Ward 11 Neighbors,
After several days of relative calm, I hope that you have been able to find time to rest and reflect on all that has happened in our city.
I am filled with gratitude for the countless neighbors who have contacted me to share their belief that we are in dire need of a new approach to public safety in Minneapolis. While our community does not have a unified voice on precisely what this should look like, we overwhelmingly share a belief something better is possible and necessary.
On Sunday, I joined many of my colleagues to stand with community members and commit to a robust process to determine what’s next for public safety in Minneapolis. This was not an official City Council meeting, and despite what’s being reported in national media, we did not vote on anything. Instead, we took this pledge to make clear our intentions to dig into this work and better serve our community:
Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed and will never be accountable for its actions.
We are here today to begin the process of ending the Minneapolis Police Department and creating a new transformative model for cultivating safety in our city.
We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does.
We’re committing to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for everyone.
We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy and budget decisions over the coming weeks and months.
You can expect to be part of a comprehensive, thoughtful, and inclusive process going forward. Change will be rooted in deep engagement with community members. Keeping Minneapolis residents safe is and will continue to be one of the City’s most important jobs, both while we undertake this process and beyond.
In recent weeks, I have received thousands of voicemails and emails (and counting) and at the same time our City website has faced cyber attack. For now, emailing email@example.com is still the best way to reach me. I appreciate your patience and understanding if you are waiting to hear back.
What’s Next for Public Safety
As I have said already, I am committed to disinvesting in the MPD as it exists today and rebuilding a public safety system designed to serve the public with compassion and respect. George Floyd’s murder represents the latest in a too-long list of reasons to build something different and better. Over the next year, I look forward to working in partnership with community members to imagine and implement transformational changes.
I believe there is a place for focused and accountable law enforcement in this city. We know the MPD is not meeting that standard. I also believe there is a place for community outreach strategies by mental health professionals and others trained to respond without force. The transformation of our public safety system will take time. This process is only beginning. I hope the many, many Ward 11 neighbors who have contacted me in recent weeks stay engaged over the long haul – and I invite the rest of you to join in.
All of our neighbors must be cared for and safe – now, as we work through the next year, and after we determine the best long-term path. In the near term, I am supportive of:
- Shifting public safety funding from MPD to violence prevention and community-based programs
- Creating shared oversight of the MPD between the City Council, which does not currently have operational oversight of the department, and the Mayor; I have advocated for this throughout my time in office
- Completing the study I proposed as part of last year’s budget process to determine roles/job duties that can be transferred out of the Minneapolis Police Department to other parts of the City, then following through on making those changes
- Exploring options to contract with other jurisdictions like Hennepin County to provide for public safety
- Fighting state law that prevents Minneapolis from imposing a residency requirement for police officers
- Fighting state laws that limit civilian oversight of law enforcement, especially by prohibiting these civilian agencies imposing discipline on officers
- Pursuing the creation of and significant investment in a new City department to respond to community issues/conflicts and to provide help without force, totally separate from the Minneapolis Police Department
- Exploring ways to end the City’s relationship with the Minneapolis Police Federation
This is not a complete list. I remain openminded as we consider options going forward. What I can say for sure is that incremental change has failed us. It is time for full transformation. We must do better.
State Investigation Requires Immediate Police Reforms
The City is working in partnership with the Department of Human Rights in this process, including by approving on the terms of a stipulation for a temporary restraining order that sets in motion a review of MPD actions. The order, supported unanimously by the City Council on Friday, includes a slate of measures that must be implemented immediately, including:
- MPD must ban neck restraints or choke holds for any reason within 10 days of the effective date of this order.
- Regardless of tenure or rank, any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint, has an affirmative duty to immediately report the incident while still on scene by phone or radio to their commander or their commander’s superiors.
- Regardless of tenure or rank, any member of the MPD who observes another member of the MPD use any unauthorized use of force, including any choke hold or neck restraint, must attempt to safely intervene by verbal and physical means, and if they do not do so they are subject to discipline to the same severity as if they themselves engaged in the prohibited use of force.
- Only the police chief or the chief’s designee at the rank of deputy chief or above may authorize the use of crowd control weapons during protests and demonstrations.
- The police chief must make timely discipline decisions as outlined in the order.
- Civilian body warn camera analysts and investigators with the City’s Office of Police Conduct Review have the authority to proactively audit body worn camera footage and file or amend complaints on behalf of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.
Find additional information on Friday’s order here.
The state’s process is expected to take several months, and every City Council member has agreed to support this work as full partners. The investigation will probe will examine MPD policies, procedures, and practices over the past 10 years to determine whether the department has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices against people of color. It will also ensure any such practices are stopped. Anyone with information that can help with the investigation should contact the Department of Human Rights at 651-539-1100.
Council Moves to Lift Requirement to Hire Off-Duty MPD
In related news, the City Council last week approved a staff direction at our Policy & Governance Oversight Committee meeting that instructs Business Licensing staff to stop requiring the use of off-duty MPD officers at special events. Small business owners and event staff ought to have the freedom to manage their security needs without MPD if that’s what they prefer. Council Member Cam Gordon brought this measure forward quickly in response to concerns raised by community members in recent weeks, and I am glad we are taking swift action to provide more flexibility.
As Businesses Reopen, Practice COVID-19 Precautions
While public safety has taken center stage in recent weeks, it is still critical for us all to pay attention to public health guidance. The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting our community, and it is critical that we continue to do what we can to limit its spread. I urge you to continue to do everything possible to stay safe even as things start to feel more “normal” with business operations expanded later this week.
In Minneapolis, people are required to wear masks indoors at places of public accommodation such as stores, hotels, government buildings, schools, recreational facilities, and service centers. The state still advises folks to stay close to home and limit travel to what is essential. Please avoid large groups. And if you gather in a smaller group, practice physical distancing with masks and wash your hands frequently. Those at greatest risk of serious illness should continue staying home.
Starting on Wednesday, Governor Walz under his Stay Safe MN order will allow the following:
Restaurants and bars to reopen for indoor service if they
- Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
- Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between tables
- Limit indoor occupant capacity to no more than 50% up to 250 persons
- Do not exceed 250 persons in outdoor spaces
- Limit table service to 4 persons, or 6 if part of one family unit
- Require reservations
- Require workers to wear masks at all times and strongly encourage customers to wear masks when not eating or drinking
Gyms, studios and fitness centers to reopen if they
- Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
- Ensure social distancing (6 ft between persons) and limit occupant capacity to no more than 25%; not to exceed 250 persons for indoor and outdoor settings each
- Strongly encourage that masks be worn by workers and users
- Establish regular disinfection routine and train staff
- Ensure ≥6 ft of distancing between equipment; greater distancing should be implemented for treadmills and other aerobic activity that encourages high exertion
- Group exercise classes should only be offered if distancing requirements can be maintained and with no person-to-person physical contact
Seated and recreational entertainment and meeting venues to reopen if they
- Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
- Limit occupant capacity to no more than 25% not to exceed 250 persons
- Ensure social distancing and a minimum of 6 feet between persons
- Strongly encourage masks for workers and customers
Personal care services (such as hair salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors) to reopen to provide services indoors if they
- Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
- Limit number of clients inside the business at any time to ensure 6 feet of distance between persons except when providing services
- Limit occupant capacity to no more than 50% not to exceed 250 persons
- See clients by appointment only; do not allow walk-ins
- Require workers and clients to wear masks at all times. For services where the client cannot wear a mask, the worker should
- add a face shield in addition to their mask.
All workers who have previously been working from home must continue doing so. Minnesota’s Stay Safe Plan includes details about what is open and what restrictions exist. If you have questions about returning to work, businesses reopenings, or other topics related to COVID-19, use this form to contact the state.
Attended a Protest or Community Clean-up? Get Tested
If you’ve participated in protests, vigils, or clean-ups in recent weeks, please get tested for COVID-19. As we know, this virus can spread easily and quickly in large groups of people who are close together for long periods of time. Even people who do not have symptoms can still spread the virus to others.
Starting this week, the Minnesota Department of Health is offering free tests in the most affected communities. You do not need to have insurance or symptoms to get tested, but please schedule your appointment in advance. If you do not live in these areas, you should prioritize getting tested at your local clinic if that’s an option for you. Get more information on various testing locations and make an appointment here.
Rent Assistance Available for Those Affected by COVID-19
Hennepin County is offering residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 emergency assistance to help cover rent and other housing costs. You may qualify if you are a Hennepin County resident who had household income below 50% of the area median income before COVID-19 (that translates to $46,550 for a family of three), if you lost income due to COVID-19, and if you can’t afford your housing costs this month. Find the full list of eligibility criteria and application materials here. Households with enough income to pay housing costs are not eligible. There is no deadline to apply.
Get Updates on City’s COVID-19 Response
Find details on our local COVID-19 response and various resources on the City’s COVID-19 website. In addition, City staff regularly update this online dashboard that uses state data to show the number of confirmed cases in our city, how many people needed hospitalization, how many have recovered, and how many have died. You can find statewide data here.
Donate Homemade Face Masks on Mask Drive Mondays
Folks can deliver homemade masks to their local Minneapolis Fire station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Monday as part of Mask Drive Mondays, a new initiative to help satisfy the need for face coverings in our community. Public health officials remain in agreement that cloth face coverings help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has instructions for making cloth face masks here.
Generous donors contributed 2,400 masks plus 100 more child-sized masks during a Memorial Day mask drive, prompting us to keep this going. The City plans to distribute donated masks to Minneapolis residents, organizations, and businesses that are most in need. These include food shelves, congregate living facilities, corner stores, and shelters. Please remember to stay six feet away from others when dropping off your donation. Fire stations are not equipped to take any other donations at this time.
Food Shelves Seeking Monetary Contributions
I’m grateful to have heard from many community members who are eager to help neighbors however they can during this challenging time. Many local service providers have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown thus far, especially with regard to food donations. Please be sure to check with organizations before dropping off donations to see what they need.
One of the best ways to reach hungry people is through food shelves – and a great way to help food shelves right now is with monetary donations. The dollars go much further through their own purchases and help food shelf operators better manage items to prevent spoiling. Financial contributions also allow food shelves to purchase specific items needed by the community.
Please note that Minneapolis Public Schools has been overwhelmed by the community’s generosity and is not able to accept food donations or supplies at its food distribution sites or schools at this time. For information on how to support food shelves and meal sites, please visit the Health Department’s food donations page or check out this resources to see specific needs shared by food shelves.
Urgent Need for Blood and Plasma Donations
The Red Cross has once again identified an urgent need for blood donations. You can still safely donate blood during the COVID-19 pandemic and eligible donors can do so every eight weeks. You can find donation locations and make an appointment through the Red Cross here or Memorial Blood Centers here.
Also, people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus. Use of this plasma is being evaluated as treatment for patients with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. In coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Red Cross is seeking folks who are fully recovered from COVID-19 to sign up to donate plasma to help current patients. Get more information on COVID-19 plasma donation here.
Have You Applied for Your Mail-in Ballot?
With health officials advising us all to do what we can to reduce contact with others during the COVID-19 pandemic, I strongly encourage you to vote early by mail this election year. All Minnesota voters can sign up now to get ballots by mail for the August primary and November general election. Ballots will arrive about six weeks before each election, along with postage-paid envelopes to return them. Every Minnesota voter is eligible to vote early by mail – you do not need to give a reason.
Apply for your ballot at least 10 days before an election so you have enough time to receive and return it – it’s quick and easy, and it’s a great idea to take care of it now to be on the safe side. Although voting by mail is strongly recommended, voters will still be able to cast their ballots in person at the City’s Early Vote Center or at their polling places on Election Day. The CDC is encouraging voting early by mail, and the City’s Elections & Voter Services division supports this recommendation to make sure every voter in Minneapolis can safely cast their ballot this election year. Get more information here.
CenterPoint Can Help You Manage Gas Bills
CenterPoint Energy is offering payment plans and other assistance for residents and small businesses that may be struggling financially amid COVID-19. Since March, CenterPoint Energy has suspended natural gas disconnections for nonpayment and has temporarily waived late payment fees and interest on past due balances.
Paying your natural gas bills to the extent possible can avoid accumulating large unpaid balances, and CenterPoint staff are available to help you arrange a payment plan based on your specific circumstances. Call CenterPoint Energy Customer Service at 612-372-4727 or 800-245-2377 to get help. CenterPoint also has a dedicated webpage with information about various types of federal and county assistance available for customers who need help paying their natural gas bill.
In addition, the Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) recently received additional funding that allows even more Minnesota households to get help covering utility bills. To find your local EAP service provider, call 800-657-3710 and follow the prompts to enter your ZIP code, or reference this list of service providers.
Localized Flooding Expected Near Minnehaha Creek
The National Weather Service is forecasting up to two inches of rain across the Minnehaha Creek watershed starting Tuesday evening, driven mainly by the remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobal. The Minnehaha Creed Watershed District reports that water levels are already high in some areas across the watershed, and folks should be prepared for the potential of localized flooding. The creek is currently flowing around 290 cubic feet per second, making it unsafe for paddling, and this week’s rain could push the flow past 500 cubic feet per second. Ideal flow for padding is between 75 and 150 cubic feet per second. Flows above that threshold can make it tougher to react to branches, downed trees, and other obstacles in the creek. City crews are working to remove debris from the creek as they are able. Get more information on creek conditions here.
I am grateful for the 200-plus Ward 11 neighbors who attended my most recent Community Conversation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. I recognize the need for additional discussions and understand the interest in this topic far outmatches my typical community events. Because we are not able to meet in person, my office is working on scheduling more virtual meetings in the near future that have the technical capability to accommodate a large group in a way that feels constructive for all involved. I will share more details on plans for Community Conversations as we work out the kinks — please stay tuned!
In addition, if you’re feeling motivated to get more involved in your community during this time, check out your local neighborhood organization for opportunities to get engaged: