Opinion editor's note: Editorials represent the opinions of the Star Tribune Editorial Board, which operates independently from the newsroom.


There was a moment during the Monday meeting of the Minneapolis City Council when that body's tendency to remain at rest, averting any impulse toward forward motion, became downright stupefying. Actually, there were several such moments, as members of the council — meeting as a Committee of the Whole — pondered a sensible plan to reuse the former Third Precinct police station at Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue.

That plan, formulated by city staff after the council's decision to no longer use the fire-damaged location as a police facility, would turn the building into a 34,000-square-foot Elections and Voter Services facility. About a quarter of that space would be made available for community use. The plan isn't illogical or morally deficient, and it would help the city house a legitimate public-service division. Voter services is now located in a rental property whose lease will soon expire. There was no reason to expect that the reuse plan would generate controversy.

No reason, that is, other than the involvement of members of the City Council. Some of them seemed determined to preserve, even nurture, the pain that wracked Minneapolis in the days and weeks that followed the murder of George Floyd in 2020. As no one who lived here at the time is likely to forget, the Third Precinct building was burned during the riots that convulsed that part of the city. Those tragic days and nights are a permanent part of the city's history and memory.

So it was unhelpful for Council President Elliott Payne to pose this question to Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the city's operations officer, who was gamely taking questions on the proposal for reusing the precinct building: "How did you feel when George Floyd was murdered? Where were you? How did that feel to you?"

Her voice choked with emotion, Anderson Kelliher replied, "I've been a resident of this city for 33 years. I felt horrible. … I cried. I know you cried. … I could have refused to answer that question right now, but I will tell you it deeply, deeply hurt."

She went on to point out that ensuring every Minneapolis resident's access to the ballot was an appropriate response to the events of 2020. "That's empowerment," she said.

Payne said some people, presumably city staff, are talking about square footage; others, presumably council members and their constituents, are talking about broken hearts. There has yet to be a meaningful conversation, he said, about the pain that people in the community feel.

Council Member Jamal Osman agreed with the call for more community engagement, and added: "Let's start from scratch. Let's ask them what they want to do. Let's not have a predetermined plan at all."

There is always room for civic discussion, and there is plenty of it yet to come if the city proceeds with a truth and reconciliation process, as some on the council are advocating. But it is time — well past time, in fact — to resolve the fate of the building at 3000 Minnehaha Avenue.

Even the razor wire atop the fence has grown rusty. It is, as Council Member LaTrisha Vetaw characterized it, an eyesore. We agree with Anderson Kelliher that supporting the election process — that is, helping to give people a voice in the conduct of public affairs — is a worthy function that helps repudiate the excesses of Derek Chauvin and his ilk.

Anderson Kelliher said she and her colleagues are engaged with the process of determining the memorial or memorials that one day will rise at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. That location, the place where Floyd breathed his last breath under Chauvin's knee, strikes us as the preferable place to honor the memory of Floyd and the reckoning his death inspired.

And if a truth and reconciliation process comes to pass, we hope it will make use of the community space envisioned for the ground floor of the new Elections and Voter Services facility.