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Park Board scheduled to act on decorum rules

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s attempt to rein in disruptions that have interrupted board business repeatedly at its recent meetings comes up for final approval on Wednesday.

The proposed rule on decorum sets as a goal that “meetings are conducted in a way that is open to all viewpoints, yet free from abusive, distracting or intimidating behavior.” Those who violate the rules would be asked to stop, warned and then may be removed by police and subject to arrest for disorderly conduct.

What would be banned?   

--· Speaking out of turn or making remarks when not recognized by the park commissioner running the meeting.

--· Shouting, chanting, disruptive behavior, clapping, stamping of feet, whistles, use of a bull horn and similar demonstrations.

--· Defamation, intimidation, personal insults, profanity, or threats of violence, or any other disruptive behavior.

Signs and banners would be limited to the back of the boardroom.

The proposal by Commissioner John Erwin also would set new limits on speakers. Anyone using “foul, abusive or inappropriate”language will be cut off during the board’s public comment time.

Speakers previously were barred from discussing pending lawsuits or personnel issues. Despite that,  speakers were not cut off from disparaging Superintendent Jayne Miller or some other administrators, or complaining about discipline imposed on the speaker.

"We are here to do a job and we need to go about our business and it has been curtailed of late," said Commissioner Meg Forney, speaking for the proposal. But Commissioner Brad Bourn argued that some limits were overly broad.

Commissioner Scott Vreeland urged that the board act on the proposal early in its meeting Wednesday to give board President Anita Tabb more solid legal footing for any steps she needs to control the meeting. But that could mean the board would adopt them before the public had a chance to comment on them before the normal public comment period at 5:30 p.m.

“That’s a perfect example of what we’ve been experiencing,” said Raeisha Williams, an NAACP member. “It tells us blatantly that they don’t want to hear what we’re saying.”

Williams is one of four people who said they were NAACP members who were ticketed by police at the Sept. 7 board meeting. The others, all of whom appeared at a news conference the following day, were Rosemary Nevins, Emily Flower and Davina Newman. All but Newman were ticketed for disorderly conduct, and Newman was ticket for obstruction.

Those speaking in the 40-minute parade of news conference speakers called on the Park Board to apologize, drop any charges, and fire Miller. Some have been attending board meetings for months to allege discriminatory treatment for people of color in hiring, promotions and discipline. They allege that NAACP members were targeted among those who were ejected from the Sept. 7 meeting.

The removals and ticketing followed a flare-up at the meeting over whether Tabb was starting the board’s comment period on time. But they come against a backdrop over the past several months of protesters chanting or interrupting meetings with comments.

Police department recognizes 9 new commanders, supervisors

Among the nine Minneapolis police commanders to be recognized during Monday’s promotion ceremony were a training supervisor with stints in the foreign service, SWAT and robbery units, and a 6-year veteran who last worked patrol in the Third Precinct.

Chief Janeé Harteau praised the recently minted sergeants, lieutenants, commanders and inspector for their commitment to the profession and advised them to be “authentic in the way that you (interact) with other people.” She also reminded them that they will inherit greater responsibility.

“Remember, rank and leadership are not synonymous,” she told a roomful of officers, politicians and family members gathered at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Church in south Minneapolis.

Harteau said that some of the criticism heaped on law enforcement in recent years is intended to be “divisive and create an environment of unrest,” while adding that “we must acknowledge that (as a police department) we can and must get better.”

Harteau later introduced Insp. Catherine Johnson, who in July was given command of the Third Precinct in south Minneapolis. Johnson comes with a criminal investigative background, having most recently commanded the Special Crimes Investigations Division (SCID) and, before that, the violent crimes investigations division, which includes the homicide unit.

As she posed for a photo with Johnson and assistant chief Kris Arneson, the chief quipped that the moment served as “a poster for women in leadership, it’s a recruitment poster.”

Sgt. Deanna Rivard said after the ceremony that the promotions were symbolic of the gains that women had made in law enforcement, but that she sees herself as a “policeman first.” Rivard, who joined the department in 2006, said that she was relieved to have been promoted to patrol supervisor on the Third Precinct’s night shift, a position that would still allow her to “interact with the officers and with the streets.”

Most of the promotions were made over the past year, but only announced this week.

The others were:

  • Sgt. Charles Greaves, who joined the force in 1996 and is currently working the night shift in the Third Precinct.
  • Sgt. Joseph R. Will, a 22-year veteran who works as an investigator in the traffic unit.
  • Sgt. Lucas Peterson, who works in the Second Precinct’s investigations unit; Peterson made headlines in 2013 for his involvement in the shooting death of 22-year-old Terrance Franklin, for which he was later cleared.
  • Lt. Billy Peterson (not related), a training supervisor who joined the department in 1995, working nine years in the Third Precinct, along with stops in the foreign service, SWAT and robbery units.
  • Lt. Christopher House, a one-time investigator in the gang and weapons units, who is a lieutenant on the day shift in the First Precinct.
  • Cmdr. Melissa Chiodo, former head of the sex crimes unit, who recently took over SCID. Chiodo, after stops in four of the five precincts and a five-year stint in Internal Affairs.
  • Cmdr. Erick Fors, who runs the Violent Crimes Investigations Division, which oversees the robbery, family violence, sex crimes and forgery/fraud units, after working in juvenile crimes and homicide, among other units.