Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Minneapolis Cab Driver Action Update

The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote today that
about dozens of Somali cabdrivers drove in a caravan to the State Capitol to honor Salah and Ahmed Ahmed, a driver shot to death last month, and to meet with state and city officials.

Salah, 28, was shot in the head about 1:30 a.m. Aug. 8 at the intersection of 24th St. and 18th Av. S. in the Phillips neighborhood. He had called his pregnant wife to say he had several suspicious passengers.
Their action seems to have generated some promises of action. We'll see:
About 60 drivers -- joint lessors of about 30 taxis -- participated in Monday's caravan from the scene of Salah's death to the scene in north Minneapolis of the July 10 killing of Ahmed and on to St. Paul.

After a meeting with the drivers' leaders in the office of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, officials of the state and the city of Minneapolis vowed to seek ways to finance upgraded protection in taxis.

State Public Safety Commissioner Rich Stanek said that could involve equipping cabs with global positioning systems, video cameras or bullet-resistant shields between the front and back seats.

"I will look for federal and state funds to leverage for that," he told cheering cabbies wearing white T-shirts saying "Stop Killing Cabdrivers/We Serve But Not Protected." Pawlenty was in Indianapolis at the National Governors Association annual meeting.
But it also generated a slightly different response:
While most speakers at a rally at the scene of Salah's slaying focused on calls for government assistance, Minneapolis firearms dealer Mark Koscielski passed out leaflets offering a $40 discount for his state-certified handgun course, a prerequisite for a permit to carry guns in public.

"The Police Can't Protect You!" the leaflets said. "DON'T BE A VICTIM! ARM YOURSELVES, PROTECT YOURSELVES!" Many of the drivers picked up a copy.