Monday, February 16, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: State Rep. Jim Abler Shoots Off His Mouth To Northside Youth (Accidentally Hits His Own Foot...What Will He Use To Plug The Bullet Hole?)
Cell Phone Photo, Jeff Skrenes
Today, at the State Capitol Building, the Northside Policy Action Coalition (NPAC) gathered to lobby legislators over North Minneapolis issues. One of the issues was different ways to approach youth violence. And that's when it happened...
A group of residents--both youth and adults--were discussing different approaches to the problem of youth violence in North Minneapolis. One suggested approach--not really tied to any particular legislative initiative, much to its detriment, but that's beside the point--was whether youth violence could be dealt with by reclassifying the problem as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice issues.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking...why? The logic behind this idea is apparently that a 13-year-old who commits a crime should not be thrown headfirst into the criminal justice system, just yet. And I would respond: they're not. "Juvie" is nothing like the adult criminal justice system. But regardless of the merits of either side of this issue, it was clear NPAC and a state rep named Jim Abeler did not agree.
Abeler, (R-48B) represents the cities of Anoka and Ramsey. During this discussion about different approaches to youth violence, Abeler took out some of his campaign kitsch--some wooden nickels, as picture above--and gave some to several of the youth and adults. Now here's where it got kind of bizarre.
Keep in mind, this is third hand info, so this may not be a verbatim quote, but somebody who was there actually did write down what was reported by somebody who heard it directly. This is what Abeler said, or words very close to this:
"If you get shot, use this to plug the bullet hole."
THIS apparently refers to the wooden nickels.
This offhand remark did not go over very well. In fact, one person (Cheryl Morgan-Spencer of the Urban League) brought one of the wooden nickels back to return to Abler, because she didn't want to have it after hearing that, to (in her words) show him how much it was worth to her, which was nothing. Abeler then tried to defend his utterance by saying that he "only said it to the boys," as if the girls just magically didn't hear it because it was only intended for "the boys."
Thus, it appears Abeler actually managed to get off two rounds, both hitting the same target--his political foot.
One person prominent in North Minneapolis affairs says that this is simply unacceptable, that it furthers a stereotype about North Minneapolis and, more importantly, it devalues the civic contribution that the youth were making that day by talking to elected officials. Members of NPAC are demanding a public apology from Abler--according to my source--and, furthermore, they encourage anybody who agrees to contact Abler and here is the contact info:
Jim Abeler (R-48B)
100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
State Office Building #203
St Paul MN
This info is from the Minnesota State Reps handbook, which is public info. Also, please note, if you do contact Representative Abeler, do not cuss, or threaten, or be disrespectful, as that will only reinforce his stereotypes.
And, allow me to add this: wooden nickels? If there was a time in America when wooden nickels were actually funny, that time is not within the historical memory of the vast majority of American society.