Brooklyn Park hosts Liberian dignitary

  • Article by: MARIA ELENA BACA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 4, 2012 - 4:30 PM

Vice president makes his first official visit since Brooklyn Park agreed to a sister-city relationship with Kakata, Liberia.

Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai arrived in Brooklyn Park on Monday on a visit to solidify the West African country's bond with the north metro city that is home to as many as 7,000 Liberians.

This is Boakai's third official visit, but the first since the Brooklyn Park City Council voted last month to approve a resolution creating a sister-city relationship with Kakata, an inland regional commercial center.

Boakai was scheduled to meet with Minnesota Liberians and to work with officials at area community and technical colleges to garner support for the Booker Washington Institute in Margibi, Liberia.

He also was to reach out to leaders in Brooklyn Center, which is considering a sister-city relationship with Marshall City, a coastal city southeast of the capital of Monrovia. Today, Boakai was to meet with fire and police officials to discuss support for the Liberian national police and fire departments.

The Rev. Alexander Collins led the planning committee that brought Boakai to Brooklyn Park.

"The gap between Liberia and the cities of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center is really reduced by Brooklyn Park's willingness to reach beyond the community here, to go to Liberia," Collins said. "The vice president's trip here is to cement that sense of inclusiveness."

Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde, who visited Kakata in March, said the benefits go both ways as political leaders from both countries can share experience and expertise in navigating the American system and Liberian culture.

The relationship, the mayor said, also has helped to raise the city's profile internationally, as other cities look to Brooklyn Park's experience in integrating a large Liberian community.

Maria Elena Baca • 612-673-4409

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