A north metro city with fewer than 4,000 residents is considering a ban on residential protests despite no recent demonstrations.
"We did not have any protests in our city," said Centerville Mayor D. Love. "I personally feel it's a valuable tool just to keep our neighbors safe."
Love said city staff brought the measure to leadership for consideration. The four-member City Council will discuss the matter at a Wednesday meeting.
Centerville leaders are considering what is referred to as a "targeted picketing" ordinance, which the neighboring cities of Lino Lakes and Hugo recently passed. The measures followed an August demonstration outside the Hugo home of Bob Kroll, who is retiring at the end of the month as Minneapolis police union president.
That demonstration drew more than 100 Black Lives Matter protesters to the residential neighborhood, calling on Kroll and his wife, WCCO reporter Liz Collin, to be fired.
Love declined to comment on the protest. But he said it's likely that Centerville's ordinance would mirror those passed in Hugo and Lino Lakes.
"In the wake of this summer's civil unrest, our neighboring city of Hugo experienced some protests in residential neighborhoods. After these incidents, they enacted a 'targeted picketing' ordinance," Wednesday's meeting agenda reads, adding that council members intend "to discuss the merits and risks associated with adopting the same or similar ordinance."
Language from the Hugo ordinance states that targeted marching, standing or patrolling by one or more people that is directed at a particular residential building "causes emotional distress to the dwelling occupants" while also obstructing public rights of way.
Bans on targeted residential protests aren't new, and in the past have stemmed from high-profile demonstrations like what happened in Hugo.
In 1990, White Bear Township passed an ordinance after 20 protesters targeted the home of a former executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota. In 2009, Woodbury banned targeted picketing after the homes of 3M executives were picketed by animal welfare activists.
Mahtomedi, Shoreview and Maplewood also ban targeted residential picketing, and their ordinances use language similar to the bans in the north metro.
Lake Elmo is also considering an ordinance, which City Administrator Kristina Handt said will be on the Feb. 2 City Council agenda. Blaine spokesman Ben Hayle said the city attorney there is crafting an ordinance for council discussion and feedback.
On Wednesday, Love said the Centerville City Council will get a feel for whether the ordinance is "something that fits our community and something we actually want to move forward with." While he doesn't want to stop people from their right to protest, he said, "we don't want to have a dangerous situation within the neighborhoods."
"As a city leader, it's one of your jobs to be reactive to things going on around you, but to also have some future vision," he said.
Other than the Hugo protest, the closest protest to Centerville over the summer was a march in Circle Pines, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Centennial Lakes Police Department, a partnership between Centerville, Lexington and Circle Pines.
If the council decides to move forward with the ordinance after Wednesday's meeting, there will likely be a first reading at the next council meeting Feb. 10, before final approval Feb. 24.
Love, who was a council member for 12 years before becoming Centerville's first Black mayor when he was appointed in March, was re-elected in November.
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751