The St. Anthony City Council made it official at its meeting Tuesday night: After Dec. 31, the city's police department will no longer patrol Falcon Heights.
The policing contract that has been in effect between the two cities had an opt-out clause that either city could invoke by July 15. St. Anthony still must provide written notification to Falcon Heights, but a resolution, which passed unanimously and with no discussion Tuesday, formalized the contract termination, which otherwise would have not have expired until 2019.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on Monday signed a separation agreement with the city of St. Anthony, agreeing to leave the Police Department in exchange for $48,500 after being acquitted three weeks ago in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile last July.
Falcon Heights must find new policing services by Jan. 1.
In a separate move on Tuesday night, about 60 people — former residents of the Lowry Grove mobile home park, members of St. Anthony Villagers for Community Action and supporters — marched from the park to the council meeting to have their say.
Two marchers carried a cardboard coffin with "RIP Lowry Grove 1946-2017" painted on side and "RIP Philando Castile 1983-2016" on the other.
Their dispute dates to the June 2016 sale of the mobile home park to a development company. Angry residents said the city promised to help about 100 families and individuals find other housing within the city, but did nothing. The last residents moved out June 30.
"They picked the wrong people to dance with, and not just me," Bill McConnell, a 31-year resident of Lowry Grove, said at the march.
St. Anthony Villagers and community activists packed a June 27 council meeting and called for the resignation on Mayor Jerry Faust and Police Chief Jon Mangseth, among others, to resign over both the Castile shooting and forced evictions at Lowry Grove.
Tuesday night's meeting was standing-room-only once the marchers arrived at 7 p.m. It became raucous when the crowd began shouting repeatedly, "Faust out now!"
In response to the shouting, Faust adjourned the meeting at 7:10 p.m. The crowd's reaction grew louder and the mayor and council agreed to hear the residents.
Antonia Alvarez, former president of the Lowry Grove Residents Association, said she was homeless.
"We need a true response from you about the plan at Lowry Grove," she said. "I want justice from you. I want affordable housing for the people. It's not fair that many of us are homeless."
Faust said the buyer, Continental Property Group, has not yet submitted any paperwork.
"We've always said we want affordable housing," he said. "We haven't received any numbers yet."
After he was confronted by a dozen or more speakers, the mayor said he was committed to having affordable housing in St. Anthony but he refused to quantify the number, or what constitutes "affordable."
Eva Grooms told the council about her volunteer work with the schools, the community and now with the St. Anthony Villagers. She presented city manager Mark Casey with a list of demands and a petition signed by 500 people.
They include replacing the amount of affordable housing lost as a result of the park's sale, giving priority to displaced Lowry Grove residents and holding meetings between city leaders and Lowry Grove residents.
On the policing front, the Villagers want community involvement in hiring a new police chief, citizen oversight of police, mandatory de-escalation and implicit bias training and prohibiting "Bulletproof Warrior" — a training that Yanez attended before Castile's death. They also want "openness and transparency throughout" the U.S. Justice Department's in-progress review of the Police Department.
Mangseth spoke at the request of the mayor, saying only four or five officers have attended the combat-style training and that no other officers will take it. He said officers recently had two hours of training on dealing with mental-health crises and will have training on procedural justice this fall or winter.
Only one dissenter took his turn at the podium. Jim Roth, a former City Council member, told city officials, "I think you guys are doing a great job."
Turning to the crowd, Roth said: "You guys are pitiful, all of you."
It did not go over well with the audience, but the mayor offered a more conciliatory tone: "I know it's hard not to get emotional," Faust said. "I'm telling you we need to be civil to each other."
Meanwhile, Falcon Heights is scrambling to find law enforcement services. The city is negotiating with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office to provide patrol deputies, but it could be 10 months before deputies are up to full speed, city administrator Sack Thongvanh said Tuesday.
Falcon Heights will most likely join the list of seven other cities patrolled by the Sheriff's Office. But it does not share a border with those cities, making potential service more costly and response times potentially longer.