Minneapolis Parks kick out the State Patrol (UPDATE: Mayor vetoes)

 

Minneapolis is known for its beautiful and extensive park system. One would think that the people fortunate enough to serve on the board that oversees this urban garden would concentrate on maintenance, expansion, outreach, and other obvious necessities. But the poison is in the groundwater now.

A divided Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed an emergency resolution to kick the State Patrol out of parks headquarters, where troopers would take breaks and eat lunch.

An emergency resolution. 

Commissioner Londel French, 

If you’re curious:

French, 46, whose day job is union organizer, had pushed the Park Board to allow homeless people displaced by the pandemic and civil unrest to take refuge in city parks.

This summer, the Powderhorn encampment swelled to 560 tents, a mini-community supported by volunteers like him. But within weeks, it had become so dangerous that the Park Board cleared the eastern encampment using police and heavy machinery. Last week, it did the same with the remaining campers on the west side.

As Park Board commissioners passed new restrictions on encampments, French joined the rest in acknowledging the problem was far bigger than a park system could handle.

Perhaps because the parks are not places for tents and propane stoves and a clickety thicket of needles underfoot. But, as that article noted, 

“I just want people to have some grace when it comes to their fellow man or woman,” he said. “Just care about people. Care about people. That’s all.”

Some people. From Minnesota Public Radio, during the worst of the encampment:

Every night, Angelina Roslik says she can watch a steady stream of cars pass in front of her home on a dead-end street overlooking Powderhorn Park in south Minneapolis.

The cars — backing in and out, pulling up next to each other, or idling for long stretches at a time — are a new presence here, she says.

Roslik believes they’re symptomatic of an uptick in open drug use and sex trafficking — something she says is tied to an encampment of people who started gathering in the park last month.

“If you sit here long enough, you’ll start to see people coming and going. Coming to the passenger side window. Like we see right there,” Roslik said, looking out from her front porch on Saturday night. “A lot of times, it’s a woman getting in and out.”

The article goes on to quote one resident, a self-described liberal, as saying “conditions have become unsafe not just for neighbors, many of whom are immigrant families with young children.”

Perhaps, as property owners, they should check their privilege. Anyway. 

French, who authored the resolution, advocated ending the Park Board’s relationship with the State Patrol due to its role in suppressing protests and riots over police brutality.

Since 2012, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has had a license agreement allowing State Patrol troopers to use its headquarters at 2117 West River Road as a rest area for free, where they can work on reports as long as they use their own equipment. Commissioners last voted in 2018 to extend the agreement through January 2022.

It was a 5-4 vote, so there was some pushback:

Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw objected. “This seems like political grandstanding to me,” she said. “It’s my understanding that they use the parking lot and the toilet.”

True, perhaps, but it’s the perception of the penumbras of the emanations. Better to kick them out, so you can admire your hands: so clean. So shiny. Such a virtuous glow. Tick off that box and move along to the next.

UPDATE: Mayor Frey vetoed the resolution. 

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  1. navyjag Lincoln
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    James, so what is the homeless population of Minneapolis now? Great place when we saw it in 2016.  SF homeless now 8,000 and growing. What a world. 

    • #1
  2. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I think you could argue that sitting in a parking lot and using the restroom at a state park, would constitute a public accommodation.  You wouldn’t get away with barring black people, or women, or any other specific group.

    Besides which, I think it’s unenforceable.  You’re a state park out in the hinterlands.  If they park in your lot, who’re you going to call?  The State Patrol?  Don’t bother with the county sheriff.  Those guys play poker together.

    • #2
  3. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    navyjag (View Comment):

    James, so what is the homeless population of Minneapolis now? Great place when we saw it in 2016. SF homeless now 8,000 and growing. What a world.

    One of the pieces I cited says it’s 16K statewide. 2018 stats say 41K in Minneapolis, 50% of them Black.

    • #3
  4. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I think you could argue that sitting in a parking lot and using the restroom at a state park, would constitute a public accommodation.  You wouldn’t get away with barring black people, or women, or any other specific group.

    True. But we might just be beyond such archaic considerations, now? It’s now about a hierarchy of intersectional considerations, since that is the only way in which equity can be achieved. 

    • #4
  5. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    “Better to kick them out, so you can admire your hands: so clean. So shiny. Such a virtuous glow. Tick off that box and move along to the next.”

    How dare the residents of the neighborhood, who pay an increasing share of property taxes year after year, dare decry this autonomous village? I’ve heard it referred to as a lifestyle choice, so stigmatizing an area just on the basis of mayyybe a few drug issues or consensual “encounters” sounds like systemic discrimination. And besides, that land was probably stolen from the Indigenous People anyway. What right does anyone have to object to any reclamation efforts??!!

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    The only needles that belong in parks are those of the pine variety.

    • #6
  7. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I think you could argue that sitting in a parking lot and using the restroom at a state park, would constitute a public accommodation. You wouldn’t get away with barring black people, or women, or any other specific group.

    True. But we might just be beyond such archaic considerations, now? It’s now about a hierarchy of intersectional considerations, since that is the only way in which equity can be achieved.

    “Hello? State Police?  We have an emergency, we need police immediately!”

    “Sorry, not allowed.  Call your Park and Recreation Board for help.”

     

    I can dream can’t I?

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    If there is no crime-fighting in the parks, it must be because there is no crime.

    So … no problem.

    • #8
  9. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus
    @Eridemus

    Well now no need to prohibit them from their negative tendency that could result in policing a demonstration in a park, I presume? So…intersectionality triumphs.

    • #9
  10. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    I think we all needed confirmation of the inherent value-add of anyone serving on a Parks and Recs board who’s OK with stiff-arming the cops who have been forced to deal with the conditions the board helped create.

    It’s a circular firing squad of lunacy.  But hey, we need to see people as people, not as people sticking needles in their arms and living in a tent.  Because people.

    I invite the board to visit other people, like, I don’t know, how about violent felons serving long sentences in federal penitentiaries?  They’re people too.  Go say “Hi, fellow human!” and give ’em a big hug.  Maybe suggest a scintillating round of Parcheesi.

    Build bridges between people.  That’s the Minneapolis Parks and Rec way!

     

    See the source image

     

     

    • #10
  11. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I don’t know, James.  My husband was offered a job in your fair city at the beginning of 2020.  I have never, ever, ever held anyone’s politics against them, but I hesitated at the progressive policies that I knew about that were there back then.  

    My husband said I was being silly.  This would be a great place to live!!!

    I couldn’t sway him on those sorts of objections–feeling uneasy about a blue bubble that wasn’t San Francisco, after all–but there were other reasons that made that job and MN make little sense for us.  We thereby went elsewhere, and I have often held my tongue about how my instincts on the first were right.

    I am sorry for you for I know what it is like to have loved something like your home and yet felt powerless to stop it from being destroyed.

    As for my own family?

    I feel we dodged a bullet.  I am grateful all the time that we did not choose to go where you are, even though it makes me sad that this is the reality.  I mean… profoundly sad.  Truly.

    • #11
  12. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Normie: Let’s band together and clean up the neighborhood. 

    Prog: You can’t do that. That’s gentrification.

    Normie: But don’t you want a safe place to live?

    Prog: Safe? Your use of that word indicates your desire for an oppressive police presence that is literally unsafe for bipoc individuals. 

    Normie: I want all people to be safe.

    Prog: All people do not feel safe in your oppressive capitalist system. You must adjust your attitude. Perhaps a short stay in a re-education facility is in order. Then you will see how the six families that will live in tents in your backyard is a great representation of compassion and diversity. Once you accept the need for equity you will give up your home and let it become community property. You will find tent living liberating. 

    Normie: And you will be my tent mate?

    Prog: Of course not. My followers have purchased a home for me in the new gated community on the West side. My security detail demanded it. 

    • #12
  13. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota.  Too cold for me.  Second, can we bring that publish shame that used to be aimed at commies?   They are brazenly running all the school (and park) boards, when they should be hiding in basements.  As Dee Dee Ramone told us, “Third rule is:  don’t talk to commies!”

    • #13
  14. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    James, have you put your house up for sale to get out before property values fall too far?

     

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    It’s not going to get any better in Minneapolis. The Master of Legal Mediocrity, Merritt Garland will soon be running your police department. If you think local defunding of a police department is bad wait until you see policing under a DOJ consent decree. 

    • #15
  16. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Mr. French can observe what happens to crime frequency when bad actors no longer see State Patrol police cars driving in and out of the park and parked in the parking lot as the officers use the cubicle. 

    • #16
  17. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Perhaps Mr. French can explain to the voters (or whoever chooses the Parks and Recreation Board) what the purpose of the public parks is. Are they for family recreation? Are they for group athletic activities? Are they for scenery? Or, as seems to be Mr. French’s view, are they to provide a place for people who otherwise have not place to go? If the latter, recognize (as suggested by Ms. Roslik) that such use will exclude use by taxpayers for many activities. Each potential use of a park will dictate a different design (and maintenance) of the park. 

    Years ago (1980s) we had that discussion where I then lived as homeless people increasingly hung out in civic plazas and libraries, pushing out office workers taking breaks in the plazas and moms with children in the libraries. People pointed out that those plazas and libraries were built for the citizens, and when a small number of homeless prevent them from being used for their designed purpose, that is a misuse of the taxpayer funds that were used to build and to maintain the plazas and libraries. If you believe there should be a place for the homeless to go, then a facility for that purpose should be built. Not to push people out of facilities designed, built, and maintained for other purposes. 

    • #17
  18. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Normie: Let’s band together and clean up the neighborhood.

    Prog: You can’t do that. That’s gentrification.

    Normie: But don’t you want a safe place to live?

    Prog: Safe? Your use of that word indicates your desire for an oppressive police presence that is literally unsafe for bipoc individuals.

    Normie: I want all people to be safe.

    Prog: All people do not feel safe in your oppressive capitalist system. You must adjust your attitude. Perhaps a short stay in a re-education facility is in order. Then you will see how the six families that will live in tents in your backyard is a great representation of compassion and diversity. Once you accept the need for equity you will give up your home and let it become community property. You will find tent living liberating.

    Normie: And you will be my tent mate?

    Prog: Of course not. My followers have purchased a home for me in the new gated community on the West side. My security detail demanded it.

    Another term for “Normie” might be “BLM Co-Founder.”  But they don’t have just ONE luxury home in a gated community.

    • #18
  19. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    How did these people get elected?! At some point the people who support the people who think this way make it impossible to remain in such a place. It may take some time for the corpse to rot, but rot it must. 

    • #19
  20. DrewInEastHillAutonomousZone Coolidge
    DrewInEastHillAutonomousZone
    @DrewInWisconsin

    James Lileks: French, 46, whose day job is union organizer

    This kind of says it all.

    • #20
  21. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    DrewInEastHillAutonomousZone (View Comment):

    James Lileks: French, 46, whose day job is union organizer

    This kind of says it all.

    Apparently not a police union. 

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Judge Mental (View Comment):

    I think you could argue that sitting in a parking lot and using the restroom at a state park, would constitute a public accommodation. You wouldn’t get away with barring black people, or women, or any other specific group.

    True. But we might just be beyond such archaic considerations, now? It’s now about a hierarchy of intersectional considerations, since that is the only way in which equity can be achieved.

    Did someone say “hierarchy”?

    • #22
  23. Tedley Member
    Tedley
    @Tedley

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota.

    I’m with @dong, I’ve been there a few times in the colder season.  And if there are 41K homeless in Minneapolis, I can only imagine what the numbers are in more temperate climes.

    • #23
  24. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota.  Too cold for me.

    Yeah.  I live in a house and find Minnesota winters more intolerable every year.

    • #24
  25. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota. Too cold for me.

    Yeah. I live in a house and find Minnesota winters more intolerable every year.

    When I first moved to Arizona 30 years ago, the heat didn’t particularly bother me.  By the time I left back in August, I’d had more than enough.  I don’t think it was getting hotter each summer, but I was less and less interested in tolerating it.

    • #25
  26. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Those people in Minneapolis must have been in Seattle recently, taking notes.  Except that Seattle’s rules on homeless camps are worse.  The city may offer the “campers” shelter and other support, but they do NOT have to accept.  If they refuse, they may stay.  Drug use and selling, gun and people-trafficking are the usual occupations in the Seattle camps.  And a large number of Seattle parks have been taken over by homeless encampments.  The latest news is that the Seattle School District is refusing to move a homeless encampment just over a chainlink fence from an elementary school.  The School Board Members have vowed NOT to move that encampment, valuing street criminals over Seattle children.  Parents are not pleased.

    • #26
  27. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota. Too cold for me.

    Yeah. I live in a house and find Minnesota winters more intolerable every year.

    When I first moved to Arizona 30 years ago, the heat didn’t particularly bother me. By the time I left back in August, I’d had more than enough. I don’t think it was getting hotter each summer, but I was less and less interested in tolerating it.

    I never got used to it. When the weather is decent, you have the least sunlight. People love it for some reason.

    • #27
  28. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota. Too cold for me.

    Yeah. I live in a house and find Minnesota winters more intolerable every year.

    When I first moved to Arizona 30 years ago, the heat didn’t particularly bother me. By the time I left back in August, I’d had more than enough. I don’t think it was getting hotter each summer, but I was less and less interested in tolerating it.

    I never got used to it. When the weather is decent, you have the least sunlight. People love it for some reason.

    I didn’t mind it at first, but that was after living in Oregon for 30 years.  I guess 30 years of cold/rain was enough, and then 30 years of heat was enough.

    • #28
  29. RufusRJones Member
    RufusRJones
    @RufusRJones

    kedavis (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) (View Comment):
    First, I am impressed by anyone spending the winter in a tent in the state of East Dakota. Too cold for me.

    Yeah. I live in a house and find Minnesota winters more intolerable every year.

    When I first moved to Arizona 30 years ago, the heat didn’t particularly bother me. By the time I left back in August, I’d had more than enough. I don’t think it was getting hotter each summer, but I was less and less interested in tolerating it.

    I never got used to it. When the weather is decent, you have the least sunlight. People love it for some reason.

    I didn’t mind it at first, but that was after living in Oregon for 30 years. I guess 30 years of cold/rain was enough, and then 30 years of heat was enough.

    If the dewpoint never got above 48° in Phoenix, I would probably still be there.

    My sister lives in mid-East Bay, No Cal before you get to the humidity. Ten miles east of Oakland. I really like that.

    I lived in Seattle. In my opinion, that is great as long as you don’t have seasonal affective disorder. The rain isn’t a big deal.

    • #29
  30. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Those people in Minneapolis must have been in Seattle recently, taking notes. Except that Seattle’s rules on homeless camps are worse. The city may offer the “campers” shelter and other support, but they do NOT have to accept. If they refuse, they may stay. Drug use and selling, gun and people-trafficking are the usual occupations in the Seattle camps. And a large number of Seattle parks have been taken over by homeless encampments. The latest news is that the Seattle School District is refusing to move a homeless encampment just over a chainlink fence from an elementary school. The School Board Members have vowed NOT to move that encampment, valuing street criminals over Seattle children. Parents are not pleased.

    It’s beyond comprehension. Scott Adams reflected yesterday (not on this story but more generally) it’s as if there was a weapon that could beam things at you and cause literal brain damage. Oh, it exists and its called “CNN”.  

    • #30