Commentary: Beneath the Frey

Despite generations of failure, major cities — from Baltimore and Chicago to Milwaukee and Minneapolis — seem disinterested in dismissing Democrat leadership.

A.J. Kaufman

In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.

Despite generations of failure, major cities — from Baltimore and Chicago to Milwaukee and Minneapolis — seem disinterested in dismissing Democrat leadership.

The irony is that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was considered the least radical choice among 2017 finalists, which says something about Minnesota’s DFL. Hailing from a privileged background, including top east coast private schools, Frey was elected at just 36. He won, after five rounds, because all other candidates were socialists or an unpopular incumbent. At the time, he’d only lived in Minnesota seven years, after joining an elite law firm upon arrival and working as a “community organizer.”

If crises test leadership, Frey is failing miserably during the horrifying riots. He is feckless, inconsistent and shows no leadership. He took over 72 hours to get serious, only after receiving a harsh tweet from the president, which he mocked. He also announced a fictional curfew, abandoned a police precinct, and didn’t communicate for three days as his city burned and residents suffered.

Leadership matters. Why were the Minneapolis riots, Baltimore’s in 2015 and Ferguson’s in 2014, so chaotic and violent, but nothing occurred in 2015 South Carolina, when an unarmed black man was killed by an officer and nine others massacred in a church two months later? In the Palmetto State, credit consistent leadership from then-Gov. Nikki Haley. She worked with the Democrat mayor to calm the community, while citizens lifted each other up and peace prevailed. (In her 2019 memoir, Haley writes that Pres. Obama was not helpful during this time.)

Frey couldn’t even collaborate with his own party, let mayhem ensue and citizens were forced to defend themselves from domestic terrorists. 

Frey’s not alone. Many progressive politicians are authoritarian when arresting a father and daughter playing softball but avoid calling for law enforcement to quell the types of feral folks Obama once called thugs. Instead of acknowledging they failed their vulnerable community, Twin Cities politicians blamed outsiders, which was NOT the case as proven by jail records.

The “conservatives protest but liberals riot” adage holds true today. People the media recently mocked for showing up with guns and flags at state capitols didn’t loot or burn. Got that, Ali Velshi? The press uses different standards for wanton behavior with which they agree.

And while Frey didn’t say harebrained things like Baltimore’s mayor five years ago, he also didn’t assuage concerns with a powerful speech like Atlanta’s Democrat mayor delivered Friday night.

On Saturday, Minnesota GOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan called on Frey and Gov. Tim Walz, who’s been almost equally inept, to resign, writing in part:

“You failed George Floyd. You failed our police. You stood by and watched this city burn four straight nights. You showed you are not equipped to run our state and largest city. You decimated Minneapolis. You decimated lives. Your inaction has led to riots all over this country.”  

Late last year I published a Star-Tribune editorial that became one of the top 10 reads of 2019. One passage mentioned Frey:

“The Washington, D.C.-area native arrived here in his 20s and went into community organizing before becoming a civil rights attorney. Frey recently tripled his Twitter followers and earned national notoriety after saying President Donald Trump’s “message of hatred will never be welcome in Minneapolis” and then sending Trump a security bill for his rally 25 times higher than President Barack Obama received for a presidential visit. The Star Tribune Editorial Board rightly took Frey to task for disrespecting his constituents, noting the mayor “had an opportunity to rise above partisan politics and showcase Minneapolis as a welcoming community — even for those with whom they disagree. It’s a shame he chose to convey a very different message.””

I understand it’s difficult to put divisive rhetoric aside when a racial arsonist like Keith Ellison is attorney general. He initially called the riots “distracting conduct” and suggested police shouldn’t stop them. On Fox News Sunday, he doubled down, inarticulately claiming Minneapolis blacks have reason to fear local police.

Along with nitwit celebrities washed-up athletes and Joe Biden’s campaign, our languid press support criminal activity while sipping kombuchas in their easy chairs; they never deal with the consequences of what rioters foment.

Like many hyper-ideological blockheads, Frey appears fearful of offending his donors, so he simply lies.

When thousands in poor communities are dying in July because of spikes in COVID-19 — their neighborhoods decimated, jobs gone and lives upended — will the same millionaire celebrities, athletes and NPR types, who spent three months hyperventilating about social distancing, still defend the riots?

Returning to the beginning, does it go both ways? Minneapolitans elected a pajama boy with limited life experience to lead their city; perhaps voters are partly responsible for the results?