Minneapolis residents unloaded their concerns and hopes for the city on Mayor-elect Jacob Frey on Friday, raising an array of topics from housing to police relations.
Frey did not do much talking during what was billed as a “listening session” at Horn Tower public housing complex on 31st Street and Blaisdell Avenue. Speakers opined on everything from public housing security to the plans for Hennepin Avenue. Frey takes office on Tuesday.
“We’re ultimately going to help put this input into policy,” Frey said at the end of the event. “So this is where it all starts and you all are a part of it. Thank you.”
Maria Cisneros said the city should implement a municipal identification program. She said immigrants who do not have identification are afraid to call the police, or are unable to move out of substandard housing.
“We are taken advantage of because we don’t have an identification,” she said through an interpreter. City leaders have asked staff to study the issue and report back by March.
Police reform activist Dave Bicking decried the lack of public input in the city’s agreement to host the Super Bowl, as well as participation in a controversial federal program that targets the state’s Somali community with initiatives to combat violent extremism.
“This kind of stuff going on behind our backs has got to stop,” Bicking said. “I want to see the new mayor make sure that when these kind of proposals come up, that the city, the city government, and the people be involved.”
Fadumo Kassim wanted to ensure that the public housing complex had ample security staff around the clock. A security guard at Horn Tower was murdered two years ago.
“We have a security problem here in Minneapolis, especially [on] Blaisdell Avenue,” Kassim said.
Security was also on the mind of Sarah Kuhnen, who said the city should commit more money to police wellness and de-escalation training. Kuhnen was a neighbor of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was shot and killed by police this July after reporting an assault, and is a member of the group Justice for Justine. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman still has not decided whether to charge the officer who shot Damond.
“[Police] experience trauma on a daily basis and we want them supported better with wellness training that doesn’t just happen once — that happens annually and semiannually — along with de-escalation training,” Kuhnen said.
Adam Borgen, executive director of the Warehouse District Business Association, said the city should consider a “tip credit” — counting tips as part of an overall wage — in its implementation of a phased-in $15 minimum wage. He said this would expedite improved wages for back-of-the-house restaurant workers.
“I feel with a tip credit, the restaurant owners would be able to budget their money and be able to pay the back-of-the-house workers a higher wage at a faster rate,” Borgen said.
Friday’s session was overseen by the people heading Frey’s policy committee, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden and Abou Amara. Frey’s transition team has now held four such sessions. The new mayor plans to hold town halls in each ward of the city following his inauguration.