Interview of Deseria Galloway

Interviewer: 00:28 Before you start, my name is… What’s your name?

Speaker 2: 00:37 Deseria Galloway.

Interviewer: 00:38 Nice to meet you.

Deseria : 00:39 Nice to meet you.

Deseria : 00:42 Okay, Deseria Galloway.

Interviewer: 00:45 Okay, so [inaudible 00:00:46].

Speaker 3: 00:45 Well thank you for coming in. We just want to go over some of the questions just about your experiences in North Minneapolis.

Deseria : 00:58 Okay.

Interviewer: 01:01 Okay, so can I have you say your first and last name with the spelling, please?

Deseria : 01:07 Deseria Galloway. D-E-S-E-R-I-A, Galloway, G-A-L-L-O-W-A-Y.

Interviewer: 01:15 Okay, so referring to the map right there, do you currently live or have you lived near this part of Minneapolis?

Deseria : 01:24 I lived in North Minneapolis for approximately 12 years.

Interviewer: 01:27 About 12 years?

Deseria : 01:28 Yes.

Interviewer: 01:30 Okay. So part two, thinking back from when you first came to this area til today, what changes have you seen, positive or negative changes?

Deseria : 01:40 I would have to say they’re negative.

Interviewer: 01:42 Negative?

Deseria : 01:43 Yeah.

Speaker 3: 01:45 What type of changes?

Interviewer: 01:46 Yeah, I was just going to say that.

Deseria : 01:54 Respect, level of respect for the elderly or the older persons in the community. The youth are disenchanted and feeling like they have nothing to lose so they live their life like that. So they don’t respect themselves and they don’t respect others. And will say, not just youth, I think that our adults and our elderly …Our older persons, not necessarily our elderly, but the older persons in the community have contributed to that because whether they’re just working two or three jobs to keep ends meeting, keeping food on the table, whether that is just going out to the bars on the weekend getting a break from their kids. All those factors contributed to the deterioration of North Minneapolis.

Interviewer: 02:44 Okay. What do you feel caused the changes you’ve seen in the area?

Deseria : 02:49 Well, as I just said some of them.

Interviewer: 02:50 Yeah, you did.

Deseria : 02:55 And I guess part of it is the deterioration of the family. You’ve got young mothers having young kids and then that continue to spiral out of control. And so I will say that I do believe that service providers in the area don’t always provide services equitably to everyone, especially children of color or youth of color, whether they don’t … Whether they’re fearful, whether they don’t care about them I don’t know, but i have seen agencies get the money but they don’t do the work.

Interviewer: 03:39 Right. You don’t know why you feel this way?

Deseria : 03:44 Because I’ve seen it happen.

Interviewer: 03:46 Okay.

Speaker 3: 03:46 And what type of agencies?

Deseria : 03:50 Human services agencies and that includes the medical professionals in this area as well. Our mothers, our young moms are afraid to go and get prenatal care, fearful that they’ll end up in child protection. I understand the importance of child protection. I used to do it for 24 years as an investigator, but I think we need to figure out a way to engage with our young people in a different way, in a creative and innovative way so they’re not afraid to come forward and get the help that they need.

Interviewer: 04:28 Okay. So I’m going to this?

Speaker 3: 04:28 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Interviewer: 04:35 All right. We are gathering these stories to increase understanding between the City of Minneapolis and the community on the impact of historic discriminatory government policies and practices in the areas like housing, transportation, and economic development and more. Examples including housing and employment discrimination in the early 20th century, the War on Drugs in the 1990s and others. What impact have these policies or others had on the community in general? What impact have they had with you?

Deseria : 05:25 Well, wow. The War on Drugs I think was manipulated and abused, and they targeted our youth and our families. A lot of the mass incarceration has contributed to the War on Drugs. And so, with that in mine, I understand the need to manage illicit drugs in the community but the way it was done … There could’ve been another way to have done that. We have hundreds and hundreds of young men who now have felonies. They cannot get a job. They cannot get houses. It starts with that … The War on Drugs … a lot of them got those felonies and now they’re stuck. And if they don’t have a second chance program, such as Wellspring or other agencies then it makes it difficult for them to be able to move forward, propel forward, to live their life even after they’ve changed, even after they’ve gotten their second chance scraping and scrambling and getting the churches in the community to come forward to help them.

Deseria : 06:41 Housing, discrimination as far as employment, they all go hand in hand. Housing is just one major factor. Why is it that North Minneapolis has an outrageous number of sex offenders in the area? Can somebody tell me why they drown this area with that? How can an area like North Minneapolis thrive and be successful when you overly populate that community with those kind of people? You know what I mean? I know they have a need to place to go, but it should be equitable across board All communities should get a piece of that, not just North Minneapolis. It’s an excessive amount of people in this area with those charges.

Deseria : 07:31 The war on drugs I think … the issues with drugs, because I’ve served the community of North Minneapolis … People say I do the drugs … Some do the drugs so they can just go home and not have to contend with tomorrow or the [inaudible 00:07:50] next to them. People do it to escape. People do drugs to feed their kids because they can’t get another job because they have a felony. So it’s a cycle that continues to go through the washer and it doesn’t get clean. You just have to keep washing it and washing it and it never comes clean. The stains remain and they’re not given a second chance. Even though we say we give them a second chance, the felonies does not allow them to get a second chance.

Deseria : 08:22 So our housing discrimination is allowed to continue because that is a discriminatory practice. Just because they have a felony does not allow them to … They’re not dogs. They’re not animals. They deserve a place to lay their head. If a person does not have a place to lay their head, how do you expect them to get up and go to a job? To go get a job? That’s a basic staple in a person’s life, to be able to lay your head down safely in a clean apartment so you can get up in the morning and go look for a job, but if you don’t have that staple as housing, that’s a problem.

Deseria : 09:01 Transportation, that’s a joke. I can speak to that all day. The transportation for North Minneapolis … I think they’re targeted. The police wait for them to get off the buses and they watch where they go and that’s a done deal. So transportation, which a lot of our people of color in North Minneapolis has depended on is a problem. I don’t put my kids on public transportation. I wouldn’t put my kids on that public transportation due to the behaviors that go on on the bus. So I know that the police is necessary on what part of it but on the other end I think there’s some issues there, too.

Deseria : 09:43 People have a tendency to do like the Romans do. So, if one person’s acting like that, they’re all going to act like that. So, that’s kind of my spill on the … The War on Drugs I think was a catapult to some of the other problems that we’re seeing though.

Interviewer: 10:01 Okay. What changes have you seen in this community that raise a level of stress or concern about it’s future?

Speaker 3: 10:06 And what part does the-

Interviewer: 10:09 Yeah, what part does the city of Minneapolis need to play in relieving that stress?

Deseria : 10:13 What part does the City of Minneapolis need to play? Give our young men and women jobs, livable wages, not minimum wage, livable wages. And give everybody … Everyone deserves a second chance. A person’s mistakes should not define them. Jobs, that’s a huge piece. I know there’s some brothers out here that would take a job if they were offered a job, okay? So, that’s number one. Employment is one. The other one is housing. If you’re going to give them a fresh start, give them a real fresh start. You know what I mean? We can do a pilot even of housing for ex-offenders. If you’ve got a felony we’ll rent to you but it’s kind of like on a pilot. If you can demonstrate that you’re working and you’re trying to do better then let them get the apartment just like normal Joe could get an apartment, okay?

Deseria : 11:16 So I think those are the kind of things that we need to readdress. Housing for everyone, equal opportunity. You know what I mean? Equal opportunity employer, give them a job. You know what I mean? The homeless, we should be … They wouldn’t be homeless if we gave them a job. They stand on the corner for sometimes eight hours collecting money. Give them a job. Walk up to that young man or woman and say, “Do you need a job?” That’s what the City of Minneapolis … If you’re going to put some money into something let’s direct it to those disenfranchised individuals like the homeless, like the people with felonies, like single moms who can’t get a job because they don’t have no day care. Day care’s just … That’s a huge … That’s why we leave our babies with people that shouldn’t have our kids, crack addicts. That’s why we leave our kids with people that don’t need to care for our kids for day care.

Deseria : 12:11 These are things … If you want to invest, make it affordable for everybody who wants to work to have their kids in day care, not just some people, those that can afford it. Everybody should have a right to put their kids in day care. So that’s just … The City of Minneapolis, if you want to do something and contribute to the recovery and help this community thrive again, you’re going to need to be creative and innovative and willing to give everybody a fresh start no matter what their background is.

Interviewer: 12:44 Okay, you basically said it, but what gives you hope for the future of this community and what part does the City of Minneapolis need to play in creating a more hopeful future?

Speaker 3: 12:56 It sounds like we got the City of Minneapolis part.

Deseria : 13:00 Well, and stop putting us … Why don’t we do stories on people who are doing well in the community? It is so discouraging to see the news and watch the news, and when a crime is committed we shiver in our boots saying, “I hope they’re not black.” We shouldn’t have to say that. That is so sad. And so, giving hope to the community would come with honesty and transparency. We’re here to help, not to judge. I think the City of Minneapolis needs to work a little bit more closely with community organizations, non-profits. Not just give funding to the designated few that provide the services now. It needs to be more equitable, minority lead, women lead, male lead that are of minority descent. Give it to those who are doing the work and who’s out here hitting the trenches doing the real work instead of giving it to the agencies who keep getting money on top of money and they do less and less work.

Interviewer: 14:21 When you think about this area today, what impacts do you still see from historic government policies?

Deseria : 14:32 Historic government policies. Well, we talked about it. There’s rules on the books that prohibit people to get jobs and that’s the felonies. We got Ban the Box. I congratulate us in our success as the State of Minnesota. We got that Ban the Box, but there is other ways that people are figuring out how to eliminate that person with a felony. And actually, to be honest with you, the talent pool of people who have felonies is huge. What am I saying? Those that made a mistake when they were teenagers or near teenagers, 18 years old and they got that felony that’s now on their record as an adult, that’s a talent pool that we’re missing. You know what I mean?

Deseria : 15:26 We got artists, we got engineers, we got people with creative minds that could be doing some great things in the City of Minneapolis if given a chance. That is a talent pool that we need to tap into. We’re missing the boat when we eliminate them. So we need to tap in and maybe come up with some kind of program. If you have a felony, we got jobs for you. You know what I mean? And there not just … I’m not talking about McDonald’s and Burger King. I’m not talking about those kinds of jobs. I’m talking about livable wages jobs. If they have a felony, some of them can’t even go to school, get a higher education because of their felonies. That’s the kind of stuff that we need to be working on, changing rules and regulations that are prohibiting them to live their life like a normal human being.

Interviewer: 16:22 How would you describe the relationship between the City of Minneapolis and this community over here over the years?

Deseria : 16:28 I don’t think people trust the City of Minneapolis. Look at some of the people that have been killed in the North Minneapolis area. And so I don’t think that it’s communicated effectively and with transparency and authenticity that they care about this community. We are a rich community. Pull the covers back and you’ll find them. You know what I mean? So I think that the relationship right now is strained. I think that we need to do a better job of hitting the streets, talking to the community agencies that are doing the work and asking them, how can we help? How can we better collaborate to make a greater impact within the city of North Minneapolis? You sitting down at City Hall, you don’t have a pulse of North Minneapolis. You need to be talking to the persons who have the pulse of North Minneapolis, those that are providers in this area, community agencies that are providers. The faith-based community is huge. These are starting points. Listen to what we have to say so you can get a better understanding so we don’t keep going in this spinning wheel and not getting anything done. So, it’s strained. I would just have to say it’s strained.

Interviewer: 18:00 Yeah, I feel you. What are your expectations of the City of Minneapolis related to this community? To what extent do you trust the City of Minneapolis to deliver on those expectations?

Speaker 3: 18:11 You kind of touched on that.

Deseria : 18:14 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Deseria : 18:20 I don’t think North Minneapolis believes that they care. If they cared they would do something about it.

Interviewer: 18:28 Yeah. So last question. What part do you feel you can play in creating a more hopeful future?

Deseria : 18:40 I’m a philosopher of second chances as you’ve probably already picked up. I truly do believe that everybody deserves a second chance. This community unfortunately is overwhelmed with people with felonies, overwhelmed with people with issues whether it be addiction, whether it be homelessness. This is the community that’s getting hit at a higher rate than any other community, and until we address that … And I think that community agencies such as ours, we will continue to work very hard and diligently trying to extend hope and let them know that we are here. You know what I mean? But in order to continue the work we have to get the monies to continue the work. The churches have to continue in collaboration with the City of Minneapolis. The community agencies need to be in collaboration with the City of Minneapolis. I’m hopeful because I happen to be a community agency. I’m hopeful because I know my … I legitimately love the City of North Minneapolis. I attend Shiloh Temple International Ministries. I love my church and I watch us put the energy into the community. Sometimes it’s come back because we don’t have the funding to continue. We can start something, to launch something, but if you don’t have continual funding that makes it difficult.

Deseria : 20:10 So the community agencies such as Shiloh Temple, that’s a faith-based organization but there are many other organizations such as Wellspring Second Chance and Antioch Ministries that does the work but we can’t do it all by ourselves. It’s going to take a collaborative effort and funding, monies, time, energy to do that, to bring that to pass. I’m hopeful that if they’re doing this that the City of Minneapolis will listen and hear our cry in the plight of North Minneapolis.

Speaker 3: 20:47 Well thank you for sharing with us today.

Interviewer: 20:48 Thank you for sharing.

Speaker 3: 20:49 I really appreciate it.

Deseria : 20:51 Thank you. All right.

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