What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Posts about Public safety

Minneapolis police investigate double homicide

Posted by: Updated: April 8, 2015 - 12:11 PM

By LIBOR JANY

Staff Writer

Minneapolis police were investigating a double homicide in north Minneapolis on Wednesday morning.

Police were canvassing the area of 46th and Penn avenues N. There was a secondary scene on the 4300 block of Oliver Avenue N.

Police responded to the first call around 10:04 a.m. When they arrived, police saw two suspects fleeing south. Officers caught one of the suspects and returned to find a tan SUV with two dead individuals inside.

Neighbor Delray Meanweather identified one of the victims as his brother, Odell Frazier.

Frazier is reportedly in his mid-40s and recently moved to Minneapolis from Chicago.

Frazier apparently had nine children and was a stay-at-home dad.

The Star Tribune is on the scene. Check back for updates.

Minneapolis considers new rental permit system

Posted by: Updated: April 7, 2015 - 6:32 PM

Jessica Jee

Star Tribune

Minneapolis city officials could soon stamp all rental properties with a new label based on their number of inspections, citations or police calls to give prospective tenants a better assessment of what they’re signing up for.

The rankings would reflect where landlords fall into a new tier system and determine property owners’ licensing fees based on their compliance with city standards. A proposal to establish the labeling system and hike some landlords’ fees is likely receive final approval in the coming months.

Minneapolis officials discussed the potential change at a committee meeting Tuesday, where some raised questions regarding the proposed system’s fairness on behalf of both tenants and landlords.

Councilmember Jacob Frey said it is important the change doesn’t negatively affect property owners who work hard to achieve a good ranking but manage tenants who drive up calls and citations for reasons beyond landlords’ control.

In addition to city inspections and other city-led assessments, the new labels will consider the amount of police incidents for drug offenses, prostitution, loud parties and violence.

Council members did not want to count incidents of domestic violence, fearing that tenants might feel pressured not to call police if they are the victim of abuse. The council also wants city staff to consider the makeup of the tenants of a building whe making the rankings for the property owner.

“How can we be sure that we’re not too hard on owners that are doing a really good job and are taking some [individuals who suffer from] mental illness or substance dependency or straight from homelessness," Frey said of well-meaning tenants who can result in more police calls. “I don’t want to discriminate against the individuals who are doing their work.”

Regulatory services chief Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said the city staff would assess those scenarios case-by-case to ensure they are making fair assessments.

“We are cognizant that when we touch rental that we, perhaps, touch particularly communities more than others,” she said. “We sit down with folks, and we look at the circumstances…and adjust as needed.”

Only about 3 to 4 percent of the city’s total properties would fall into the most problematic category, Rivera-Vandermyde said. But those properties, she said, require more staff resources because of their amount of inspections, and the higher fees can make up for those costs.

“There are bad apples in every bunch,” said City Council President Barb Johnson, who authored the change.

Under the current billing model, property owners pay a $69 licensing fee and then another $19 per additional unit. The change would raise that fee based on properties’ placement in the three-tier system, while lowering the per-unit price for owners of large complexes since those are typically in better compliance with city standards.

If a property owner would move to appeal his or her ranking, Rivera-Vandermyde said the department would do an internal review and move forward by using that assessment. And based on the city’s more than 17,000 rental properties with one to three units that already use a similar tiered system, she said, landlords haven’t brought forward any serious objections to the appeal process.

The change follows the city’s introduction of a new, data-driven method to push landlords into improving their properties. City housing staff started inspecting and rating Minneapolis’ more than 23,000 rental properties last year to formulate a list of the city’s worst rental properties that unless improved, cannot obtain new licenses.

If it receives final approval in the coming months, the tiered system will roll out this summer. City staff will add the labels to landlords’ licenses and properties, as well as make them available online.

“We really tried hard to be balanced and fair,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “We know this will impact people … We want to make sure property owners know that it rests on them, whatever tier they land on.”

Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

Man, 27, charged in March homicide near downtown Minneapolis parking ramp

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: April 6, 2015 - 1:25 PM

UPDATE: Authorities have charged Jermaine McMahon, 27, with second-degree murder in connection with the killing, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday. McMahon is being held without bond at the county jail.

ORIGINAL POST: Minneapolis police said Monday they have arrested a man in last month's shooting death of a 28-year-old man near a downtown Minneapolis parking ramp.

The victim, Justin Murry Williams, of Bloomington, was found in the early morning hours of March 27 after being shot several times, authorities said. Williams was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died.

A 27-year-old man was booked into the county jail Friday evening in connection with the shooting (The Star Tribune does not name suspects who have not charged).

Authorities say the victim was found by an off-duty police officer who heard shots fired around 6:30 a.m. in the area of the 10th Street Ramp.

No further details were immediately available.

Advocates gather for "People's State of the Union"

Posted by: Erin Golden Updated: April 3, 2015 - 11:46 AM

Members of the group Neighborhoods Organizing for Change gathered at Minneapolis City Hall on Friday to deliver a "People's State of the Union" speech focused on workers' rights and police reform.

Mike Griffin, a field organizer for the group, applauded the State of the City address given a day earlier by Mayor Betsy Hodges. He said the mayor's pledge to work for fair scheduling, better enforcement of how businesses pay overtime and broader access to paid sick days are in line with the agenda his organization developed for the city earlier this year.

A handful of speakers discussed their own experiences of working while sick or injured because they couldn't afford to take unpaid time off and grappling with unpredictable schedules that often came with very long shifts. 

Navell Gordon, the community organizer who gained attention last year after posing for a photo with Mayor Betsy Hodges -- in a story that came to be known as "pointergate" -- said he's been repeatedly stopped by police while near his job at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. He said he's been stopped over accusations of spitting on the sidewalk, an offense some council members are trying to get removed from the city code.

Council Members Cam Gordon, Alondra Cano and Lisa Bender stood with the group during its presentation. Gordon said repealing rules about spitting and lurking would go a long way toward preventing police from targeting minority groups.

Between 2009 and 2014, 59 percent of the people the Minneapolis Police Department arrested for lurking were black, while 24 percent were white. Meanwhile, 69 percent of the people who called to report lurking offenses were white, while 12 percent were black.

"I'm hoping that our effort to repeal these two little laws can help us have a deeper conversation about where else is this structural racism baked into our system," Gordon said. "And how can we actually, and finally, dismantle the new Jim Crow that's plaguing our city."

The ordinances are scheduled for a public hearing May 6.

Minneapolis police investigating video of officer threatening to break suspect's legs

Posted by: Libor Jany Updated: April 2, 2015 - 7:47 PM

An internal affairs investigation has been launched into a profanity-laced video that appears to show a local police officer threatening to break the legs of a suspect if he attempted to escape.

The incident, which allegedly happened sometime last month in south Minneapolis, was recorded on a camera phone by one of the young men being arrested. The footage was later posted to Twitter by @StIllA_Hitta and has been retweeted nearly 250 times.

In the video, the unidentified officer can be heard telling the suspect: "Plain and simple, if you (expletive) with me, I'm gonna break your legs before you get a chance to run."

It was not immediately clear what led to the arrest, but at one point the youth is heard asking the officer why he was being taken into custody, to which the policeman responds: “Because I feel like arresting you.”

The officer's face remains obscured throughout the 30-second video.

Department spokesman John Elder said Thursday that internal affairs investigators were probing the incident, but cautioned against making assumptions about the case before the facts are known.

“The video is currently under investigation and we are unable to comment on the content of the video,” Elder said in an emailed statement. “MPD values our connection to the community and we strive to build public trust. This is why complaints against officers are taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent. We will make information available to the public as soon as legally possible.”

Police union officials and the Twitter user who originally posted the video didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The video, which contains vulgar language, can be found here.

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