolve conflict. They just indicate that there is conflict. I still believe that everyone thinks critical thinking (questioning) is fine until it is their own thinking that is getting critical analysis.

  30. Oh, for Pete’s sake…The original post was a picture of some citizens protesting what Griff indicated was ‘profiling’…seems it would be interesting to learn from the protesters specifically ‘who’s doing what to whom’…then everyone can either continue to babble on about whatever or perhaps focus on and contribute to the specific issue… Dean Kjerland

  31. Dean- Good point. I can see some overlap between this blog ond the one about ZAP. Does this protest foster communication or not?

  32. Once again I will make the point no one wishes to address. Drug Dogs will not stop or even mitigate drug use by youth. It will bust people at school but not slow down use or abuse. Just like busting house parties will not stop or even slow down underage drinking. Youth will just find another place to do this. I do think that house parties should be busted and that youth who are OBVIOUSLY under the influence at school should be busted (not via dog). But this loses sight of the big picture. Unless your philosophy is to bust and arrest everyone that we can, then we need to think about something else. Changing drug education (and making it more honest) will help. Plenty of ideas have come out The Key’s drug action meetings and even a supposed drug action committee (which I will pass along if I ever get the info). Developing ANY kind of relationship with youth and the cops will also help.

    Ray – I still don’t know what you mean by “good results” with drug dogs. Good results means more busts I assume? Well that’s obvious. More busts doesn’t mean less use. And, just to add to your statement that area schools have had good results, I can also say that many schools throughout the country have had BAD results and have had to eliminate drug dogs from their school.

    John – protesting is a basic right we all have. I have found it very effective. Throughout our history this is how mass movements voice their opinion. The civil rights movement was won in part because of protesting. Resolving conflict is important, but must come both ways. If cops don’t make an effort and youth don’t make an effort, then we have a problem. Don’t just blame the youth for this lack of harmony.

    I am also wondering if we will see a response from a protester. I have been told something will be written, but like you, have seen nothing yet.

  33. Josh- Protests are one way opinions are voiced. Editorials, public discussions, voting, for that matter, are other ways opinions are expressed. I agree that protesting is a way get things moving. I don’t know the inside issues of all the people involved in the protest, though I do know one person. Perhaps they have not gotten a response from their parents (my speculation).

    How about putting the shoe on the other foot? How many parents out there would be willing to “protest” their young people’s behavior and refusal to listen to them? I can see the placards now: “My Son Won’t Listen!”, “Wasteful Use Of The Money I Give Him!”, “Won’t Even Pick Up His Room!”, “Uses My Car All The Time And Won’t Buy Gas!”

    You also said, “Resolving conflict is important, but must come both ways. If cops don’t make an effort and youth don’t make an effort, then we have a problem.” This is the real crux of the matter. Now, how do we get this forum going?

  34. First of all I need to apologize. I was one of the culprits for starting the protest, and I was not aware until recently that it had stirred up the bee hive so much. I guess I will try to explain the past couple of weeks and our actions here.

    I guess the very beginning of this started with the press release and Star Tribune article, and after that a noticeble increase in police activity, especially after dark. At first I was glad to see the increased enforcement to combat the heroin problem, but instead of hearing about heroin busts all I heard from my friends was them being pulled over by cops for simply biking at night, or loitering outside of Blue Monday when they closed.

    This all became very close to home about a week ago when myself and three of my friends decided to have a few beers(yes we are underage) and walk down town to get a pizza. We crossed a street and cut through a backyard, and upon getting on the sidewalk were pulled over under suspicion of burglary. Knowing that we had not committed burglary we gladly handed our I.D’s over to the police officer, and were then sadly informed that we would be getting breathalized. While dissapointed we all accepted our punishment and lined up on the sidwalk. Then three more squad cars were called in. Before we knew it we were surrounded by eight police officers, all for four college buddies who decided to have a few beers and walk down town.

    Once again I have to reiterate that we are not upset that we recieved minors, we were upset at the excessive police force that was used and we felt that it was a waste of resources. When this happened and after we had heard of accounts all summer of kids who have been pulled over under assumptions of burglary, or heroin use, or a number of other interogations we decided to do something.

    We held the protest to raise awareness in the community that kids are being profiled, and often unfairly. If the police had released a statement saying they were going to crack down on bikers, walkers, loitering, and drinking then I would be much more understanding. But the police said they were going to target heroin. I hoped that would have meant dealers and users, not the rest of the youth who happen to be out after dark.

    Once again sorry this took a while to get up. This is an excellent town and I am thankful and privelaged to have grown up here and I believe the amount of community involvement and discussion has a lot to do with that. I’m not sure if I will be returning to Northfield next summer, but I hope that the youth of this town will be able to enjoy it as much as I did without the suspicion of being a criminal.

    Thank You, Bjorn Norgaard

  35. Bjorn- Thanks for the honest post. I really appreciate your demonstration of maturity! You exemplified that moreso than a number of adults I know, unfortunately. There is a proverb that goes something like this- A word of correction goes deeper into a man of understanding than ten blows on a fool. You are going to go far in life.

    As far as the police “warning” everyone that they were going to crack down on offenders, I’m not sure they need to make that announcement. After all, they are called “law enforcement” officers. I would agree that 8 officers on 4 college kids is a little overkill, but maybe it had been a boring shift. You can’t fault them for all wanting to get in on the excitement (Ha, ha).

    I will throw one more thing into the bees’ nest with something you brought up. I would appreciate it if police would crack down on a few bikers around town. I often am startled by bikers that do not signal turns and do not stop at stop signs. I’m not talking about the 10 & 12 year olds. I’m talking about the ones with grey hair that seem to think they can behave like a pedestrian on the street just because their vehicle doesn’t have a motor. But that is another blog subject.

    Josh- I’ve been thinking about your comment, “I was taught to question authority – ask questions, don’t always assume someone is right or knows what’s best. There are bad parents, bad cops, bad teachers, bad government officials. And even good ones aren’t right all the time. We should all question authority a little (or maybe a lot and these days maybe even all the time).” I’m sorry you have had bad experiences in your past with authority figures. It is apparent to me that those experiences have tainted your approach to all authority (“…maybe even all the time.”) Tell me, isn’t this a type of profiling, when you judge all authority as bad? Just wondering your opinion. You express yourself very well.

  36. Bjorn, I liked what you wrote. Are you considering writing (or have you already written) that experience in a letter to the editor? It would be helpful for more than just Locally Grown readers to get the story behind the protest.

    Though I agree that eight officers is way excessive, the example could be construed as a positive thing for profiling: that is, they were suspicious of you because you were youth out at night, and — as it turned out — you were doing something illegal.

    I often am startled by bikers that do not signal turns and do not stop at stop signs.

    In all fairness, John, I don’t know a single bicyclist who treats a stop sign as anything more than a yield sign 😉

  37. Bjorn, thanks for the honest response. I also agree with Sean that a letter to the editor for Northfield would be wise as well. I do think that it might be more effective for your case if the letter was written by someone who hadn’t been busted by the cops recently (or even better, never been busted). I do agree that the force was a little excessive, but I’ve seen 4 squad cars bust a skateboarder (for simply skating on the sidewalk downtown). Your situation isn’t going to get a lot of sympathy with people, though I think your case does have merit (I have others who have not been busted tell me about problems they have had or witnessed).

    John, you misunderstand what I am saying. I have had good and bad experiences with authority, like most of us have. My parents did a wonderful job teaching me to question authority. I don’t think all authority is bad (as you assume), I just don’t assume they (authority figures) are always correct. I question it, do a little research on a claim, and find out if I agree with the claim or not. That doesn’t mean I question everything authority says or does, but those that I think could be wrong. (Sometimes I miss things and sometimes I find out they were right after all). This could be a teacher, a police officer, a politician, my parents, a journalist, or even non-authority figures. I find out that people are wrong a lot of the time, which makes me a wiser person to know this. Imagine if I believed all the wrong things I’ve been told. I don’t think this is profiling, I think this is sensible. I only wish to obtain the truth. Just because someone has a title it doesn’t make them right. It is my job to question things if I believe them to be wrong. Otherwise I am just a sheep. And I ain’t no sheep. The comment about “maybe all the time” was a subtle political reference and I will leave out the politics. So, apologies for that.

    P.S. bikers? are you guys nuts? I think I worry a little more about crazy drivers

  38. Josh- Thanks for responding, and in a clear way. This really helps me understand better where you are coming from. I have run across people in the past who seem to question authority just because it IS authority. I admit, this is a holdover from my experiences with war protesters in the late ’60s & early ’70s. Forgive me for projecting this attitude onto you. Your questioning is not of the authority but actions the authority does, if I’m hearing you correctly. This is healthy for any society.

    As far as drivers vs. bicyclers, I don’t think the problem lies in what type of vehicle a person is on or in. The problem lies in a casual attitude toward traffic laws. These laws are put into place for our protection and the protection of others. When we choose to ignore or disobey them, we are creating a dangerous situation. It reminds me a little of a jibe one of my fishing buddies throws out when he sees an officer stopped with a speeder, “He ought to be out catching crimminals instead of harrassing some poor innocent speeder!” (As if any lawbreaker is innocent.) Unfortunately, our society shows tendancies of moving toward anarchy. Your generation is going to be very instrumental in either stemming this tide or increasing it.

    Just a reaction to the many officers that seem to respond to an infraction. I remember when we first moved to Northfield, and I was reading the police report in the News. One entry was, “…a dead cat was reported on Hwy. 3…” I’m still laughing over that one! What big excitement for the town!

  39. I know this is a tangent, but John, I had to point out my personal favorite from the Northfield police log, from this past October:

    “Two men were reported walking and carrying shoes in the 200 block of Greenvale Avenue. Officers made contact with the men.”

    And anarchy? Isn’t that a tad dramatic? After all, 80 years ago there were far fewer traffic regulations and one would hardy call it an anarchist society. Josh makes a good point, too. On a bicycle, the worst someone can do is hurt themselves, give a driver a scare, or maybe lightly injure a pedestrian. Now put that person in a Suburban.

  40. Sean- Great example! I return to my earlier observation- maybe it was a boring shift. Also, there are no details about the “suspects” carrying the shoes. Maybe they were just not “well heeled”! (I know! There is nothing like a good joke…)

    As far as anarchy goes, it doesn’t matter how many laws are on the books. Anarchists refuse to submit to a central authority, namely, government. They choose to do whatever they feel like, in spite of how it may affect others. This and “self” focus, as opposed to “common good” focus, can really erode the cement that holds societies together.

    The point on the bicyclists is accurate. I still contend that it doesn’t matter what you drive or ride, the traffic laws apply to you if you are using the street right-of-way. And, I also have had TOO MANY close calls with Suburbans and Hummers. My first referal to bicyclists was a response to a comment that Bjorn made. I think he was inferring a “look the other way” attitude with law enforcement regarding them. I thought he had a good point.

  41. John:

    My understanding of Anarchism is not

    “As far as anarchy goes, it doesn’t matter how many laws are on the books. Anarchists refuse to submit to a central authority, namely, government. They choose to do whatever they feel like, in spite of how it may affect others.”

    but that, like Libertarianism, the effort is to decentralize decision-making as much as possible.

    Although not an expert on the subject, I would envision this balance of decision-making power along the lines of local people deciding where infrastructure expenditures are most needed, as opposed to someone sitting in an office in Washington, D. C., and that there would be some basic national standards for the civil rights of blacks, reds, Jews, Muslims, gays, and lesbians, as opposed to having these standards set by a group of white, Christians in Birmingham, Alabama.

    Just my thoughts,

    Ross

  42. I can no longer refrain from asking this question/making this comment…………….it seems to me, JG, that no matter which thread you comment on, the comment takes on the nature of seeking “transformation”. Am I reading something into this? Are you the designated spokesperson for a particular point of view? Am I assuming too much by adding on to that thought your first name familiarity with the “prayer ladies”, and others close to, if not involved with, that religious persuasion?

    I understand that a person in town who has tried repeatedly to contact the “prayer ladies” , and not had any calls returned, finally received a call from a MAN who had been designated to contact the caller, and who described the “prayer ladies” as being “victimized” by the public attention, and
    then entered into a “duel” of scripture quotes.

    I guess my bottom line question is: are you the designated “point person” or do you just have a lot of time, like other retired persons, like me for example.

  43. Ross- According Uncle Noah (Webster, that is) anarchism is the theory that all forms of government interfere unjustly with individual liberty and should be replaced by the voluntary association of cooperative groups. Anarchy is the complete absence of goverrnment and the associated state of lawlessness.

    Now I am all for decentralization of government. If I wasn’t, I would be a Democrat. I am not a Libertarian, either, in the sense that I recognize the need for a central government and a set of laws to keep society in order. I believe these laws must supercede individual perceptions of “rights”. If they do not, then we fall into anarchy.

    As far as, “…having these standards set by a group of white, Christians in Birmingham, Alabama,” I am less likely to be offended by these than a bunch of people of NO ehtical standards in Washington setting the standards. Fortunately, neither is true.

    I am reminded of the question a citizen posed to Benjamin Franklin after the first continental congress. He asked him what type of government they had established. Franklin replied, “We have given you a republic. Now, see if you can keep it.” Our government is not a democracy in the sense that we all have an equal voice in writing laws. We elect representatives (hence- republic) to do that for us. If they don’t do the job like we prefer, we can vote them out of office.

    This format also allows for local government to take care of the local needs. This way, the moguls in Washington aren’t supposed to be dictating the specifics of how local needs are to be taken care of. Unfortunately, this pattern seems to have begun to erode over the last couple decades, in my opinion.

  44. Kiffi (or should I say “Viffe”, or “Kictor”. I’m never quite sure which one of you I am addressing)- I wondered how long it would take for you to rise to the bait! I was missing your input on this. (Just a joke there)

    As far as being a spokesperson for Transformation Northield, no, I am not. I just happen to agree with what they are doing. I know that may put me on the opposite side of your viewpoint, but that is what makes for lively discussions. How boring would it be if everyone agreed? Ho-hum!

    Also, I am not retired. I just don’t happen to work on Mondays & Tuesdays. I do believe I have a right to express my viewpoint, especially in a format such as this. I don’t agree with the opinion that we, as Christians, must remain a silent, inert part of society. I just think that critical thinking can be applied to any situation. That is why I take the opportunity to question some of the things that have been happening in the town of recent.

    I believe that a Biblical world view is defendable, and I intend to do just that. Biblical truth is not some unatainable myth. It is pertinent to ourselves, our society and the world. If you don’t agree with that, it is fine. I don’t think I have to apologize to anyone for having that viewpoint. If you have, as you stated in another stream, a strong core, then I don’t think the basis of my opinions should be a threat to you. In fact, I think it is good to be exposed to them, like me being exposed to yours. It gives me the opportunity to really prove or disprove what I believe. As it is said, iron sharpens iron. Don’t give up the dialogue. It is just getting interesting!

    Now, back to the protest and the kids’ right to launch it.

  45. Sean wrote:Yes a school is a public place, but I think there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy in one’s locker.

    If there is privacy in a locker, there must be privacy in a pocket, too. I don’t think so.

    Kids talk about trust, but what about kids doing the right thing so parents can trust them…that’s what really works well.

    Bjorn wrote in #34:
    Before we knew it we were surrounded by eight police officers, all for four college buddies who decided to have a few beers and walk down town.

    I think you need at least two officers per person these days, due to the fact that you don’t know who you may be stopping, the availability of high powered guns, people on drugs that raise up their physical strength several times over.

    Kids shouldn’t be trying to direct police processes that they don’t understand…given they have less experience with such things and have made no attempt to understand what police face each day. I don’t want over zealous police, but I don’t want dead ones, either.

    When we were kids, officers chased us around for smoking. We thought it was a huge joke, but come to find out, it wasn’t that funny after all, as the surgeon general’s warning came out sometime after that. Don’t worry, Anne, being old is cool and fun!

  46. Hey Bright,

    You’re kind of a paranoid individual, ain’t ya? Or at least a wild imagination. Teenagers roaming the streets of Northfield at night. On bikes. With guns. On PCP. Monsters in the street. Yep. The Northfield we all know and love.

  47. I agree that the police do have a dangerous and necessary job in our society, and for that I comend and respect them. However, I view police in a protective role. While part of that protective role does mean being pro-active in some senses I don’t believe police should go out with the intention of busting as many people as possible(no matter how boring the shift). Especially when many of those busts are for pettier violations and not the issue at hand; heroin.

    Another issue from that infamous Friday night that still lingers with me is the closure of our encounter with the police. After recieving our tickets we were told to have a safe night and they sent us on our way. My friends and I stood dumbfounded on the sidewalk; no offer for a ride, a phone call, a seizure of keys, or even a stict lecture about heading home or not driving. We actually continued down town for several more blocks before calling my sound asleep (and quite sober) sister for a ride home. If my friends and I, as well as the rest of the youth are all potential dopped up, gun slinging gangsters then why turn us loose on the town again?

    And also Bright, myself and many other youth understand perfectly well how certain police policies work. The youth are the ones dealing with these policies every night when they are eye balled by every cop driving by or surrounded by officers.

    Lastly, I don’t think the police were chasing you around for smoking cigarettes because they didn’t want you to get lung cancer. If that was the case then a lot of adults would be in trouble and our Muni wouldn’t sell them.

  48. Bright,

    If there is privacy in a locker, there must be privacy in a pocket, too. I don’t think so.

    Well, actually, yes. We don’t just randomly search student’s persons, nor should we randomly search their lockers. My problem is not with schools or police who search the lockers of those for whom there is reasonable suspicion. My problem is with these ridiculous blanket searches — assuming that everybody must be guilty and that if they don’t have anything to hide they shouldn’t object.

    We certainly don’t ask people to empty their pockets with the same lack of provocation.

  49. Sean- Speaking of blanket policies, have you tried flying anywhere recently? I went overseas in March, and I didn’t think I was going to get out of Chicago! My offense? Being the possessor of a titanium hip joint! I even offered to show them my scar, but they were convinced by then. Unfortunately, a few bad apples have spoiled the whole barrel. I agree with Bright in her assessment of what might happen in a police stop. Unfortunately, some of the risks that used to be only in larger metro areas have moved to small towns, and I don’t think we are being paranoid. This trend has resulted in the deaths of a few outstate officers because they were too trusting and not vigilant.

    Also, Bjorn, the officers’ reaction to the situation by letting you go could be a demonstration on their part that they did not determine you to be a risk. It would be good to hear their opinion on that, but I know they cannot express it here. Unfortunately, once they were aware of your drinking, it put them in a real bind to just turn the other way as if nothing had happened. With all the break-ins in town this summer, it seems plausible to me that they would be suspicious of ANYONE walking out of a backyard in the darkness. Just my guess on that part. It does seem a little unhospitable for them to not offer you a ride, but if it wasn’t raining, I could see that. It could also be that they were a little embarassed over the incident, but enough speculation on things we don’t know.

    I would suggest this. There has been a lot of good discussion regarding building better communications between law enforcement and youth. This is a really good thing, and any way this could be promoted is worth the investment. I don’t think that the officers can get to know EVERY young person in town, but just getting to know ANY of you is better than none.

  50. Kiffi: You wrote, “…it seems to me, JG, that no matter which thread you comment on, the comment takes on the nature of seeking ‘transformation’.”

    Can you give me an example of one or more of John’s comments that made you think that he was “seeking ‘transformation?'” Also, what do you mean by “seeking ‘transformation.'” I am curious why you singled out his comments.

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