Citizens don’t want ‘false choice’ around Third Precinct

Community leaders, business owners and citizens call for robust community engagement to heal trauma after George Floyd’s murder by Third Precinct officers before building discussion that offers just two choices to residents


“For 20 years, we’ve been putting democracy to work on Minnehaha Ave in the shadow of the precinct building,” observed Henry Slocum of The Hub Bike Co-op (3016 Minnehaha Ave). “We’re asking now that the City of Minneapolis change course and honestly attempt to do the same.”
Slocum represents one of the 17 businesses and organizations that joined with 16 neighborhoods within the Third Precinct that rejects any decision made though the April city-led process regarding the Third Precinct building, and demands the creation of a community-led intentional and respectful outreach process that focuses on restorative justice. He and others spoke during a press conference on Tuesday, May 16 at city hall regarding the resolution passed by the Longfellow Community Council (LCC) that they also signed.
Slocum, who was recently elected to the Longfellow Business Association Board, added, “Until a month ago, not once had a city official come to talk with members of our business community about our visions, hopes, and concerns, or even how we had been impacted by the police murder of George Floyd and the events that followed. In the past three years, we’ve had robust conversation and process among neighbors, community, and business partners, facilitated by various groups and organizations, about the issues we face and development plans that meet our neighborhood’s needs. If the city of Minneapolis wants to say that concerned residents and business owners engaged in the process of deciding where to locate a future Third Precinct building, it has significantly more work to do.”

Many asked why the city is rushing to do something now after three years of silence, in a month before the third anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.
The city held five conversations on the Third Precinct that were organized in only six weeks, and were limited to discussing two options for a new building to house the Third Precinct. One is renovating and expanding the site at Lake and Minnehaha at an estimated cost of $12 million that will take three years, or building a new building at Minnehaha and 26th that will cost $24 million and take five years.
The LCC was contracted by the city to help organize locations for community meetings, inform residents and get people into the room. “LCC had to wait until the city’s webpage about the full outreach plan was live to share information about the community conversation meetings,” pointed out LCC Executive Director Rachel Boeke. “That meant we weren’t able to promote these events until 13 days before the first was scheduled to be held.
“As a neighborhood organization, LCC has to give community members a 21 day notice for big community decisions - like electing our board membership or large funding decisions. The future of the Third Precinct building js an incredibly critical decision and deserves so much more than this current process has allowed.
“LCC wanted to be involved in this community engagement process to include as many community members as possible believing that any decision about the future of the Third Precinct site needs to be made by the people.
“The city process became the opposite of that, which is why the LCC Board of Directors passed a resolution rejecting any decision made through this effort about the Third Precinct building until a new community engagement process has been carried out – an intentional and respectful community-led process with a focus on restorative justice.
“LCC demands the development of a new timeline to define a shared community vision for a new facility or facilities, and how the former site of the Third Precinct should serve the community.”

Sam Gould of Confluence Studio helped organized neighbors to care for one another and to do the work that needed to be done in the midst of the protests. Neighbors gathered supplies and fought fires that the Minneapolis Fire Department couldn’t get to. Gould pointed out that the violence done by officers at the Third Precinct existed for decades before George Floyd was murdered. “Here is a moment for us to do things differently,” said Gould. “Our neighborhood – we experienced something the world watched. We have a moment now to change that narrative. To do something different.”
Nickey Robare has an art studio in the Ivy Building, and worked to put out a fire there during the protests that followed the murder of George Floyd. “The effects of the night in 2020 when the Third Precinct burned have stayed with me - I find myself and many of my neighbors continue to struggle with PTSD from the MPD’s behavior before and throughout the uprising following the murder of Mr. George Floyd,” she said. “The community members of the Third Precinct are traumatized. Last month, I saw a room full of business owners in tears because the city is pushing forward a return to the status quo without any attempt at building trust and addressing the community’s trauma.
“There has been a narrative created that business owners who lost property during the uprising blame the protesters. But for myself and many other local business owners, that could not be further from the truth. The commitment to the fight for Black lives and an end to state violence remains steadfast. We need to see that the city of Minneapolis cares about us before they even begin to consider rebuilding the Third Precinct. People over property, always.”
Anna Tsantir owns Two Bettys Green Cleaning, which operates from two sites in Longfellow, one .3 miles down Minnehaha Ave. from the Third Precinct building. “This community has been through a lot, and it deserves more transparency, and (above all else) a vision for the future to pull us through and into an innovative future where safety is for everyone,” said Tsantir, who also serves on the Longfellow Business Association Board. “The void that has been created by a lack of those things has only deepened divisions and mistrust.”

“Phillips West Neighborhood Organization (PWNO) stands in solidarity with our neighbors at the Longfellow Community Council and request that the resolution put forward by LCC be honored and adopted by the City of Minneapolis,” said J Randolph. “The issue of the Third Precinct is not an isolated one. The systemic racism identified by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights will continue to thrive if our neighbors are ignored and denied their right to representational governance. Our communities have expressed their distrust of the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Police Department and are demanding to be heard and included in the decision making process; we believe that that is the minimum our communities are owed and we will fight for community autonomy and self-determination until we are heard and the demands are met.”
“We want our residents and businesses voices to be heard,” said Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association staff member Kate Gens, pointing out that it will build trust and justice.
“At this time, the Seward Neighborhood Group opposes locating a Third Precinct building at either 3000 Minnehaha Avenue or 2600 Minnehaha Avenue. Further, the Seward Neighborhood Group requests that the City of Minneapolis pilot new ideas for the delivery of public safety services in the Third Precinct, including but not limited to a decentralized approach to housing Third Precinct staff,” said Seward Neighborhood Group Board President Lisa Boehlke
Nokomis East Neighborhood Association Executive Director Brandon Long stated, “Let the community make a real decision.”


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