Captain Jack Sparrow held up a poster for a proposal for community ownership of an NFL football team.

JEFF WHEELER • Star Tribune,

Captain Jack Sparrow: I am a serious political participant

  • Article by: Captain Jack Sparrow
  • July 11, 2014 - 6:23 PM


The Star Tribune Editorial Board (“Raise filing bar for political hobbyists,” July 10) says: “The 2013 Minneapolis mayoral herd of 35 candidates wouldn’t have been the same without Captain Jack Sparrow, aka The Occupirate.”

So how would the “herd” have been different — and specifically, better, which is what is implied?

The Editorial Board stated, “Sparrow objected [to raising the filing fees]. He said his ‘name’ would not have been on the 2013 ballot if the fee had been $500.” Actually, I said, “A fee that high would create a government of, by and for people with money” (not one “composed of people with money” as I was paraphrased).

The board disagreed, saying, “Higher fees would put candidates on the ballot who have sufficient backing to raise those sums from supporters …”

Backing from whom? Without being allowed in the debates, with my platform ignored by the main newspaper in town, and without money to get the word out (even to potential, non-mainstream financial backers) I would have little chance of winning. Is that what the Editorial Board meant when it said I was not “serious?”

If you look at my platforms, you will see that I am serious.

Besides my current activities, I have a history of working with poor people. I was the founder of People United for Economic Justice in 1987 which later became Up and Out of Poverty, MN. Beginning in 1987, we occupied vacant Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) homes which, according to the Star Tribune, combined with other national actions, resulted in HUD turning over 10 percent of its vacants for use by homeless people.

In 1992, we occupied the Minneapolis Armory, twice, to prevent the property it was on being turned into a new Hennepin County jail. The newspaper twice put those events on the front page, once with a large picture. The armory still stands.

We also persuaded the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul to turn over the unused Kate Dunwoody building to a nonprofit to become the Exodus Residence to house homeless people.

I have organized public housing tenants in Minneapolis in the ’90s, after the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority attempted to organize its own “union” to replace the union that was tenant-­organized.

Recently I have worked with the Occupy movement. I spoke about this at an event at Powderhorn Park on July 4, an event reported on by the Star Tribune (“Powderhorn, without the pop,” July 5). I later expressed some concerns I had with this article in a post on the online political forum for Minneapolis on Although the reporter has responded to other people’s concerns on that forum, he has not responded to my concerns about the photo caption. The caption said: “A man dressed as Capt. Jack Sparrow addressed some of those who attended Powderhorn Park’s July 4th celebration.”

This implies that I didn’t speak at the event and someone other than myself, but who was presumably dressed as a pirate, spoke instead.

In that post I stated, “I also wonder why my name came up at all. Was it to emphasize that the event was populated by offbeat characters and non-serious candidates ‘like flies on roadkill,’ a phrase [the story] used to describe the candidates?”

I was quoted on the front page of the Star Tribune on July 9 (“In Mpls., LRT deal gets a cool reception”). It read: “One man called the project a ‘billion-dollar boondoggle.’ ” Out of the 90 people who spoke, three were quoted. The reporter listed two by name, but identified me as “one man,” although I was introduced by name and I reintroduced myself before I began and stated that I was a candidate for Hennepin County commissioner.

Was this failure to mention my name an oversight, or was it intentional because it contradicted the paper’s well-established narrative, that I am not “serious” and therefore I would have nothing serious to say?

For more about my platform, the following posts are available at 1) “How to get the riff raff out of electoral politics,” 2) “Let’s forget about the horse race …” 3) “A pirate needs more than one plank …” and 4) “You say you want a revolution …”


Captain Jack Sparrow was a Minneapolis mayoral candidate in 2013 and is running this year for the Hennepin County Board.

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