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Read About the Rise and Fall of Shinders

Plus fireworks fracas, MPD unaccountability, and the looming carp-ocalypse in today's Flyover news roundup.

Jenni Konrad via Flickr|

The former downtown Minneapolis Shinders space in 2012.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

'Member Shinders?

Writer Jim McLauchlin at geek culture website ICv2 does. "I don’t know that people realize it, but this was the number one collectibles chain ever in the country,” former Shinders worker Steve Brown says in this fascinating history of the "14-store juggernaut" that went bust in spectacular fashion. "Ever. Name another one. I can’t imagine anyone who reached those heights." Founded by immigrant brothers in Minneapolis in 1916, Shinders became a Minnesota empire selling magazines, comic books, sports cards, pogs, and other collectibles. By the '90s, the company was doing $13 million of business per year, McLauchlin writes, though its messy decline would result in bankruptcy in 2007. "It is one of the most amazing, untold stories in Minneapolis/St. Paul history," Brown says. "We had it all. Every store had giant cases with $100,000 worth of product in it, for sale, every time you walked into the place. We had a finely oiled machine." We won't spoil the juicy details of the chain's downfall; you'll just have to read the whole piece.

Fireworks Death Toll Holds Steady at Zero

We're just as shocked as you: Somehow closing a single pedestrian bridge in Minneapolis for multiple nights did not stop young people from setting off fireworks throughout the city. The Strib's Paul Walsh reports that Minneapolis Park Police and other law enforcement agencies responded to "troubling incidents" at six locations late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, with "at least" five arrests and two gunfire injuries. (Elsewhere in the Strib today, Susan Du has a great story about the Somali dads trying to curb fireworks chaos in Dinkytown.)

Look, everyone's already tired of talking about this, and there's very little we can say that hasn't already been said by folks on Twitter. If the city pivots away from hosting appealing festivities on the Fourth of July, doesn't it make sense that teens would take launching fireworks into their own hands? Going one step further: If kids generally have fewer activities and options for fun, especially fun that doesn't require a car, should we really be surprised that this is the unfortunate outcome? And most importantly, does teens being stupid with fireworks—which yes, are dangerous, annoying, and scare our sweet dogs—really constitute a full-blown civic crisis? The most race-baiting, bad-faith actors in political media certainly want you to think so, which should really tell you something. Conspicuously absent from their sites and feeds: The Orono teens who allegedly torched five Lake Minnetonka boats with fireworks earlier this morning.

MPD: We Were Totally Going To Fire the Viral Pepper Spray Cop Before He Resigned

It’s been three years since the unrest following the police murder of George Floyd, and the “where are they now?” pieces have started to emerge. This Star Tribune story from Liz Sawyer looks into what happened to Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. Ron Stenerson, the cop filmed pepper spraying a compliant journalist during the May 2020 riots. The officer didn't have his body cam on, though multiple witnesses managed to capture the incident and share footage to millions via social media. It wasn’t until April 8, 2021, that then-chief Medaria Arradondo moved to fire him for his "unethical and egregious" actions, according to disciplinary records unearthed by the Strib; Stenerson resigned instead two months later, having dragged out the process due his status as a military vet.

That lines up with recent reports from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which both found that police frequently use excessive force against civilians and journalists (the DOJ investigation even has a chapter titled “MPD Retaliates Against Journalists and Unlawfully Restricts Their Access During Protests”). It also supports findings that MPD is slow to reprimand cops for behavior—if at all. In his 29-year-career with the department, Stenerson compiled 13 civilian complaints and had been named in several police brutality lawsuits, including one that cost taxpayers $260,000. Now, in retirement, he takes home an $85,432 annual pension.

Oh, Carp...

Mike Mosedale's latest for Minnesota Reformer lures in readers with a killer headline ("Carp-ocalypse now"), and quickly sets the hook with a dynamite quote from a researcher at the U of M's Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology: “I don’t hate them, I really don’t,” Peter Sorensen says of the "wiggling, bug-eyed" baby fish he's handling. “It’s not their fault they’re here.” He's talking about silver carp, the invasive species that has been rampaging up the Mississippi River toward Minnesota since the '70s. Compared to the foreign carp, Sorensen doesn't have a ton of respect for our native fishes (they're "pretty stupid," he observes), but he sure as shit doesn't want the 20- to 60-pound silver carp fighting 'em for aquatic real estate. “The females can produce a million eggs," he says. "They are moving upstream. If they reproduce, it will destroy half the fish in the river.”

Thankfully, Sorensen has studied a bio-acoustic fence known as BAFF that could deter 99% of silver carp with blinking lights and waves of sound. He thinks, at the very least, it'll buy us valuble time. Unfortunately, nobody at the Minnesota State Capitol will take his request for a $17 million BAFF to be installed at Lock #5 in Winona seriously. (You'll recall the state recently found itself flush with a record $17.5 billion surplus.) “I think I’ve tried to get it funded five or six times now. I’ve lost count,” reports the beleaguered waterway warrior. Department of Natural Resources leadership hasn't championed the BAFF plan either, inaction that Sorensen describes as “dereliction” and “ineptitude.” You'll forgive the the fish researcher, who at 68 is eyeballing retirement, for sounding a bit defeated. "If you are in a boat and it’s sinking because there is a hole and you don’t have a perfect plug but you have an old T-shirt, you stuff that old T-shirt in the hole," he says. "You fix the hole...  I don’t know why that isn’t intuitive.”

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