Photo Credit: Screenshot of WCCO video
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is the bravest man in America. The fact that he is Jewish makes me doubly proud of him. On Saturday (OK, that part we’ll have to overlook) he stood in the midst of thousands of angry black men and women who confronted him outside his home with the direct question: “Will you commit to defunding police, yes or no?” And the mayor said: “I do not support the abolition of the police.”

The tweet below is rife with expletives. If you are disturbed by these — and how can I blame you — please refrain from watching.

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The woman with the microphone on stage pulled away in visceral rage, screaming “Get the [expletive] out of here,” and the mob followed Frey’s walk between rows of blacks who could have easily murdered him on live TV, and were shouting, “Go home, traitor, go home.”

I’ve follow politics for a living since the 1970s, I served in the IDF during the 1973 war, I lived in NY City when the South Bronx was on fire in the late 1970s, early 1980s, I’ve watched so many politicians talking the talk but skirting away from walking the walk – but I’ve never seen a politician so clearly remaining a mench, taking responsibility for the enraging failures of his police department, asking forgiveness for them, promising to repair these deep faults in his own administration, and then standing up to the mob and refusing to betray his own beliefs.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-Min) told the same crowd of angry African Americans in Minneapolis: “We need to completely dismantle the Minneapolis police department.” With her typically inflammatory statement she not only fed the crowd the slabs of meat it was looking for, she also willfully ignored the steps already taken up by the Minneapolis city government to fix its police department.

On Friday, in an emergency vote, the Minneapolis City Council approved an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights to launch a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department in the wake of the George Floyd murder.

The agreement states that “black, Indigenous, and communities of color have suffered generational pain and trauma as a result of systemic and institutional racism and long-standing problems in policing. This continuous harm was once again highlighted by the in-custody death of George Floyd.”

Mayor Jacob Frey signed the agreement Friday, which already included several key restraints of police behavior: a ban on chokeholds and neck restraints; officers must intervene and make a report if they witness excessive use of force by a fellow officer, regardless of rank; use of crowd-control weapons (e.g. tear gas and rubber bullets) can only be done with the approval of the chief of police.

After his brave encounter with the angry demonstrators, Mayor Frey told CBS station WCCO: “If you’re asking whether I’m for massive structural reform to revise a structurally racist system the answer is ‘yes.’ If you’re asking whether I will do everything possible to push back on the inherent inequities that are literally built into the architecture the answer is ‘yes.’ If you’re asking whether I’m willing to do everything I possibly can throughout the rest of my term to make sure that the police union, the police contract, the arbitration system, and some of these policies that have resulted in problems for specifically Black and Brown people and murder over series of generations, I’m all for that. I’m not for abolishing the entire police department, I will be honest about that.”

You are honest and brave, Mayor Jacob Frey, and I’m proud to have stood next to you at Mount Sinai 3,400 years ago, never mind what you do on Shabbes.

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