In what could be the first showdown with city officials leading up to the Super Bowl, a dozen community activists gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall on Friday to demand action on police violence and other concerns they believe are being “swept under the rug” during the buildup to the game.
“It’s not right to whitewash Minnesota for all of those rich out-of-town visitors with their $4,000 tickets,” while ignoring the needs of the area’s homeless and working poor, said Loretta VanPelt, an organizer with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.
The group, which organized near-weekly protests at the Hennepin County Government Center across the street in protest of the decision not to charge two city police officers with the shooting death of Jamar Clark, was one of several who staged a brief news conference in Friday morning’s cold drizzle.
“A week of protests and resistance,” VanPelt said, is what people can expect.
Organizers said they want city officials to invest more in the community, instead of pouring millions of dollars into security for the game.
“Nothing has been done to stop police violence in our communities,” VanPelt said.
A spokeswoman for the city said Friday afternoon that the city will be reimbursed for security costs related to the Super Bowl by the state’s Host Committee.
Another speaker, Mari Mansfield, of Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, said activists will not rest until the needs of the city’s most disenfranchised residents are addressed.
“Would you trade places with a black man who lives in this city, if only for one day?” she said.
Without making specific demands, organizers said they are setting their sights on other issues as well, pointing to a recent announcement that dozens of homeless and transient people will be moved from a church near U.S. Bank Stadium to a makeshift shelter nearby during Super Bowl week.
Officials have cited security to justify the move.