Incumbent Mayor Betsy Hodges told students that “the purpose of government is to provide basic services” like affordable housing.
“Government today serves the interests of the ruling capitalist class, from the federal level down to the Twin Cities here,” Rosenfeld countered. “Unless you recognize this class reality, you can’t address why working people have inadequate housing. If we leave this to the bosses’ government and the real estate interests, the capitalist market and its dog-eat-dog values, we will continue to face the problems we live under today.
“The only way to make progress towards affordable, clean and comfortable housing,” Rosenfeld said, “is organizing the working class to fight in our own interest.
“The SWP says we need to fight for a massive public works program to provide jobs to millions at union-scale wages, to build things workers need, from schools, hospitals, day care centers, and thousands and thousands of housing units,” he said.
In discussing immigration and other social issues, several candidates of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, the name the Democrats go by in Minnesota, blamed President Donald Trump for the crises workers face.
“The problem didn’t start with Trump,” Rosenfeld replied. “Obama was the deporter-in-chief. You can’t solve the problem by electing Democrats. They all worked hand in hand creating the system we have today, where the government considers a whole layer of the working class — 11 million of us — to be illegal, without the same rights, the same jobs as others. They’re super-exploited and scapegoated.
“We need to unite the working class,” he said. “My party calls for amnesty for all those here who have no papers, and no more deportations!”
Candidate Al Flowers, a long-time opponent of police brutality, took issue with Rosenfeld’s criticism of the Democrats. “We are going to change the Democratic Party. It’s a good party,” Flowers said. “I don’t want young people to say ‘no,’ the way that David talks. We can make change from something that is decent.”
The forum reflected a debate in ruling-class circles here over what steps to take in response to public protests against recent police killings in the Minneapolis area. Nekima Levy-Pounds, a past president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said that she has been very active over the past decade around police accountability. “Things would change under my leadership,” she said. “I would work with Chief Rondo, who I have a good relationship with, and would implement community policing models based on national best practices.”
Medaria Arradondo, known by some as “Rondo,” was recently appointed Minneapolis police chief, the first who is African-American.
Rosenfeld said working people need their own course. “The simple fact is you cannot ‘reform’ the police. They exist to defend the rulers’ property and wealth, and to keep working people in their place,” he said. “We need to trust ourselves, trust the exploited and oppressed. We have to continue to organize and fight to put cops in jail who kill and abuse us. No change will come through a policy in the mayor’s office, only through a growing movement of working people.
“The fact is there is less racism and less hatred of immigrants than at any time in the history of the country, the product of our experiences and struggles, like the mighty social movement that overthrew Jim Crow segregation,” he added. “We can build on that.”
Several students came up to speak with Rosenfeld after the forum, to continue the discussion and learn more about the Socialist Workers Party.
Vote Socialist Workers Party: Our party is your party!
Communist League campaign: ‘Workers need to take power’
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