Steve Fletcher, 3rd Ward Council Member – July 17
Ward 3 Friends –
Many years ago, I worked for a policy think tank called “Minnesota 2020.” I can tell you that when we imagined the future our name represented, we were picturing something very different than what Minnesota 2020 is turning out to be. None of us chose this moment, but the terrible murder of George Floyd by officers wearing our city’s uniform makes it imperative that we rise to this moment, and make it right. The entire world is watching to see what we do next, and calling for justice. Everything I’ve heard from all of you tells me that we will all do our part to answer that call.
In the first few nights after George Floyd’s death, the impact and trauma of his death were compounded by a lot of chaos and confusion. I spent several sleepless nights e-mailing and calling with constituents at all hours who couldn’t get through to 911, on nights when MPD was not operating beyond defending their own precincts, and our residents and businesses were left to fend for themselves. I want to thank everyone who stepped up in large ways and small to look out for your neighbors, to report genuinely scary activity, and to raise your voices to express our community’s grief and anger. Some cherished neighborhood businesses will need a lot of support reopening. There’s work ahead.
I’ve heard from literally thousands of Minneapolis residents (and tens of thousands of people outside Minneapolis, but that’s a different story), and received statements from neighborhood organizations and businesses, suggesting a way forward. The overwhelming sentiment is that policing as we’ve known it is not working, is producing outcomes we cannot morally sustain, and must change.
At the Beltrami Neighborhood Council meeting, after a conversation that echoed the sentiments from constituent calls and conversations I’d been having with everyone I could respond to from my rapidly filling inbox, residents asked me to share my opinions in a more public forum so that the people who weren’t in the meeting would know that I was with them. I committed that I would do that, and went home and wrote a Twitter thread and Facebook post that reflected the sentiment I was hearing from the people contacting me, and that I was feeling. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter probably saw it. I wasn’t the first in the community or even on the Council to suggest that we should consider disbanding the Police Department, but the post resonated, and prompted a lot of conversation.
Trying to figure out how to reach everybody can be challenging in a pandemic, when we can’t knock on doors or have face to face meetings in the same way, so I rely on online media, this e-mail list, neighborhood zoom meetings, and the press to communicate ideas to everyone around the Ward. Usually, when I say press, I mean the Mill City Times, the Northeaster, or the MN Daily, which all provide great, hyperlocal coverage and help a lot of people connect to our city government. This week, it’s Time Magazine.
With such an overwhelming flurry of activity on so many fronts, I know there are a lot of questions, and a lot of rumors circulating. There are two major things that people need to know right now.
First, everyone should know that structural changes in our public safety organization and infrastructure will take time, and will involve an enormous amount of community input and outreach to achieve. To state it plainly: we are not going to haphazardly cut public safety capacity without a plan for how we’re going to continue to meet our city’s safety needs. Nobody is proposing that, least of all me. I think the changes our city is considering are significant enough that at least a component of them should be on the ballot for everyone to actually vote on. It’s totally understandable that fear is one of the emotions people are feeling about changes to public safety. We’re going to work through that together, slowly and deliberately, and with a lot of care.
The second thing you need to know is that change is not optional. Today, the State Department of Human Rights brought forward a temporary restraining order that made the first of many, many changes and reforms that they will likely require of us as part of a broader enforcement action to correct a decades-long pattern of civil rights violations. We are collaborating with DHR, and voted to approve a stipulated agreement today, but make no mistake – this is not an optional process. The people of Minneapolis will have more voice and access to the process if the Council initiates action, rather than waiting for the state to do it to us, so that we can do it in open, public processes.
The third thing you need to know, as a Ward 3 resident or business owner, is that your voice matters in this. No compelling vision of public safety works without participation from the public. We’re going to have lots of opportunities to discuss, to share, to talk through our hopes and our fears, to commit ourselves and each other to the work of social justice and true community safety.
One such opportunity is tomorrow at 1:00 PM. It’s short notice, so if you can’t make it, have no fear. There is time, and there will be more. I know some people are feeling some urgency about this, so I wanted to have one this weekend. We’ll announce more soon.
We didn’t pick this moment, but our community can rise to it. Let’s imagine something better than what we’ve had. Let’s imagine something that makes us feel safer than we’ve felt, that we can all collaborate on. Let’s find the courage to support each other and be the city everyone is calling on us to be. Let’s rebuild better than we were before.
Keep in touch. I’m here for your hopes, your ideas, your fears, your critiques – for all of it.
City Council Signs Off on Stipulation for Court Order Outlining Immediate Changes for Minneapolis Police Department, Framework for Long-Term State Investigation
On Friday, June 5, the Minneapolis City Council approved the terms of a stipulation for a temporary restraining order outlining immediate changes that must be implemented by the Minneapolis Police Department and a framework for systemic change as part of the long-term investigation underway by Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department June 2 after filing a civil rights charge related to the death of George Floyd. The investigation into policies, procedures and practices over the past 10 years will determine if the MPD has engaged in systematic discriminatory practices toward people of color and ensure any such practices are stopped.
The order specifies that MPD and the City must implement the following measures immediately:
- 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.
The order also commits the City to working with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on several fronts to build toward systemic change within MPD as part of the long-term investigation.
The City will prepare a report listing all of the State of Minnesota laws that impede public transparency of police data and/or prevent the mayor and police chief and/or impede civilian oversight from disciplining and terminating police officers who do not adhere to Minneapolis Police Department policies and standards. The report is due by July 30, 2020.
Minnesotans with information that can further the investigation into the MPD should contact the Department of Human Rights at mn.gov/mdhr or 651-539-1100.
Minneapolis City Council Statement on Department of Human Rights Action
“George Floyd should be alive today.
Mr. Floyd’s death is just one instance of unthinkable violence against Black men by law enforcement generally and the Minneapolis Police Department specifically. Our community, especially communities of color, has a deep mistrust of law enforcement given the actions of Minneapolis police officers over decades.
We welcome and fully support the Minnesota Department of Human Rights’ robust investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department. We urge the state to use its full weight to hold the Minneapolis Police Department accountable for any and all abuses of power and harms to our community and stand ready to aid in this process as full partners. The City Council’s oversight of the Minneapolis Police Department has been historically constrained by the City Charter and state law and we welcome new tools to pursue transformational, structural changes to how the City provides for public safety. We look forward to doing this critical work with our partners at the state, continuing to support the leadership of city staff including Civil Rights Director Velma Korbel and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, and ensuring that community voices are fully centered in the process announced today.”
Minneapolis Council Members Kevin Reich, Cameron Gordon, Steve Fletcher, Phillipe Cunningham, Jeremiah Ellison, Lisa Goodman, Andrea Jenkins, Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender, Jeremy Schroeder, Andrew Johnson, Linea Palmisano
Ward 3 Public Safety Town Hall Meeting
No compelling vision of public safety works without participation from the public. We’re going to have lots of opportunities to discuss, to share, to talk through our hopes and our fears, to commit ourselves and each other to the work of social justice and true community safety.
Please join me tomorrow for a Public Safety town hall meeting:
Tomorrow, Saturday, June 6 at 1:00 P.M.
Or join by phone at 612-276-6670 and enter the Conference ID: 478 532 185#
I normally hold regular open community office hours at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community.
While we are practicing social distancing, I am holding my community office hours remotely on Microsoft Teams:
Wednesday, June 10, at 5:00 P.M.
Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#
Wednesday, June 17, at 5:00 P.M.
Click to join in Microsoft Teams or by phone: 612-276-6670, 933 303 746#
Wednesday, June 24, 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, email Aurin.Chowdhury@minneapolismn.gov to RSVP.
COVID-19 Testing for People Attending Protests, Vigils or Events
The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that any Minnesotan who has attended a protest, vigil or community cleanup get tested for COVID-19. COVID-19 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.
If you start to feel sick, get tested right away.
If you do not feel sick, get tested as soon as you can, but no later than five-seven days after the event. If the test is negative and you are worried you might have been exposed, get another test 12-14 days after the event – even if you don’t feel sick.
Talk to a doctor or a local clinic, or find testing locations near you.
Community Resources: Food, Clothing, Financial, Medication
With the loss of grocery stores and other damage affecting people’s access to food, clothing, financial assistance, groceries, medical care and equipment, and medication, the City is compiling this list of resources to help residents.
Note: Information is changing rapidly. Please confirm the locations are still accepting or handing out donations before heading out.
- All Minneapolis food shelves Food shelves help ensure all Minneapolis residents have steady access to food. A map to help you find a food shelf and other food resources is available on the City’s website. More resources are listed below the map.
- Minneapolis Public Schools free meals for kids Daily free food boxes for pickup. Seven breakfasts and seven lunches including fresh produce for anyone 18 and under. All families are welcome. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday now until further notice.
- Free meals for kids app More resources for free meals for anyone under 18.
- MN Food Helpline Online map of food resources Or call phone hotline at 1-888-711-1151 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
- SNAP-EBT emergency food services expanded eligibility Plus online purchasing and delivery through Amazon and Walmart. Participants with questions can call 651-431-4050 or 800-657-3698 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday starting June 1. People who use SNAP and don’t want to leave their homes to get food can authorize a trusted relative, friend or neighbor to pick up and deliver groceries using their electronic benefits card. They must contact their county or tribal financial worker to make the authorization. Minnesotans can fill out an application for SNAP online at ApplyMN.dhs.mn.gov. For help applying or additional food resources, contact the Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 or visit Hunger Solutions.
- Food and financial assistance The Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporarily made it easier for people to get and use the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which offers monthly food benefits. Information about SNAP and other hunger resources is collected on the department’s new food emergency webpage.
- If you weren’t receiving SNAP or MFIP but your child had free or reduced lunch, you can apply for P-EBT to help buy food for your family. Apply starting noon June 8.
- South Minneapolis food distribution efforts (Note: Some may be pop-up efforts not licensed by the City of Minneapolis.)
- CANDO (Central Neighborhood Development Organization) Accepting drop-offs at 3715 Chicago Ave., 612-824-1333
- Simpson Food Pantry, 2740 First Ave. S.; 612-874-7741
- CAPI (Center for Asian and Pacific Islanders) Food Shelf, 612-721-0122
- Twin Cities Democratic Socialist of America (TCDSA) are hosting food distribution of hot meals and fresh produce for all southside residents. Northern Sun, 2916 E. Lake St.
- Minneapolis farmers markets
- Clothing, financial assistance, groceries, medical care and equipment, and medication through Hennepin County Call 612-348-3000 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.Help is available in multiple languages. Residents in need of assistance are assigned a Human Services Navigator to help connect to available services and resources.
- Pharmacy service How to get pharmacy services if your pharmacy has been damaged or closed.
- Pet food The People & Pets Together pet food shelf is open to residents of Minneapolis who need help feeding and caring for pets. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday. No appointment necessary. 3745 Bloomington Ave. S., 612-722-9998.
Gas Service Assistance From CenterPoint Energy
CenterPoint Energy offers payment plans and other assistance for residents and small businesses that may be struggling financially.
Paying your natural gas bills to the extent possible can avoid accumulating large unpaid balances. To arrange a payment plan based on your specific circumstances, call CenterPoint Energy Customer Service at 612-372-4727 or 800-245-2377.
Suspending disconnections and late payment fees
Since March, CenterPoint Energy has suspended natural gas disconnections for nonpayment and has temporarily waived late payment fees and interest on past due balances.
- CenterPoint Energy 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.
- The Minnesota Energy Assistance Program (EAP) recently received additional funding that allows even more Minnesota households to get help. To find your local EAP service provider, call 800-657-3710 and follow the prompts to enter your ZIP code, or consult a list of service providers by county or tribe available at this webpage.
Enhanced safety during the pandemic
While working throughout the pandemic, CenterPoint Energy has measures to protect the safety and health of customers, employees and contractors. These measures include: physical distancing, asking permission and reading a safety protocol script before entering a customer’s home or business, using face masks and other personal protective equipment, sanitizing tools, and regularly washing hands with soap or hand sanitizer.
Want to Donate Food?
If you’re moved to support your community by donating food, the best way to reach hungry people is through food shelves. And the best way to help food shelves is with monetary donations. The dollars go much further through their own purchases, it prevents food donations from spoiling, and it allows the food shelves to purchase specific items that are needed for 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.
How to donate food
For information on how to support food shelves and meal sites, please visit the Health Department’s food donations page or view the pdf for specific needs shared by food shelves.
Urgent: Do Not Enter Any Damaged Buildings
Sections of eight parkways or park roads totaling 21 lane miles are closed to motor vehicles and open to pedestrians to allow more space for trail users to follow social distancing practices and limit the spread of COVID-19. Park Board staff estimates this will remain in place until at least the end of June.
Please do not enter any damaged buildings. This is very dangerous. The City is blocking sidewalks to keep people away from damaged buildings and working with property owners to secure their properties and get emergency demolitions started as fast as possible.