Residents of a Minneapolis neighborhood described by the New York Times as “a haven to leftist activists and bohemian artists” vowed not to call the police to protest racial injustice — and now their tree-lined neighborhood is a haven for crime and hundreds of homeless people.
What are the details?
It was in Powderhorn Park where the Minneapolis City Council officially launched its “defund the police” initiative following the death of George Floyd on May 25. The council dreamed of a “transformative new model” of public safety where community social workers — not armed police officers — enforced the law. Neighborhood residents happily obliged.
But since then, according to the Times, the park has reportedly been taken over by hundreds of new homeless residents displaced amid the unrest in the city, and residents are finding it difficult to stand by their pledge.
One resident, Shari Albers, a former block club leader who organized “her mostly white neighbors to bring in playgrounds and help tackle longstanding issues with crime,” is now kept awake at night by the “Powderhorn Park Sanctuary.”
“I am afraid,” she said. “I know my neighbors are around, but I’m not feeling grounded in my city at all. Anything could happen.”
The Times reported that the homeless community “has drawn heavy car traffic into the neighborhood, some from drug dealers.”
Linnea Borden said she has stopped walking her dog through the area because she is sick of being catcalled, while Carrie Nightshade has stopped letting her kids play in the park because it’s dangerous.
“I’m not being judgmental,” she insisted. “It’s not personal. It’s just not safe.”
Joseph Menkevich found a black man wearing a hospital bracelet passed out in an elevator in his apartment building. He phoned a community activist but she didn’t answer, so he called 911 and requested an ambulance. Instead, a white police officer reportedly came and offered to take the man to the hospital. When the man refused, he made him exit the building.
Menkevich lamented his decision to dial 911.
“It didn’t resolve in a way that I had hoped,” he said. “All they did was offer to bring him back to the hospital. He refused, so they kicked him out on a rainy night.”
One resident broke his pledge, and ‘regrets’ it
Last week, Mitchell Erickson was cornered outside his home by two black teenagers, and one stuck a gun in his chest.
They demanded his car keys, but when he mistakenly gave them his house keys, the boys got frustrated and ran off before reportedly stealing someone else’s car.
After the altercation, Erickson decided to call the police, a decision he now says he “regrets.”
“Been thinking more about it,” Erickson wrote in a text to a New York Times reporter. “I regret calling the police. It was my instinct but I wish it hadn’t been. I put those boys in danger of death by calling the cops.”
The reporter allegedly responded asking about the fact that the boys put his life in danger.
Erickson replied: “Yeah I know and yeah it was scary but the cops didn’t really have much to add after I called them. I haven’t been forced to think like this before. So I would have lost my car. So what? At least no one would have been killed.”