Protestors mourn George Floyd

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Protestors started at the site where George Floyd was murdered (Chicago and 38th), walked down 38th, Hiawatha and Minnehaha, and ended at the 3rd Precinct at Minnehaha and Lake on Tuesday night, May 26, 2020. (Photo by Jill Boogren)

From Representative Jim Davnie on May 28:

63A Representative Jim Davnie

State Representative Jim Davnie (DFL – Minneapolis) released the following statement after a video surfaced of a white Minneapolis police officer causing the death of George Floyd, a black resident, in South Minneapolis.


“As a Minneapolis legislator, my heart is heavy today. I am heartbroken and angered by the continued cycle of violence provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. This is just the latest grievous example of a long history of abusive use of force, primarily targeting people of color and indigenous communities, by the Minneapolis Police Department. I appreciate the Mayor’s leadership demonstrated by the termination of the four officers involved. This is an important break in the culture of impunity too common in policing today, and there is much more that swiftly needs to happen at all levels of government to rebuild the critical trust between community members and the police.


In order to deescalate the immediate situation and start the process of rebuilding our community I am urging:

  • A speedy and thorough investigation of the incident by the relevant agencies leading to criminal charges and rigorous prosecution of the law based on the evidence we have by the Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman;
  • An independent investigation is necessary of the police uses of force on predominantly nonviolent protestors on May 26th and May 27th that was escalatory and did not make our community safer;
  • A deep outside investigation into the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department aimed at rooting out racist practices and culture and building a force that protects and serves our community;
  • An overhaul of current public safety training practices and complete reconstruction of de-escalation and implicit bias training of the MPD;
  • A repeal of the state statute preempting communities from utilizing residency requirements for police;
  • A state level taskforce to review state policy and practice as it impacts local police practices and employment with a goal to raising the public confidence in the police. Any such body must include members of the public from communities of color and indigenous communities;
  • State resources to develop alternative practices for community safety and well-being;
  • State resources to support community rebuilding.”

From Ward 12 Council member Andrew Johnson on May 28:

Andrew Johnson, Ward 12 Minneapolis City Council member

On Tuesday morning, like many of you, I watched the video of George Floyd being killed in what I believe is murder at the hands of police. It was horrifying and gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. I called for justice that morning and supported the immediate firing of the police officers involved. I also support the call for criminal charges to be filed immediately by County Attorney Mike Freeman, as I personally believe the evidence we have publicly available is clear enough.

When protests began, I advocated for de-escalation, and like many of you I have been deeply concerned by what appeared to be disproportionate use of force by police that I believe only inflamed the situation. I continue to advocate for de-escalation. I support protesters in exercising their right to free speech, and I also support non-violent civil disobedience which has historically proven necessary at times for change.

Like many of you, I have also been heartsick to watch the destruction that has transpired. I am heartbroken that it has resulted in loss of access to food, medicine, services, jobs, and even housing that so many families relied on, particularly low-income and transit-dependent members of our community. Families living above some of the burned commercial buildings are now homeless and several local independent small businesses have been devastated.

I have been in contact with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor, and many of my colleagues on the Council. There is work underway to help provide emergency access to food and services for those impacted by these losses. There is work underway to help ensure non-violence and achieve peace as people continue to exercise their right to protest, and that must start with de-escalation of the use of force by law enforcement. There is ongoing work to clean-up and there will be work to rebuild our community assets.

It cannot be lost on anyone that the killing of George Floyd is not an isolated incident. Black men in particular, but also indigenous people and people of color (BIPOC), are being disproportionately killed by police in both our city and across our nation. The murder of George Floyd is another horrifying trauma in a wound that is centuries deep and spans immeasurable lives. As a white person I will never know or experience this in the way that so many BIPOC members of our community have. For those of us who are white, we need to listen to BIPOC communities and be allies now more than ever so that we can help achieve a just, safe, healthy, and thriving community for everyone.

In the days and weeks ahead, as we collectively process what has happened and discuss how to proceed, there will be difficult decisions over the future of the Minneapolis Police Department. There are calls for defunding or abolition, as many do not feel that reform is enough or even possible. I believe all options are on the table. Whatever direction we collectively decide to go as a city, we all have a right to safety in our community and to feel safe with those we choose to help protect it.

Not surprisingly, my inbox is flooded and voicemail filled. As I continue to push for justice and peaceful resolution, and as I work to get information and answers, I also read these messages and respond to many, despite being unable to keep up. I am struck by the thoughtfulness of what I am hearing from so many of you. The personal stories. The emotions. The ideas you share. It is humbling and a privilege to read these deeply private and vulnerable thoughts, and to be trusted with your candid and raw feelings. It gives me hope in all of this. It gives me hope because our city is filled with such loving, passionate, and beautiful people. And I know that with all of you, we can get through this difficult and traumatic moment and emerge better.

From Ward 11 Council member Jeremy Schroeder on May 2

Ward 11 Minneapolis City Council member Jeremy Schroeder


I woke up today still heartsick over the dehumanizing death of George Floyd at the hands of MPD officers. These public servants did not serve and protect this community as they are sworn to do. Instead, they took a life from it without any need whatsoever to do so – the exact opposite of their duty. I stood in community last night at the peaceful protest at 38th and Chicago, just a few blocks north of the ward I represent. I saw people come together and care for each other, volunteers pass out hand sanitizer to keep folks safe, and a shared grief that has become too familiar. Later, from home, I saw the same reports as you: dramatic clashes between police and protesters at the Third Precinct, young people and journalists hit by police projectiles, teargas sprayed. I heard from my colleagues who were there that they felt they could not work with officers to deescalate the situation. These reports are alarming, to say the least.

As I’ve said already, I remain committed to doing everything I can to ensure transparency and accountability in this case and going forward. Public information will be posted on the City’s website as it is made available. But justice means something more. The decision yesterday to fire the four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death was the right first step, but it’s only the first step. The community needs and deserves a comprehensive, swift, and fair investigation. The community needs prosecutors to look long and hard at the evidence and do what’s right. City leadership needs to examine the role of the MPD in this death and others, and not simply admire the problem but move toward real solutions. This is about systemic change, not one-off fixes.

The City Council has very limited oversight of MPD operations, but my colleagues and I do have a platform to elevate the voices of community members demanding better, including in the City’s budget process. Those of us in positions of power need to be held accountable. I’m committed to doing better for you, Minneapolis. The reforms we’ve made have not been enough. It is our responsibility to continue working relentlessly to unravel generations of injustice toward our BIPOC neighbors.

I am a public official. I accept your criticism, feedback, input, and outrage. I am grateful to have heard from so many Ward 11 residents demanding more from the City they love – the City that, over these past few days, has let them down. We must move forward together, with tenacity. I invite you to join me in this work, and in remembering Mr. Floyd.


Governor activates National Guard on Thursday, May 28

Today, Governor Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Local leaders have requested National Guard resources after extensive damage to private property occurred and peaceful protests evolved into a dangerous situation for protesters and first responders.


It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction. As George Floyd’s family has said, ‘He would not want people to get hurt. He lived his life protecting people.’ Let’s come together to rebuild, remember, and seek justice for George Floyd,” said Governor Walz.


As Governor, I will always defend the right to protest,” Governor Walz continued. “It is how we express pain, process tragedy, and create change. That is why I am answering our local leaders’ request for Minnesota National Guard assistance to protect peaceful demonstrators, neighbors, and small businesses in Minnesota.”


The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency.


On May 25, 2020, George Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. The Walz-Flanagan Administration is committed to addressing the systemic inequities and discrimination that led to this incident and seeking justice.

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Business along E. Lake St. hit hard by protestors

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Midday along E. Lake St., Thursday, May 28, 2020. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

From Daniel Kennedy at Kennedy and Cain Law (4103 E. Lake St.):

I took a walk this morning after verifying that my building is OK.  Almost all the damage is west of 34th Avenue, starting with broken glass at NAPA, Soderberg’s, TCF, Walgreen’s, US Bank, the library, Cash ’n Pawn, Hamoudi Sabri’s building, the Coliseum, Odd Fellows, and Minnehaha Liquor.  All bus shelters had been smashed.


Auto Zone and Wendy’s had been completely burned.  Firefighters were still spraying 7 Sigma, the residential building under construction in front of Aldi’s, and the mixed use building between VOA and Holy Trinity Apartments.  But those three looked irreparable, unless the building by Aldi’s concrete structure can be salvaged.

The row of buildings with Target was heavily damaged.  Target had been looted.  MPR said this morning that there were flames on the roof of the Target building, and when I walked by there was water pouring out of the charter school and dollar store.  All glass from Target to Planet Fitness was broken.
Even at 10:30 am, people were still looting G&M Tobacco and Sally’s Beauty Products in the Minnehaha Commons residential building next to Cub.
Geek Love was boarding windows, as was Urban Growler.  I don’t know if that was due to broken glass or as a precaution in case of future violence.  The post office had already been boarded.
I did not see any damage at Northern Sun, Migizi, or Wilson Law.  Gandhi Mahal looked OK, but the owner reported two broken windows.  Many businesses bore signs saying “Black Owned” or “Minority Owned.”  It may have helped some businesses, but others with signs suffered damage.
There was lots of graffiti on walls and windows.
Looking out my window today, I’ve seen three businesses with intact windows boarding up as a precaution.  I just have too many windows to make that feasible.  I’ll just have to hope there is no more violence on Lake Street.

View full gallery on Facebook by clicking here.

From the Longfellow Business Association:

We have been hearing from many of you in our business community today after the murder of George Floyd, protests, rioting and the complete devastation of Lake Street, especially at Lake and Minnehaha. We are working with partners to develop a coordinated response for advocacy, leadership and safety. We want your input. Please reach out and tell us what you are feeling, seeing, hearing and how the LBA can support you. We will need you all to help us as we move forward.

Right now, here are a few resources and ways to gather support:

Boarding Windows: Mortenson Family Foundation is donating plywood and some labor for boarding windows. If you have small businesses that would have trouble taking care of boarding themselves and need help, give their info to ZoeAna

Financial Support: Lake Street Council has set up a fundraising platform and all donations will go to go to small businesses that have experienced vandalism. Please share.

Thank you all and please reach out to Kim with any specific ideas, needs and concerns: 612.298.4699 or

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‘The only time I felt threatened was when I was near police’

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Photo by Terry Faust

Letter from photographer Terry Faust, written after being at the 3rd Precinct on Wednesday, May 28 at 9 p.m.:

You know, despite the fact I was amongst angry people, and not many of them had the same skin color as me, I only felt fearful when I was in front of the police barricade where officers were setting off flash-bang bombs and teargas. They were trying to break up a crowd that was big and mad. It did not work. In fact, I don’t believe I’m off base in thinking their actions only made the crowd bigger and madder. I initially moved in front of the police station barricade to see what was going on. Suddenly, people near me started ducking and saying the police were shooting. Shooting? It sounded crazy, but something pinged a lamp pole behind me and something else ticked off the pavement at my feet. I moved away. Today, I discovered they were shooting “marker rounds,” a kind of paintball on steroids. I looked them up online and the manufacturer says: “Training with UTM Man-Marker Rounds requires approved safety goggles, protective face mask, protective gloves, and two layers of clothing.” Needless to say, firing into a crowd that does not have protective clothing and face coverings isn’t wise, and more to the point, the officers’ targets returned to their positions angrier than before when the shooting stopped. It didn’t clear the intersection. My objective take-away from the protest is this: The police, or at least many of them, are their own worst enemy, and it doesn’t seem to bother them. If you take this insight to its extreme it explains why when they kill people, especially people with dark skin, it is of so little concern to them. Some of them have accepted violence, especially violence towards blacks, as a way of doing their job. Today, there are news photos of fires and protesters leaping and cavorting like mad. The media is great at capturing drama. There were a few protesters like that, and I’m sure readers look at those pictures and see crazy people to be feared. I was there and those weren’t the people I feared. The only time I felt threatened was when I was near the police.

Photo by Terry Faust

Photo by Terry Faust

Photo by Terry Faust

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Buses and train service, mail suspended

Posted on 28 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced it is temporarily suspending services, including mail delivery, in South Minneapolis.

The following post offices are closed due to safety concerns:

  • Powderhorn Post Office, 3045 Bloomington Ave., 55407-9998
  • Lake Street Post Office, 110 E. 31st St., 55408-3103
  • Minnehaha Post Office, 3033 27th Ave. S, 55406-9998

The temporary suspension affects delivery to roughly 58,000 homes and 1,700 PO Box customers, according to the USPS.


Buses and trains suspended

All Metro Transit bus and light rail service is being suspended from 4 p.m. through at least the remainder of Thursday, May 28, 2020. “Service is being suspended out of concern for the safety of our riders and our employees,” according to the release. The Blue Line had been suspended earlier, and the Green Line shut down at about 12:30 p.m.

The airport shuttle between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 stations will continue to operate. Afternoon Northstar trips will run accordingly.

An update will be posted on Metro Transit’s website and social media channels by 10 p.m.

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Support the Messenger – We’ve got your back

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen


We are grateful for those who have our back in this important time.
The list is long, but we want to thank our first responders and front-line workers, including those who bring your monthly newspaper to your doorstep.

Especially in these critical times, newspapers have your back.
COVID-19 is a national story that is impacting you at home and at work. Your local newspaper is keeping you informed with current events in your neighborhood and is bringing communities together in these challenging times. From the actions your local government is taking, to lists of local stores that are delivering and tips on what do to when you’re at home, your local newspaper is committed to bringing you the news you need, when you need it.


The Messenger needs your help to keep publishing.
Support your local newspaper today. CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION

Donate for a chance to win:
* Week 1, May 3-9: $20 at Corazon Gifts
* Week 2, May 10-16: $20 at GINKGO Coffeehouse
* Week 3, May 17-23: $20 at Corazon Gifts
* Week 4, May 24-30:
$20 at Urban Forage Winery and Cider House


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<< 6 feet apart >>

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

(Photos by Terry Faust)

West River Road is closed to northbound traffic to allow trail users more space to maintain social distancing. Sections of Cedar Lake Parkway, Lake Harriet Parkway, Lake of the Isles Parkway, Lake Nokomis Parkway, and Main Street S.E. are also closed. Because residents are still congregating in groups, playgrounds, skateparks and athletic fields have been closed. Tennis court nets have been removed and basketball court rims blocked. Gatherings are limited to 10 people or less, and trail users urged to stay six feet apart. (Photo by Terry Faust)

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A firsthand account: From the front line

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen


Stephanie Fox

Workers begin to show up at the small grocery store in South Minneapolis in the dark, to bake the bread that will be sold throughout the day. First responders and those who might be health compromised start arriving two hours later, at 6 a.m., just as the sun is rising, to shop for what they might need.
The staff will be there to help, working in the deli and the butcher shops hidden behind the scenes, or in the front, operating the cash registers, stocking shelves and cleaning surfaces, until the store closes at 8 p.m., as the sun is setting.
When the COVID-19 virus first appeared as a health crisis, grocery stores were just a place to shop for food. But on March 25 the mayor of Minneapolis, followed by Gov. Tim Walz, ordered a lock down of all but essential services. Grocery stores were suddenly pushed to the front lines.
I now work at a supermarket, signing on partially to do my part to help with what I call ‘the war effort.’ But, part of the reason was that, on March 20, Donald Trump announced, with what was almost a throw away line, that schools could forgo standardized testing in the face of the pandemic. Few noticed, but I did. I was employed scoring standardized test essays from across the country. My job was suddenly and unexpectedly gone. What else could I do to supplement my journalism income?
I walked over to my local grocery store and asked, “Are you guys hiring?” They were. They handed me some paperwork and a store t-shirt and I was suddenly on the front lines, an essential worker.
Much of my job is walking the store with a terrycloth rag and a bottle of pink specialty sanitizer, wiping down any surface that people might touch. I also help customers find items and give advice about ingredients and cooking.

Protected by a mask, a cough-barrier and glasses. Anna Mason was covered at the Longfellow Market. Her mother made the mask.

A grocery store, it turns out, is an ideal place to see how people react to a pandemic. With a few, you can see the panic on their faces when they come in the door, acting startled if anyone gets within 10 feet of them. Most arrive trying to follow the new (and ever changing) rules. People do their best to stay six feet from other customers and staff – there are signs reminding people to do so – something difficult in a store where the aisles are narrow. For some customers, sheltering in place is difficult and they see a visit to the grocery as their daily chance to interact with humanity.
At first, hardly any customers wore masks. Now, you can see many secure their masks just before they enter the front door. The store provides customers with hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and thin plastic gloves to use, if anyone wants to do so.
Adjusting to the new world of a pandemic can be difficult. Some people would insist on bringing their reusable bags from home and would get upset and even hostile when asked not to do so. It was almost as if these bags were a talisman against climate change and to not use them for even a few weeks would bring disaster. The bags could carry the virus and created extra work for staff members. As customers noticed that more and more stores around the country banned the bags, and locally, stores no longer charged the five cents for paper or plastic, this became less of a problem.
Another change was when the store added an online shopping option, where staff members fill up carts of food and meet customers in the parking lot. Curbside pickup counts for only about five percent of the store’s business, only about 10 to 14 orders a day, but for those who need it, it’s an important and essential service.
Before the lockdown, many patrons ate out at restaurants or used take-out. Now, with many restaurants closed, people found themselves forced to cook. A lot of shoppers who seldom cooked decided that cooking might be a fun distraction. Those who know little about cooking now can depend on store employees for advice.
One shopper was looking for ‘regular rice’. “That’s gluten free rice,” he said looking at the package. Well, yes. All rice is gluten free. This rice will work. Another customer was looking for a specific jarred ‘picante sauce’ as an ingredient. Picante is Spanish for spicy. Any spicy salsa would work, we told him.
Some products became hard to find. Before the lockdown, few people, except for the most dedicated hobbyist, baked their own bread. Once people found themselves confined to their homes, many decided baking bread sounded fun. For a few weeks, flour seemed to disappear from the shelves and would be snatched up by the lucky customer who happened to arrive at the store at the right time.
Yeast became as valuable as toilet paper. Some people complained that people were hoarding yeast. No one was. It was simply that some once seemingly dull and easy-to-find items like yeast became in huge demand.
The toilet paper situation has a more complicated backstory. Before lockdown, people would use the bathrooms and toilets at work, school or places like restaurants, which use commercial paper made at different factories than the paper meant for home use. The lack of toilet paper was seldom caused by ‘hoarders’ but simply because the factories making the home-style paper couldn’t keep up with the doubled demand.
With the increase of business, the store hired a number of new people, including some high school students. Most employees say they are not worried about working with and interacting with the public. For some, the virus does not seem more than a vague threat to them personally and they’re happy to help with the culturally shared effort against the virus. Part of the job is to stay upbeat for the sake of customers. One employee, Andrea, is the store’s unofficial ambassador, chatting with everyone she meets and cheering them up during these stressful and difficult times.
The store is still hiring. But, even with the increasing business, the store’s manager hopes that in the future, the local economy will become a rising tide and that businesses that are now shuttered will again thrive. It’s part of a “We’re all in this together,” attitude, he said.
I look out the front window of the store. It’s a sunny afternoon and customers are still arriving. I see a familiar sight in the park across the street. A man is walking his beautiful German Shepard dog for the second time that day, taking advantage of a chance to get some fresh air. Life goes on.
During the course of a four-hour shift, I’ve walked around the store more times than I can count, but my Fitbit reads 8,500 steps. The lock down might end soon – or not. But, whatever happens, most people working here are in it for the long haul, making sure everyone can have access to the food they want while staying safe. They were once just clerks but now, they are essential workers and everyone finally appreciates how much they contribute.
* Editor’s note: The photo on this page is not from the same store where reporter Stephanie Fox works.

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Brighten somebody’s day with a kind word

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Belle’s Tool Box will stamp and mail letters to local seniors

39th Ave S, a neighbor donates food during the “Stay Home” pandemic cycle.

The crew at Belle’s Tool Box has wrestled with how to best use their “tools” at this time, and has reached out to a senior center in the neighborhood.
They are encouraging children to draw and write messages to an elderly person confined to their home. Place in a plastic bag and leave in the box located on the Belle’s Tool Box gate on 34th St., just south of 42nd Ave. Owner Lucy Elliott will see that the messages and drawings get to homes of folks who could use a little cheer!
Regarding concern about handling items, Elliott said, “I will handle the items appropriately, and am confident the staff of Longfellow/Seward Healthy Seniors will, as well. Connections between old and young seem especially poignant right now.”
Contact Lucy Elliott with questions or suggestions at

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The ‘Warbler Wave’ is coming

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Numbers will soar in mid-May


Why get excited about warblers? They’re incredibly diverse, colorful, and beautiful. They’re great singers too: a delight to the eye and the ear. They are passing through the Twin Cities right now from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. Pictured here is the American Redstart, courtesy of Nina Koch (Tropical Wings, River Falls, Wis.). (Photo by Nina Koch)

Longfellow resident Dave Zumeta walks the neighborhood every day, with eyes and ears lifted toward the sky. He has been an active birder for 61 years, and this guy knows his stuff. He has identified 182 different species of birds between the railroad bridge at 27th St. and West River Rd., and the Lock and Dam #1 – a distance of less than four miles.
Zumeta was hooked on birding by the time he was eight years old. It’s an activity that doesn’t require any fancy equipment to get started, especially for children. It’s a great family activity, and many species can be seen without binoculars.
Zumeta said, “All you need to do is to look and listen when you walk outdoors.”
Many people think spring is the most exciting time of year to bird watch. The “Warbler Wave” has officially started, which means that the northern migration of these small songbirds (5” average length) to their summer breeding grounds has begun.
The warblers are trickling in from Central America and Mexico, but their numbers will soar between May 10-20 in the Twin Cities. Some of them will stay in this area all summer, but many more will continue their migration to Northern Minnesota and Canada. According to Zumeta, “A person can see a ton of these little birds before the trees leaf out.”
Warblers are Zumeta’s favorite birds, bar none. He not only knows the subtleties of their markings, but can also recognize their songs. His favorite place to watch for warblers isn’t Costa Rica or the Greater Antilles Islands. It’s a sinkhole on 34th St. and 47th Ave. just a stone’s throw from his house. He said, “Seven Oaks Park is the reason we moved where we did. I think it’s one of the best places to bird watch anywhere – and it’s a warbler magnet.”
Zumeta has seen 26 different kinds of warblers there over the years. Even their names are beautiful: the Mourning Warbler, the Hooded Warbler, the Golden-winged Warbler, and the Bay-breasted Warbler, to name a few.
Because the sink hole is a large, natural depression in the ground, it affords protection for migrating warblers from wind and cold. The best days for birding, according to Zumeta, are nasty, rainy, windy mornings in mid-May. He said, “I’ve seen dozens of Yellow-rumped warblers hopping around on the pavement feeding on days like that. The park is surrounded by ornamental conifers such as white pine, white spruce, and northern white cedar. Warblers and other songbirds feast on the insects living in the buds.”
Zumeta is a longtime co-leader of the Longfellow Community Council spring and fall bird walks in the River Gorge. He has generously offered to take out family groups of up to three people for one-hour informal warbler walks between April 25 and May 25, if all are willing to practice social distancing. The suggested minimum age of children is seven years old. Binoculars (and binocular skills) are helpful, but not necessary.
Dave Zumeta can be reached at for questions or scheduling.

1st of 3
This is the first of three consecutive stories on Birds in the Mississippi River Gorge with local bird expert Dave Zumeta. Watch for Raptors in the June Messenger. These stories are meant especially for families with young children. If your child is interested in bird migration, look up the Blackpoll Warbler – an almost unbelievable long distance marathon flier.

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Gypsy moth eradication program planned for May

Posted on 04 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Gypsy moth caterpillars are voracious eaters, and can strip entire trees of their leaves.As an invasive species, they have few natural predators in Minnesota. Repeated defoliation can kill trees, change the mix of tree species in an area, and affect dependent wildlife. (Photo courtesy of MDA)

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), in collaboration with federal, state, and local partners, is proposing to treat gypsy moth populations in the Nokomis area of Minneapolis this spring.
A state monitoring program found a high number of gypsy moths there in 2019. Follow-up site visits also found gypsy moth egg masses, which indicates there are reproducing gypsy moth populations.
The MDA is proposing a management plan to eradicate gypsy moths on 298 acres in the Wenonah neighborhood, with the northern boundary extending into the Keewaydin neighborhood. The proposed treatment area is bounded by the following streets:
• North – 53rd St. E.
• South – Highway 62
• East – 34th Ave. S.
• West – 24th Ave. S.
Two information sessions were held in late February at Crosstown Covenant Church and Keewaydin Recreation Center in the Nokomis neighborhood.
Kimberly Thielen Cremers, MDA Plant Pest Manager said, “We also did a direct mailing to residents in the targeted area. Our staff put flyers in public spaces like bus stops, gas stations, and apartment complexes. All literature was written in English, Spanish, and Somali. We do not have a plan for additional public meetings at this point. However, if there is community interest, our staff can arrange to come and speak at an event.” Contact project manager Marissa Streifel at, if interested.

Gypsy moth in U.S. since 1860s
The European gypsy moth is not native to the U.S. It has worked its way west from Massachusetts, where it was introduced in the 1860s. Isolated populations are appearing in different parts of Minnesota, as gypsy moths continue to advance south and west.
Large numbers of gypsy moth caterpillars can cause a reduction in tree growth, branch dieback, and eventually tree death. The treatments proposed for 2020 will decrease the likelihood of defoliation, and will slow the expansion of gypsy moths in Minnesota and beyond.
Since 1973, the state of Minnesota has been actively surveying for gypsy moths. Minnesota’s first gypsy moth eradication project was conducted in 1980. Since that time, over a million acres have been treated in Minnesota to eradicate or slow advancing gypsy moth populations. Treatments have been conducted throughout the Twin Cities metro area, including the Lowry Hill area of Minneapolis in 2018.

‘Destructive pest’
The gypsy moth is a leaf-eating insect. It belongs to the same order as butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera). It feeds on more than 300 trees and woody plant species found in Minnesota, and is considered one of the most destructive pests in the U.S. For more information about the MDA’s gypsy moth program, email

Foray to be used locally
For the proposed treatment in the Nokomis neighborhood, the MDA and its partners recommend using Foray: a water-based, organic, biological insecticide that kills gypsy moth caterpillars. The active ingredient in this product is the naturally-occurring bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk), and the crystalline proteins it produces. When ingested, the proteins are toxic to gypsy moth caterpillars and other butterfly and moth caterpillar species that are actively feeding.
Thielen Cremers said, “We get a lot of concern about other butterfly and moth species being affected. Foray will only affect caterpillars in the early stages of development that are actively feeding. Applications are made before the general monarch population in this area has returned.”
Foray does not affect humans, mammals, birds, or most beneficial insects including bees. Gypsy moth caterpillars stop feeding and die within a couple days. Foray is broken down naturally by sunlight. Two applications (made about a week apart) are used to make sure all gypsy moth caterpillars in the treatment area are exposed.
The proposed treatments will take place in May when gypsy moth caterpillars are very small. Treatments generally happen early in the morning using an airplane or helicopter. The treatments are applied at low altitudes, approximately 50 feet above the treetops. Aircraft are equipped with the latest available technologies to ensure application is accurate. Non-forested areas such as large fields, stretches of pavement, and open bodies of water are not treated.
Thielen Cremers explained, “If a person is out during an application, they will smell a slight fermenting in the air. The product is applied at a rate of one-half gallon per acre, and more than 90% of that is water. Most people will not notice more than a fine mist, if even that.
“Exact dates and times of application will depend on weather conditions and caterpillar development. You may see or hear the low flying aircraft in your neighborhood at the time of application.”
To learn more:
• The MDA will mail a postcard that will identify a timeframe for the treatments.
• Go to to sign up for text or email messages.
• Call MDA’s Arrest the Pest line (888-545-6684).
• Follow MDA on social media:,

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