Steve Fletcher, 3rd Ward Council Member – Responding to Violence in Our Community — The Heart of Minneapolis — October 27, 2020
This year, like a lot of cities around the country, Minneapolis has experienced a significant increase in violent crime, including an alarming increase in gun violence. The brunt of this violence has not occurred in Ward 3. In fact, the 1st and 2nd Precincts combined account for just over 10% of the city’s gun violence. That shouldn’t stop us from responding with a tremendous sense of urgency, both because we care about our city beyond our own neighborhoods, and because we have seen violence spill over into our neighborhoods in some alarming incidents.
Many Minneapolis residents are expressing that they don’t feel as safe as they should, and are rightfully calling on the city to respond with urgency and focused strategy to curb the violence in our community. We are listening, and we are responding. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve heard from many of you via e-mail, phone, and public testimony. I’ve marched with Mothers Against Community Gun Violence, and heard testimony at last Thursday’s Guns Down, Love Up townhall. There is no simple answer, and there is not consensus about the best strategy, but there are some clear steps we can take.
The City Council is focused on evidence-based solutions rooted in a public health approach to public safety, not only for the long term, but also because this approach offers the best way to get additional resources where they are needed now. Here’s what the city is doing to respond to community violence.
Modeled after a successful violence intervention model from other cities called CURE Violence, the City Council funded this program, which has now been up and running for a few weeks. The Mayor, Chief Arradondo, and the Council have all expressed support for the program, which aims to divert people from violence before it occurs, through relational work in community with those most at-risk to commit or be victims of gang and group-related violence.
Office of Violence Prevention
The Office of Violence Prevention continues to drive evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies to violence, including the innovative Next Step program, coordinated investments in community-based partnerships, and more. You can view Director Sasha Cotton’s presentation to the Public Health and Safety Committee here.
Targeted Northside Resources
In the Public Health and Safety Committee on Thursday, we received an important presentation from Professor David Kennedy, from John Jay College – a nationally recognized expert on the study of violence who has provided guidance to cities, including to Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo. His analysis on the causes and cures for the community violence we’re experiencing is worth watching so you can think about it for yourself. It leads to a recommendation that we focus an abundance of community resources – emotional support, economic opportunities, housing options, and anything else we can generate – to divert people from a path of violence, coupled with focused law enforcement interventions for people who reject that help. Council Member Cunningham offered a staff direction to assign staff to coordinate an effort based on those principles, which passed the Public Health and Safety Committee and will be taken up by the full Council this week.
Focusing policing on the most urgent dangers
This moment in public safety is undeniably challenging. The clear message from a Northside listening session last week was that we need to move forward in stopping police violence, and simultaneously address community violence. The way to do that is to focus police resources on urgent threats to public safety, and we are doing that. MPD, the Hennepin County Sheriff, and MN State Troopers have led a coordinated effort to combat street racing downtown that has been effective, focused, and strategic. The evidence-based response to gun violence in our city leads with prevention, rather than law enforcement, but it doesn’t work without focused, strategic policing where alternative approaches are rejected and violence persists. We’ll continue to re-align resources to focus policing on strategic interventions that will have the greatest impact on the safety of all Minneapolis residents.
Minneapolis DataSource Provides Enhanced Access to Public Information
This week, the City of Minneapolis IT Department introduced a new web-based resource called Minneapolis DataSource that provides public, real-time access to a wealth of information. As we move forward in an engagement process around public safety, I believe it’s critical that everyone have access to the same set of facts, so that we can all make informed decisions together. Minneapolis DataSour
Facial Recognition and Surveillance Technology
Last week, I participated in a panel with local and national experts from the ACLU, CAIR, and Stanford University on the topic of facial recognition technology and surveillance technology generally. It was a great discussion that identified significant concerns community advocates have raised that have prompted me to introduce an ordinance banning the use of facial recognition by the city. Thanks to everyone who participated! If you missed it, and want to learn more about this issue, you can watch the video online.
My community office hours are now at 5:00 p.m. on Thursdays on Microsoft Teams or by phone. Drop in to ask questions, discuss any issues you see in the community, or just have a chat with your neighbors.
Thursday, October 29, at 5:00 P.M.
Thursday, November 5, at 5:00 P.M.
Thursday, November 12, at 5:00 P.M.
Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#
Anyone can join a Microsoft Teams web meeting. A free software download may be required, depending on how you join the meeting (computer, Android or Apple device).
If you have questions or a topic to discuss, please email Mikayla.Smith@minneapolismn.
New Ballot Drop-Off Sites Now Open
100,000 Ballots Already Cast by Minneapolis Voters
Election Day is Tuesday, November 3. Early voting began on September 18, and more than 100,000 voters have already cast ballots!
ALL Minnesota voters are encouraged to vote by mail this year, but you can still vote in person, either early or on Election Day. Voting early can help people avoid lines and crowds at polling places on the day of the election.
Early Vote Locations
- Minneapolis Early Vote Center, 980 E. Hennepin Ave.
- Hennepin County Government Center, 300 6th St. S.
- Urban League Twin Cities, 2100 Plymouth Ave. N.
- Longfellow Park Recreation Center, 3435 36th Ave. S.
The hours for these locations are as follows:
- Tuesday, October 27 through Friday, October 30: 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Saturday, October 31: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Sunday, November 1: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Monday, November 2: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Tuesday, November 3: CLOSED – vote at your polling place
Vote By Mail
Return your mail ballot in person
Locations open now through Election Day:
- Minneapolis Early Vote Center, 980 E. Hennepin Ave. — parking lot
- Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S. — tent at 2nd Ave. & 12th St.
- Hennepin County Government Center, 300 6th St. S. — inside the skyway level OR outside (drive-up) at 625 S. Fourth Ave.
- Firefighters Hall & Museum Parking Lot, 664 22nd Ave. NE.
- Victory Memorial Ice Arena Parking Lot, 1900 42nd Ave. N.
- UROC Parking Lot, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N.
- Kmart Parking Lot, 10 W. Lake St.
- St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church Parking Lot, 3450 Irving Ave. S.
- Longfellow Park Recreation Center, 3435 36th Ave. S.
- Bethel Lutheran Church Parking Lot, 4120 S. 17th Ave.
- Mount Olivet Lutheran Church Parking Lot, 5025 Knox Ave. S.
- Bossen Field Park Parking Lot, 5701 S. 28th Ave.
Hours are available on the Elections & Voter Services website here. Important items to remember when returning your ballot:
- Ballots cannot be dropped off at polling places on Election Day.
- All ballots dropped off in person must be received by 3 p.m. on Election Day.
- If you are returning a ballot for someone other than yourself, please be prepared to show identification (with name and signature) and complete brief paperwork.
Return your ballot by USPS (postal service)
Use the postage-paid envelope to return your ballot. We recommend mailing your completed ballot back at least 7 days before Election Day to ensure your vote counts. Your ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day (November 3) and received in the mail within 7 days (by November 10).
Return your ballot by package delivery service (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
You may also return your ballot using a service of your choice. You will be responsible for any additional charge. Please note: If you return your ballot using a package delivery service, your ballot must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day (November 3).
For more information, go to https://vote.minneapolismn.gov
More Spaces Becoming Available This Winter for People Experiencing Homelessness
A broad coalition of government agencies, nonprofit and philanthropic partners are currently operating the largest and safest emergency shelter system that has ever existed in Hennepin County as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These collective efforts have thus far allowed us to avoid the devastating impacts COVID-19 has had on people experiencing homelessness in other cities.
There is existing emergency shelter capacity, especially for women, children and families. Emergency shelters continue to see beds becoming newly available each day, and some go unused each night. There are also around 200 current vacancies in board and lodge facilities, which provide low-barrier housing that people can access today.
Partners are also working to open new spaces that meet the individual needs of people sleeping outside before the end of the year, and to make permanent improvements to ensure COVID-19 safety guidelines continue to be met at existing and new shelter spaces, as they have since the beginning of the pandemic.
By the end of 2020, partners, including city, county, state and philanthropy, plan to invest $55 million to open at least seven sites to provide emergency shelter, low-barrier housing and protective housing for people experiencing homelessness, as well as enhance existing shelters and expand support services and street outreach. An additional 670 units of very affordable housing designated for people experiencing homelessness will have opened or begun construction by the end of this year.
Partners recognize that emergency shelter may not meet everyone’s individual needs. We are committed to working directly with individuals to find the best solutions available. One person sleeping outside is too many. We are committed to making full use of the options available right now, even as we bring more online.
So far in 2020, 1,300 people experiencing homelessness have found permanent housing with help from city, county, state and nonprofit partners.
Get connected to shelter. Read more.
What’s Your Vision for the Future of University & Central Avenues?
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is developing a future vision for Hwy. 47 (University Ave.) and Hwy. 65 (Central Ave.)
Thousands of Minnesotans travel along University and Central avenues every day — driving cars, walking or rolling, biking, and riding public transit. MnDOT wants to learn from your experience using these streets to understand what is needed to improve them for everyone.
This website will be active through November 25, 2020 as part of MnDOT’s first phase of public outreach for this study. Please explore this site, join us for a virtual open house, provide your feedback, and share this webpage with anyone else who might be interested.
See the graphic to the left for the study area for University and Central Avenues, including Blaine, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Hilltop, Spring Lake Park and Northeast Minneapolis.
Comment Period Extended for Minneapolis 2040 Draft Built Form Regulations
The City is extending the comment period for the draft built form regulations to Nov. 9. The public comment period closes with a public hearing before the Minneapolis Planning Commission, which will vote on forwarding a recommendation to the City Council.
The built form regulations will regulate the scale of new buildings and additions throughout Minneapolis. The regulations are critical to achieving the goals of Minneapolis 2040, the City’s Comprehensive Plan, which was approved by the City Council in 2018. The plan will shape how the city will grow and change over the next two decades so all residents can benefit. Under consideration now are technical aspects of Minneapolis 2040 implementation.
Minneapolis 2040 includes 14 Built Form Districts that will guide the development of new regulations, which will govern issues such as: building height, floor area ratio (FAR), lot sizes and setbacks from property lines, among other things. The new built form regulations will resolve some of the major conflicts between Minneapolis 2040 and the City’s current zoning regulations. They are also intended to provide more predictability for the scale of new buildings and additions in different areas in the city, including neighborhoods, downtown, production/employment areas and areas served by high-frequency transit.
Minneapolis 2040 went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, following over two years of community engagement. The plan guides growth and change with 14 key goals, including eliminating racial disparities, promoting climate change resiliency, and increasing access to jobs and housing.
State Executive Order Suspending Evictions Extended Until November 12
Rental Assistance Available Through Hennepin County
The governor’s latest extension of the peacetime emergency means that the suspension of evictions and landlord-initiated lease terminations remains in place until Nov. 12.
This suspension will allow households to remain sheltered during the peacetime emergency. The executive order does not relieve a tenant’s obligation to pay rent.
While the eviction moratorium continues, housing providers can evict a tenant when the tenant violates a lease by endangering the safety of others, engaging in certain illegal activities, or significantly damaging property. Evictions can also proceed if the homeowner or their family member needs to move into the premises or if a writ of recovery was issued before 5 p.m. March 24.
Emergency rental assistance
Hennepin County offers emergency rental assistance for residents with low incomes who have been financially harmed by COVID-19. Residents can learn more and apply at www.hennepin.us/rent-help and find more information in different languages.