Mayor Betsy Hodges on Monday laid out a dark vision of the Trump era, arguing that Minneapolis and all cities are the first line of defense against a president who is “uniquely pernicious.”
Speaking in south Minneapolis, Hodges said Muslims, immigrants, Jews, transgender and gay people, journalists, artists and the poor all are under assault, and she committed the city of Minneapolis to protect those groups.
“I have said repeatedly that if Donald Trump is coming after our immigrant community, he’s going to have to get through me first, through all the rest of Minneapolis first,” Hodges said, adding later that “if Trump somehow starts a registry of Muslims, I will be the first to sign up, and I ask all of you to join me.”
With city elections coming in November, Hodges has positioned herself as a vocal opponent of the Trump administration for months, and has been laying out a general framework of the city as a crucial place for citizens to resist the federal government.
Hodges faces several challengers in her battle to win a second term, including Nekima Levy-Pounds, Raymond Dehn, Aswar Rahman, Tom Hoch and Jacob Frey.
The mayor said Minneapolis will remain “a beacon of unity in a time of deliberate division.” She pledged to uphold the Minneapolis separation ordinance, which forbids local police from enforcing immigration law. She touted the city’s $35,000 in funding to “meet urgent needs” for immigrants to get information and said she will ask the City Council to spend another $15,000 on those services.
She noted ongoing city investments in the transgender community and Somali-American police officers, and characterized the city’s paid sick leave ordinance and potential municipal wage hike as efforts to hold off the negative effects of a Trump presidency on people of color and women.
The speech, which Hodges delivered to a crowd of 90 at the Shir Tikvah Congregation synagogue in south Minneapolis, echoed her campaign announcement in December, when she mentioned the new president six times.
Her opponents were not impressed with Hodges’ speech, arguing that the focus on Trump is a distraction from more pressing needs in Minneapolis.
“Trump’s actions in Washington are obviously a concern, however he’s not the greatest threat to the future vitality of our city,” said Levy-Pounds, a lawyer and civil rights activist running against Hodges. “We still have myriad racial disparities in our city, and those were present before Trump.”
Tom Hoch, the former head of the Hennepin Theatre Trust, said he is no fan of Trump, but “railing against an unpopular president was not a viable strategy to move our city forward in December and it still isn’t in April.”
Minneapolis needs “a mayor who can figure out how to make life better for all of our residents even in the most challenging of times by focusing on jobs, affordable housing and safe neighborhoods for all,” Hoch said.