Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

RCV in 2009

It looks like a 2009 implementation of Ranked Choice Voting (aka IRV) in City elections is more likely than ever. While we did not find machines to do the job, staff is recommending that we use a hand count. I am very supportive of this idea.

Below for your information is the text from a memo we received this morning.

I think this is great news. It is my understanding that the only way this could be delayed now is if the City Council actually voted to delay it, despite our staff saying it is possible. I can't imagine how we could justify doing that. So, I am celebrating a little today and I invite you to do the same.

==========================

M E M O R A N D U M


To: City Council Members

From: Cindy Reichert, Elections Director

Subject: Responses to Voting Equipment RFP

Date: September 30, 2008


On August 1st the City of Minneapolis received responses to a Request for Proposal for services and equipment needed to conduct municipal elections using the method of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Proposals were received from only two vendors; Elections Systems and Software, Inc., and TrueBallot, Inc. City Elections staff has conducted a review of both proposals and has determined that neither proposal meets our requirements.

This office recommends that the City of Minneapolis conduct municipal elections using a combination of our current equipment and a hand count of those races in which candidates do not reach the threshold for election. Our intent is to continue to work with our election partners to develop an equipment solution that will meet the needs of Minneapolis voters.

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act requires that only the names of the responders are public data. All other information regarding the proposals is classified as non-public, and therefore accessible only to the proposers themselves and to government officials whose duties reasonably require access. The proposals and their contents (with the narrow exception of trade secret data) become public data, accessible to everyone, only if the City completes negotiations with a selected Contractor.

In addition, please note that some information discussed in relation to the RFP proposals may relate to an ongoing lawsuit, Minnesota Voters Alliance v. City, which challenges the constitutionality of IRV. That material may therefore fall under attorney-client privilege and can only be disclosed in the event a majority of the council votes to waive the privilege.


cc: Gary Winter, Assistant City Attorney
Lisa Needham, Assistant City Attorney

Monday, September 29, 2008

Minneapolis has been named one of the most sustainable cities in the United States by SustainLane.com, an online people-powered guide to sustainable living. Minneapolis ranked number seven, moving up from the tenth spot in 2005, among the 50 most populous cities in the nation.

SustainLane’s rankings are based on 16 different indicators that cover many sustainable practice areas, including local food availability, tap water quality, air quality, metro transit ridership, energy and climate change, and green building practices; the indicators show where cities are excelling or struggling. The rankings also take into consideration the chance of natural disasters and the preparation that cities have made to handle those catastrophes.

Minneapolis ranked high among other cities in many indicators, such as the availability of local food and agriculture (#1), city innovation (#6) and green economy (#7). The city was referred to as a “Midwestern jewel of a city” and was also recognized for the climate change grants that the City awards to groups for funding projects aimed at tackling global warming.

Creating a more sustainable community is a top priority for Minneapolis. The quality of life in the city is linked to the health and well-being of our community and our environment. Minneapolis has focused limited resources and reformed city government processes to be a more sustainable city, which means a city that meets its current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This can be accomplished by balancing environmental, economic, and social equity concerns. All of us – residents, businesses and government – can take actions everyday that will make Minneapolis better today and create a positive legacy for future generations.

To learn more about Minneapolis’ sustainability efforts, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/sustainability.

CenterPoint Meetings

Natural gas utility CenterPoint Energy will be holding two meetings in the Second Ward to give residents information about natural gas bill payment assistance:

October 1, 5-8pm at Matthews Park.

October 14, 5-8pm at
Van Cleve Park.

Community Action will help folks complete their applications, and CenterPoint Energy will meet to discuss payment plan options. If you attend, please bring your most recent CenterPoint Energy bill and household income verification, which are both required to complete energy assistance applications. If you can't attend one of these meetings and need help, call 612-372-4680 or go here.

Environmental Purchasing Policy

Today, the Health Energy and Environment committee moved forward an exciting new Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Policy, which creates some great new standards for goods and services purchased by the City. For instance, all of our paper products will contain the highest post consumer content practicable. As importantly, the Purchasing Department has been empowered to automatically substitute more environmentally friendly products.

I attempted to strengthen this action in two small but important ways. First, because it's not practical to include every single thing the City buys or may ever buy in a policy like this, I moved to add text that would cover goods and services not enumerated in the policy. The text stated that the City will use the precautionary principle and err on the side of protecting human health and the environment when making decisions about products not listed in the policy.

Second, I moved to require the new "Sustainable Purchasing Committee" created by the policy to report back to the HE&E committee annually on the percentage of City purchases that continue to be environmentally unfriendly. I believe that a policy is only as good as our measurement of whether it is being followed or not (see: police practices resolution), and that any organization is much more likely to do what it knows it will be judged on.

Surprisingly, the committee voted down these commonsense amendments on a 3-2 vote. CM Lilligren joined me in voting to strengthen the policy. CMs Goodman, Hofstede and Ostrow voted not to, and committee chair CM Benson did not vote.

One of the examples that CM Goodman used in voting against the first amendment is actually a great lens through which to see the disagreement. She mentioned dog food. Obviously, the City's Animal Care and Control Department buys dog food for the dogs in the pound. CM Goodman's (relatively rhetorical) question was whether, in my opinion, we should be spending more on more environmentally-friendly dog food.

Not being an expert on dog food, I can't give a pat answer. However, I can state without any hesitation that the environmental impacts of our options on dog food (just like our paper, fuel, and cleaning products) should be examined. Would dog food from organic sources, from a local vendor, which does not include spinal cord tissue (strongly suspected in BSE or Mad Cow disease transmission), be environmentally preferable? Probably. If such an option is cost-competitive with a less ecologically friendly choice, should we pay attention to the different ecological impacts of the two? Absolutely.

This is the whole point of this policy. What we said today is, basically, that when a product works about as well, costs a similar amount (even if slightly more expensive), and is clearly better for people and the environment, it's the product the City should buy. I am confused about why someone would be comfortable voting for this policy as a whole and not covering dog food, or any other good or service not explicitly mentioned in the policy.

I suspect that if I had done a better job and been better prepared before the committee meeting I might have had a better outcome. After all, this policy had been reviewed by our internal work group The Environmental Coordinating Team (ECT) and our resident appointed community board - The Citizens Environmental Advisory Committee (CEAC). Both groups did an outstanding job improving the policy. I actually used feedback from one of our CEAC members, Janelle Sorenson, (who did an enormous amount of work on this project from start to finish and deserves a great deal of credit) to craft my amendments.

I actually think that if I have more time to talk to me fellow Council Members --- even those who opposed these amendments in committee --- there is a chance I can win them over.

I am considering bringing these amendments back when this item comes before the Council, with some potential changes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Another Tragedy on the West Bank

On Monday, at approximately 5:09pm, Ahmed Nur Ahmed Ali was shot outside of the Brian Coyle Center on the West Bank. The 20-year-old Augsburg College student had just finished his first day as an intern for the Center.

This is the third homicide this year in the neighborhood.

West Bank residents and business owners have been taking increasing steps to prevent the rising tide of youth violence, including a twice-weekly safety walk. The City has partnered with organizations in the area to help improve the physical condition of commercial spaces, increase beat patrols and coordination between area security officers.

I have heard that the Brian Coyle Center is proposing to install security cameras outside, hire a security officer or police liaison from 5-10pm nightly, work to increase police presence in Currie Park and surrounding streets and hire two Somali outreach workers focused on connecting with Somali young adults. These ideas and more were discussed on Thursday, September 24th at noon at the Brian Coyle Center where community members and others spent over 3 hours listening and discussing this at a meeting called by Pillsbury United, the Somali Conferdation of Minnesota and Augsburg College.

At the meeting and in several phone calls I heard concerns about the fact that the police had not covered the victim's body. This is standard police procedure - all relevant evidence must be collected from the crime scene before any changes can be made to it - but there is a strong cultural and religious impulse within the Somali community to cover bodies. I have offered to work with the MPD on a protocol for screening victims from view in these sorts of tragic circumstances, to keep from offending the sensibilities of communities already reeling from this sort of event.

I am also actively exploring making the West Bank one of the City's target neighborhoods for our Youth Violence Prevention work. It is not at this time, because when the plan was drafted there had been no homicides on the West Bank in years. I believe it is time to reevaluate this, given the tragic year we've had.

Lastly, I am deeply concerned about how hard it is to solve these homocides. No one has been arrested or charged in any of the 3 cases. Anyone with information about incident please call the MPD Tip Line (612)-692-TIPS (8477)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Personal Safety Workshop

The Community Crime Prevention division of the Minneapolis Police Department is hosting a personal safety workshop on Thursday, October 16, 7-9pm at Washburn High Auditorium, 201 W 49th St.

The workshop will be led by Mary Brandl, a self defense expert. If you have questions, please call Crime Prevention Specialist Amy Lavender at 612-673-5407 or amy.lavender(at)ci.minneapolis.mn.us.

Parking Requirements - Input Opportunities

City Planning staff has been working for some time on text amendments for the zoning code, dealing with off-street parking requirements. They've done extensive research into best practices in other cities and come up with a general direction for the revision. It calls for more flexible and context-sensitive minimum parking requirements, more widespread use of bicycle parking requirements, and the first-ever set of limits on the amount of automobile parking that can be provided. (It's important to note that the ongoing University District study will also potentially create unique parking rules for the U District neighborhoods, which would trump this citywide change.)

Planning staff have scheduled opportunities for community input:

Focus group with business associations, Wednesday, October 1, 10–11am, Northeast Library meeting room, 2200 Central Ave NE.

Neighborhood-focused open house, Thursday, October 16, 6:30–8:30pm, Martin Luther King Recreation Center multi-purpose room, 4055 Nicollet Ave.

Friday, September 19, 2008

How can I file a complaint against a Minneapolis police officer?

In light of the recent concerns that have been raised about police actions during the RNC, I thought it might be useful for people to know options that have to I file a complaint against a Minneapolis police officer? As a council member I can use the number, nature and status of complaints to help me guide discussion and policy decisions. To date there have been no formal external complaints made related to RNC activity.

To file a complaint you have 3 options within the City. If you have a lawyer please consult with them before proceeding with any of these.

The Police Internal Affairs Unit, the Mpls. Civilian Police Review Authority and the Mpls. Dept. of Civil Rights provide citizens with avenues to bring complaints of misconduct and inappropriate behavior against Police.


A complaint can be initiated by contacting the Minneapolis Civilian Police Review Authority (CRA) office and speaking to an investigator. An official complaint does not exist until an investigator drafts a written complaint, the individual signs the complaint, and it is received in the CRA office. The CRA office is located in the Grain Exchange Building, 301 4th Avenue South, Room 670, Minneapolis, MN 55415. You can telephone the CRA at 612-673-5500.


The Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance specifies that it is illegal to discriminate based on race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, and status with regard to public assistance. A complaint must be filed in person. You may come directly to the Minneapolis Civil Rights Office (City Hall, 350 S 5th Street, Room 239) or call (612) 673-3012 for an appointment. If possible, complete an intake questionnaire prior to meeting with an intake officer. An intake officer will meet with you in person after reviewing your intake questionnaire. The intake officer then drafts an official charge of discrimination. After the charge of discrimination is signed and notarized, the charge is filed and all parties are notified within 10 business days.

The Mpls. Police Departments Internal Affairs Unit is responsible for investigating complaints of employee misconduct and violations of department rules and regulations. External complainants have the option of going to the MPD Internal Affairs Unit or any MPD supervisor with their complaint. It is the stated duty of all MPD employees to report any perceived violation of MPD regulations, rules, procedures, orders, civil service rules, city policies, city ordinances or state or federal laws committed by another MPD employee. Complaints can be directed to Internal Affairs Unit City Hall, Room 126350 South 5th Street Minneapolis, MN 55415, 612) 673-3074, Fax: (612) 373-3843

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Post-RNC After-Action Report

As you can read here, the Mayor and Council President Johnson have asked for an "After Action Review" and report to Council by the Minneapolis Police Department. This is in addition to the Heffelfinger/Luger investigation, which will focus on police actions in St. Paul.

Though I continue to think that one comprehensive, multi-jurisdictional investigation into the actions of all law enforcement agencies involved in RNC events (including federal, state, county and local agencies) would be most useful, I will support any meaningful Minneapolis-specific investigation and/or report.

To make the Mayor's requested report as meaningful as possible, I attempted to pass the following staff direction at today's Public Safety and Regulatory Services committee:



Staff Direction
By Gordon

MPD staff will conduct an After Action Review and produce a report on the RNC, to be completed by the end of October 2008 and provided to the Mayor and Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee.

This report will focus on the major incidents that occurred during the Convention, including:
- the Critical Mass Ride
- the Media Party
- the Liberty Parade
- the Rage against the Machine concert
- MPD’s participation in preemptive raids on 8/29/08
- MPD’s participation in law enforcement responses to protests in St. Paul


It will also evaluate how downtown security worked overall, and how well operations
and training protocols, including the 7/25/08 resolution adopting police policies regarding public assemblies, were implemented. It will identify what worked and what did not, and recommend if necessary any policy changes.

In addition, the MPD will:

Evaluate MPD training for the convention and identify best practices and any areas for improvement.

Disclose the number, nature, and status of internal affairs investigations as a result of complaints about incidents that occurred the week of the convention, the week before and the week after.

Provide information on downtown security, where the Secret Service was most involved.

Provide information on Federal law enforcement and the Joint Terrorism Task Force’s actions leading up to and during the Convention.

Work with the Saint Paul Independent investigation led by Andy Luger and Tom Heffelfinger as requested by the investigating team.

The MPD’s actions on these five items will also be included in the After Action Review report.
The italicized portions of the above are not covered in the request from the Mayor and Council President.

I find it difficult to believe that my colleagues CM Ostrow, Samuels, Johnson and Hofstede decided they did not want this information explicitily requested to be part of an After Action Review. I was espcially surprised that other Council Members on the committee --- besides myself and CM Schiff---- didn't want to learn more about our role in the "preemptive raids," that were led by Ramsey County but occured in our City and I find it odd and frustrating that more of my colleagues did not want to hear about how well our staff followed the resolution we just unanimously passed on July 25th.



I am also extremely disappointed and surprised that my colleagues did not only decide for themselves that they did not want answers to the questions above, but that by voting down CM Schiff's motion to send my staff direction forward without recommendation, they decided that they did not want the majority of CMs who do not sit on the committee to have a chance to weigh in.





Whether my colleagues want information on the above topics or not, I'm convinced that the people of Minneapolis do, and I will therefore continue to ask these questions. If the information I attempted to ask for is not in the MPD's After Action Report, I will be sure to ask about it in the public meeting when the report is being given to the Council. I'll be interested to see if Chief Dolan and MPD staff include this information in the report. I am hoppeful that city staff will include some of this information because they judge it to be of value, but if they don't, responsiblity for its ommission will clearly reside with this committee.

I consider it to me a my duty as a Council Member, as a policy-maker and as a someone elected to represent the people of Ward 2, to seek out knowledge, to gather information and to ask questions that I feel will be of value to me and to my community. Indeed I consider fact finding, data gathering and sound research to be a first and vital step towards any kind of policy-making or decision-making proccess.

My ability to do my job was just made a little harder today.

Interesting Recount Opportunity

I had an interesting opportunity today to participate in a state recount, stemming from the fact that the margin between the second and third place candidates in a judicial race was within .05% of the total votes cast. State statute calls for a mandatory recount of votes for the two candidates.

Minneapolis Elections jumped into action, making their Elections Warehouse and Training Center the counting center for the more than 40,000 ballots cast in the cities of Minneapolis, Richfield and St. Louis Park. Our Elections Director, Cindy Reichert, put out a call for help to Council staff, and I took her up on the opportunity to see the inner workings of democracy in action.

The Counting Center was already filling with staff from the three cities elections departments and clerks' offices, folks from the Secretary of State's office and others when I arrived at 8:30. I was impressed at the quick but thorough training we received, and at the efficiency of the recount when it started at 9. My partner (a personable guy from the SOS's office) and I set to work, sorting votes into three piles - one for each of the candidates and one for all other ballots. Given the dropoff between the top-tier races and judicial races, along with the fact that the two candidates in question had come in second and third, the 'other' pile was by far the largest. After piles were created, we counted the ballots for each candidate and tallied them against the machine count.

We found a few discrepencies, all accounted for by people who had marked ballots improperly but with clear intent. One voter had put a faint 'X' in an oval, another had circled a candidate's name. Over the course of three hours, these extra votes canceled each other out, adding minutely to both candidates' totals.

I had scheduled time to go back tomorrow morning, but the recount, which was expected to take until Friday, was completed today.

All in all, it was a fascinating experience, and cements my faith in the efficiency and skill of our Elections Department and staff.

Green Building Web Page

Recently, the City unveiled a new Green Building web page. This page is accessed from the Minneapolis Development Review homepage, and contains information and links to encourage our customers to use more environmentally sustainable building practices, such as renewable energy, reused and recycled materials, energy efficiency and stormwater management.



This is a key component of the City's Green Building Initiative, and I commend Development Review for completing this great website - and for sharing the same information with people at the MDR counter day after day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

BPA

A new study provides yet more evidence that Bisphenol-A (or BPA), one of the chemicals that the Council, at my urging, supported phasing out in children's products, does indeed put people at greater risk for serious illness.



Perhaps this will be enough to convince Governor Pawlenty that these chemicals shouldn't be in pacifiers?



I will work to keep support for a BPA phaseout on the City's Legislative Agenda for 2009.

Bike Tunnel under 35W bridge

Back February 2008, when I learned that the new 35W bridge construction would cut off a pedestrian and bike connection, and after it was clear that this cost would not be covered by the state or feds, I successfully pushed for the Council to set aside up to $1.2 million in municipal state aid funds for a bike and pedestrian tunnel as part of the rebuilding the Interstate 35W Bridge.

As the new bridge is set to reopen, I recently learned that City staff worked with MnDOT and Flatiron-Masson Joint Venture staff to design the tunnel in very efficient, safe, and cost effective manner. The final agreement between MnDOT and the City estimates the tunnel will cost about $841,500, which is less than the City’s preliminary estimate of $900,000 and is well below the $1.2 million appropriated.

The tunnel will remain closed, however, as the City secures funding to build the remaining portions of the bike and pedestrian trail between Bridge 9 (east side) to 13thAve/2nd St (west side) which will directly link Downtown to the West Bank area, the Dinkytown area, the University of Minnesota, and other easterly destinations.

I am also hoping to see investments in lighting and other security features (like call boxes) to make sure this will be a safe and well used pathway for years to come.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Arsenic Cleanup

As you can read here, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided on their cleanup level for the South Minneapolis Arsenic Contamination site. They plan to remove soil from yards that have an arsenic level of 25 parts per million (ppm) or above to a depth of one foot, and removal of all deeper soil in yards that contain 95ppm or more. This amounts to 488 yards, including the 77 yards that were already slated for cleanup due to contamination above 95ppm.



The cleanup standard EPA has chosen is somewhat disappointing to me. I joined Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM) and others in calling for a lower cleanup standard. The literature on arsenic suggests that contamination in the range of 10ppm can be dangerous, especially for children, and the baseline arsenic content in Minneapolis soil is certainly no greater than 17.



Still, it is good that this cleanup will be proceeding. EPA believes the work will take about four years. At the time that it is completed, I would support repealing the tenant notification ordinance I moved through the Council in 2006.

ClustrMap

As you may have noticed, for the last year the Second Ward blog has been graced by a neat little tracker gizmo: the ClustrMap over there in the upper right corner. It places little red dots all over a world map, showing the locations of the more than fifteen thousand page views we've received since last September. It's been fascinating to watch the dots appear, especially in places far from Minneapolis.

To keep the map from becoming, as the ClustrMap folks put it, a "giant red smear," they have archived the past year's map here, and will soon replace it with a blank slate that we can watch fill up with dots again.

Wherever you're from, Minneapolis or Australia, thanks for reading - and please feel free to comment.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The future of neighborhood revitalization

There continues to be progress being made towards a neighborhood revitalization program in the future. Several important steps have been taken in the passed several weeks and I think there is room for hope and concern. As things progress we will get a better indication of what the future will look like and it will important for to identify areas where there is the potential for making improvements.



The NRP Framework for the Future work group has given its final report and, while many are worried and concerned about the future, I think it is important to note that we’ve made real progress towards ensuring a healthier future of our neighborhood organizations and a continued neighborhood revitalization program.




When I took office a future NRP program was a big priority for me. The fact that the funding for the current program will end in 2009 offered both concern and opportunity. The concern was that there would no longer be a




The most significant recommendations in the report include the creation of a new resident-controlled Neighborhood and Community Advisory Board, and a new Neighborhood and Community Relations Department under the City Coordinator. The report recommends that the City fund approximately $3 million per year to neighborhood organizations to support administrative work. There is also an emerging consensus, made possible by the Legislature’s decision to enable us to continue funding it into the future, that there will be additional discretionary funding for neighborhood priorities.







After a good public hearing with many people expressing concerns about the Framework for the Future the Council met this week as the "Committee of the Whole" and continued the discourse about the future of NRP. On of the more interesting documents to come forward is an alternative proposed by a group of residents know as "neighors4nrp." The proposal makes several concrete proposals that are certainly worth considering.




Today at the Committee of the Whole we moved both the matter of establishing the new department and creating the new board forward without recommendation. Council Member Colvin Roy, who has been working closely with me on this issue, made the motion about the department. When I made the motion to move the resolution establishing the board forward without recommendation I also took the time to present a substitute motion. I developed this my looking at the Framework report, the alternative and the 2007 Community Engagement Task Force report as well as our own Planning Commission. It is my sense for this level of importance the Planning Commission is the most comparable civic board available.

I am hoping that my substitute will generate some discussion both within City Hall and without. When the issue returns to us as a full City Council on the 26th of September I suspect that my strategy will be to introduce some, many or all of the proposed changes in the substitute in separate motions.

If you would like to see the full text of the substitute let me know or look here.

I do hope that you will consider reading it and letting me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Continued Concerns about RNC security

I continue to be disturbed by the emerging pattern of law enforcement intimidation of journalists covering the Republican National Convention, including the arrests of Amy Goodman, Nicole Salazar and Sharif Abdel Kouddous of the Democracy Now! news show, the photographer from the New York Post, other journalists and the confiscation of equipment from the Glass Bead Collective last week.

As someone who worked very hard throughout this year to see journalists, observers, protesters and law abiding by-standers as well protected as the delegates here to participate in RNC, many of the reports I have been reading and hearing about, as well as the images I have been seeing, are discouraging.

The incidents involving the targeting and harassment of observers and reporters shows a particularly troubling trend that is not consistent with my hopes of showing the world how our Cities value nonviolence, respect civic debate, and are committed to preserving free speech.

I believe that the health of our democracy depends of the ability of a free press to function and that it is the obligation of all of us to help protect that ability.

How ever we have gotten here -- the level of police and military we apparently need so one of our major political parties can meet to select its candidate for president saddens me. It is not the vision I have for our democracy.

During the last days of the convention I urge a focus on creating a secure atmosphere of nonviolence that will allow and encourage people to participate in political speech. While violence and property damage by protesters or others should not be tolerated and I hope all visitors and residents will refrain from violence and property damage, and that safety will not be used an excuse to limit a free press or stifle free speech.

I do acknowledge our police and other public employees for their hard work to prepare for this event, for their many instances of patience, flexibility and retraint, and hope that they will focus their future efforts on helping all residents and visitors to feel safe and welcome to express themselves, and all journalists (main stream or independent) to continue doing their Constitutionally-protected and vitally important work.

Statement on Recent Law Enforcement Actions

Statement on Recent Law Enforcement Actions Targeting Protest Organizers
from Minneapolis Council Members Cam Gordon and Elizabeth Glidden

On Friday August 29th, a large, peaceful Critical Mass bike ride occurred in Minneapolis where protesters, passersby and police conducted themselves in a civil and respectful way - a hopeful beginning to the Republican National Convention and related protest events, marches, and citizen journalism.

On Friday evening and Saturday morning, homes in Minneapolis and a place of assembly in St Paul were raided by law enforcement; residents were detained and property seized. These actions were initiated, to our knowledge, by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office. Although we do not have the information available to law enforcement, we are concerned that the level of force used during these raids does not appear to match the alleged threat posed. The seizure of the Earth Activist Training Permaculture Demonstration Bus (Permibus), young activists pulled over in their van at Lake and 11th Ave and detained by law enforcement with weapons drawn, and other reported events are actions that appear excessive and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their first amendment rights.

During the challenging days ahead we urge a focus on creating a secure atmosphere of nonviolence that will allow and encourage people to participate in political speech. While violence and property damage by protesters or others should not be tolerated, neither should there be a chilling effect on free speech. We have been contacted by many who are concerned that their home or meeting place may be at risk because they are on an email list, attended a workshop or meeting, or helped feed and house out-of-town activists. We thank our Minneapolis police and others for their hard work to prepare for this momentous event and know – as evidenced by the Critical Mass ride this past Friday – that they are well able to keep the peace and respect first amendment rights of nonviolent protesters.

Let's send the right message - with a focus on maintaining order and peace while creating a safe space for free speech and political expression. We encourage all residents and visitors to feel safe and welcome to express themselves and hope that everyone will show up on Labor Day at the State Capital to make their voices heard.

Cam Gordon
Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward
612 296-0579

Elizabeth Glidden
Minneapolis City Council Member, Eighth Ward
612 673-2208