Washburn High School was placed on lockdown status and most after-school activities were canceled on Tuesday when a suspicious person showed up to inquire about the January doll-hanging incident.
Sgt. William Palmer said that an incident report said the man had a scarf over his face, and attempted to walk past school security personnel at a school entrance. The incident was reported at 10:38 a.m., but the man was gone when police arrived, Palmer said.
The school declared a code yellow alert, meaning that students were kept in classes without passes, doors were locked, and visitors were screened to allow only students and staff into the building.
The school canceled all after-school activities except for a basketball game, and students were asked to go directly home, according to a message the school sent to parents.
The visit followed an incident in which a small group of students were involved in the stringing up of a dark-skinned doll in a school stairway, and a larger group looked on before the school intervened. That incident sparked community indignation and an all-community meeting.
The Arthur Lee house in south Minneapolis, the site of one of the more horrific racial episodes in the annals of the city, may get national recognition.
A team of students at the University has done extensive research on an episode involving the reaction of white neighbors when the black family of Arthur and Edith Lee moved into the house at E.. 46th Street and Columbus Avenue S. in 1931. Now a nomination for the National Register of Historic Places is being prepared.
The Lees move into their house turned out a mob of several thousand whites for several nights running that forced the city to summon police for their protection. The Lees stuck out the situation for about a year before moving. That history was commemorated in the 2011 dedication of a marker in the yard of the modest frame house.
Greg Donofrio, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota, said his 36 students extended their research net well beyond the house and incident to try to capture the broader racial history of the area. Donofrio, who directs the heritage conservation and preservation program at the university, was contacted for research help by Stearline Rucker, president of the Field Regina Northrop Neighborhood Group.
Teams from the class looked into the history of the house and those who occupied it, but also looked more broadly at such themes as school integration, public life, home ownership and how the incident was covered in mainstream and black-owned newspapers. They inter viewed area elders about significant developments in the area’s racial relations.
With the support of Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and John Quincy, the neighborhood and Donofrio got a $4,200 state Legacy Fund grant through the Minnesota Historical Society to draft the nomination. Donofrio expects that draft by late spring.
“It’s really very exciting for us in the community,” Rucker said. She said that some of the research portrayed in displays by the students could be used in area schools.
Donofrio said that that although addition to the national register would bring recognition to the property and the events around it, another step would be to pursue local designation. That brings actual protections and restrictions on how the property may be altered.
The house’s elderly owner, Pearl Lindstrom, said she’s hoping the designations can be accomplished while she’s still kicking.
School district staffers couldn’t wait to vacate it, but the old district headquarters at 807 Broadway is getting big-time interest from developers.
Seven offers were received from developers for the property by Friday’s deadline, according to a joint announcement Monday by the district and the city’s development agency, which is helping the district with its sale plans. All are for housing and-or multi-tenant commercial space.
Proposals were made by : Domain Architecture and Design, condominiums and market-rate apartments with retail space; Dominium Development and Acquisition, for affordable apartments with live-work space; First & First, multi-tenant commercial space; Greco Development, market-rate apartments and multi-tenant commercial space; Hillcrest Development, multi-tenant commercial space; Kremer & Young, for multi-tenant commercial space; Sherman Associates, affordable apartments with live-work space.
The neighborhood will get a look at the proposals on March 20 at a 7 p.m. meeting at Logan Park Recreation Center, 690 13th Av. NE. That meeting is being run by the 807 Broadway Task Force, an neighborhood-based advisory group to the process.
The entire site consists of 5.8 acres, with about 240,000 square feet, some of which date to 1914, when the four-story administration building was originally built as a light-bulb factory. All of the offers include rehabilitating at least the two brick buildings in a complex that also includes shops for building trades, garages and warehouse space.
Many of the key details of the proposals, including price and amount of space created, are being kept under wraps despite the developers being required to waive their ability under state law to keep their proposals private until a deal is negotiated with the winning proposal. City development official Mark Garner said the school district hasn’t consented to release that information.
The city and district said the proposal that best combines price, terms, ability to consummate a sale and the planned redevelopment, and other objectives. The school board makes the final choice of developer.
The district vacated the property and its warren offices, which many employees regarded as a dump, last summer. It now occupies new headquarters at 1250 Broadway.
Star Tribune readers learned Friday about the travails of Gary Vang, the Patrick Henry High School junior who was set upon by two young men at a bus stop on his way home from school. He’s been suffering from a symptoms of a concussion since the Jan. 28 attack.
Vang got some good news Friday morning. His mother, Kia Thao, got a call saying the 16-year-old has been admitted to Hopkins High School, starting March 22, when that school’s fourth quarter begins.
That’s good news to Thao and Vang because it means he no longer needs to use his student pass to ride the Metro Transit bus to Henry. Vang was attacked at a bus stop on his way home from school.
Hopkins will provide school bus service to his new school. The loss of school bus service in Minneapolis has been opposed by some Hmong parents whose students attend Henry because they fear unprovoked attacks, such as groping of female students on buses or the beating Vang sustained.
Vang is the third of Thao’s children to be accepted to Hopkins under the Choice is Yours program, which allows low-income Minneapolis students to bus to suburban schools. Each student lost to the suburbs means thousands of dollars less in state aid for Minneapolis.
Thao said she hopes that the switch will mean her son is safer. She said another son, who will switch to Hopkins in the fall, worries daily about whether he’ll need to ride the bus or be able to get a ride from a family member.
Thao said she was told by a contact in the Hopkins district that normally it doesn’t admit students during the school year. Hopkins district officials didn’t return Star Tribune calls on why they admitted Vang.
Community organizer Jay Clark said the Minneapolis district rushed the introduction of Metro Transit service for Henry students. “By not listening and by not asking people their opinions first they set themselves up for this,” he said of the transfer.
Officer Mike Kirchen has always tried to cultivate a close relationship with the students at Lucy Craft Laney Community School, but his stock with them definitely rose after he was seated next to Barack Obama during the president’s visit last week.
Kirchen’s seat on the president’s right was captured in a Star Tribune photo that appeared the day after the North Side presidential visit.
Kirchen was included in the closed discussion of youth violence in large part because of his assignment as a school resource officer at Laney, or SRO. The 16 SROs stationed in Minneapolis schools are Minneapolis cops whose official purpose is to keep the school safe. But most of their time is spent cultivating relationships with students.
Or as Kirchen put it, ““I really wanted to get across that a really small part of our job is writing tickets and bringing kids down to juvenile.” He tries to let students know cops as something other than a siren-blaring presence racing down the streets of the North Side by building relationships with them. He’s a bike cop in the summer and checks in with some students at home to see how they’re faring.
The day before Obama arrived, Kirchen had been in the room in a police training facility in the former Hamilton school, and noticed his preferred seating spot. That dashed his hopes of keeping a low profile during the ensuing discussion of youth violence, where Minneapolis officials told Obama about strategies they’ve employed to cut youth violence by 40 percent.
Fortunately, Kirchen is used to spending time around elected officials after spending six years as Mayor R.T. Rybak’s bodyguard. The room consisted mostly of federal, state and local officials, and although there were also police brass there, Rybak put Kirchen at greater ease by pointing out that he was closer to the streets than anyone in the room. Kirchen described his work, and told Obama it should be replicated across the nation.
His appearance in a photo next to Obama caused a sensation at the school, where even students too young to correctly pronounce Obama’s name know who he is. So Kirchen is making the rounds of classrooms to talk about the experience. He said the kids, sometimes squirmy even when there’s a canine patrol dog visiting, are rapt. “The kids are captivated. They just listen. It’s just amazing,” he said.
Because he knew he’d be seated next to Obama, Kirchen brought a Sharpie pen and after the session broke up, asked the president to sign Kirchen’s name card with the White House insignia. That spawned several other requests, and Kirchen said Obama gave him a mock see-what-you’ve-started look. As Obama was turning to leave, Kirchen had one more request” “Mr. President, I need that pen back.”
Now it’s a souvenir for Kirchen’s three children, ages 12 to 16. Kirchen, 47, is a 21-year department veteran who has also done patrol in the Third Precinct, walked a downtown beat, and been on the SWAT team. But he’s well known for the bike work he does with other officers in the summer on the North Side, which includes giving out helmets, and even awarding bikes to kids he catches using those helmets. It's called Bike Cops for Kids.
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