In Minneapolis, the bells almost didn’t toll for Dr. King

Some decisions are easy. And then there’s government.

On Wednesday evening, bells across the nation were to toll in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on the 50th anniversary of his assassination.

Decisions don’t come easier than this one. If you’ve got bells, let freedom ring. Literally.

So it was surprising when the commission in charge of the bells atop Minneapolis City Hall put the kibosh on plans to ring the bells 39 times. King was 39 when he was gunned down.

The Star Tribune reports Municipal Building Commission Director Erin Delaney, who manages the building, consulted with Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison, who chairs the Municipal Building Commission, and it was decided Minneapolis wouldn’t participate because the policy for the chimes is they’re only used for concerts.

“I got the request, and it was not something that we do,” Delaney tells the paper. “We don’t toll the bells. We have a scheduled concert series. … I think it’s important that it be noted that we don’t do these things arbitrarily.”

That decision probably would’ve stood up had the Star Tribune not published a story on its website that caught the attention of three other commission members.

Not long after that, the Commission reversed its policy and last evening, Minneapolis didn’t stand out in the nation as one of the few big cities that had bells and didn’t think they should be tolled for Dr. King.

Tower Bell Foundation Chair Tony Hill said perhaps the commission didn’t have enough time to properly ponder the request to ring the bells.

The request was submitted two weeks ago, the Star Tribune says.

Volunteer bell ringer and former Star Tribune reporter Dan Wascoe noted the bells have been run for the passings of Michael Jackson and Kirby Puckett.

“The bells have many functions, including to remind our residents of noteworthy events, making us more of a community,” he said.

If they can play for Prince, they can play for Dr. King.