Staff Directory 6370509

Miguel Otárola

Reporter | Minneapolis City Hall
Phone: 612-673-4753

Miguel Otárola is a reporter covering Minneapolis City Hall for the Star Tribune. He previously covered Minneapolis' western suburbs and breaking news. He also writes about immigration and music on occasion.

Otárola moved to Minneapolis in 2016. Born in Chile and raised in Arizona, he graduated with a master's in communication from Arizona State University. He is obsessed with music, listening to and reading about music from across the spectrum, digging at local record stores and writing a music newsletter. He is the proud caretaker of a black cat named James Blake.
Recent content from Miguel Otárola
Allen Touche, 48, walked near Franklin Ave. recently during his weekly Saturday journey to help feed homeless Natives and others in Minneapolis.

Once homeless, this man strives to live in place he helped build

Homelessness in Minneapolis was perhaps never as visible as it was this year. For Allen Touche, an apartment represents something he hasn't had most of his adult life: stability.

Once homeless, a Minneapolis man now strives to live in the place he helped build

Homelessness in Minneapolis was perhaps never as visible as it was this year. For Allen Touche, an apartment represents something he hasn't had most of his adult life: stability.
Brandon O'Neil Abrams, 31, left, and Brandon Harrison, 35, walked through Logan Park where they were both living in tents in October. Three encampment

Despite cold and pleas, homeless camps persist in 3 Mpls. parks

Encampments remained in at least three parks in Minneapolis last week, despite the Park Board's repeated intentions to disband them. Offers of shelter have been refused, and Park Board officials worry about hazards as winter sets in.
Washington Avenue in Minneapolis.

Young and social North Loop sees rapid rise in COVID cases

The Minneapolis neighborhood has the city's third highest growth rate in new coronavirus cases, which tracks with the large number of young adults who live there and were more likely to socialize and dine out.
A family crossed Chicago Avenue as a Minneapolis Police officer lifted tape at a crime scene on July 23. Minneapolis residents are still torn over whe

Minneapolis residents still split on police as council considers budget for next year

At public hearing on budget, some call for funding cut, others want more officers.
Protesters and homeless advocates turned a community library building on its side to try to salvage it after people living in Powderhorn Park in Minne

Clearing of Minneapolis homeless camps may continue, judge rules

In response to a lawsuit by 7 homeless people, the ruling notes that camps are cleared only if shelter is available and if camps pose risks.
One of the designs proposed for the outdoor performance venue at the Upper Harbor Terminal site in north Minneapolis.

Concert venue on Minneapolis' North Side riverfront gets $12.5M boost from state

Jamal Osman, who was elected to the Minneapolis City Council in a contested special election, stood in front of City Hall, Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Jamal Osman, Minneapolis' newest council member, seeks to move past turbulent start

Osman won a special election in August that was quickly dragged into national politics.
A Minneapolis Parks police officer sprays mace after protestors and homeless advocates blocked the path of a police cruiser attempting to evacuate the

Lawsuit seeks end to clearing of homeless encampments in Minneapolis

Plaintiffs say Minneapolis, county violated rights.
Voters stood in a cold wind Friday to cast their early ballots at the Elections & Voter Services offices in Minneapolis.

Twin Cities voters flock to early voting centers in huge numbers

The votes accepted to date have surpassed the total number of early voters in the 2016 presidential election by more than 234,600, according to the secretary of state.
Brandon Harrison, 35, celebrated his birthday at a homeless encampment in Logan Park with his girlfriend Nichol Wyandt , 43, Wednesday in Minneapolis.

After summer in Minneapolis parks, homeless seek other spaces for winter

As tents come down at one Northeast park, a hotel and a church are getting ready.
Minneapolis Park Police Sgt. Adam Swierczek showing park commissioners the now abandoned uniform design.

Mpls. Park Board abandons plan to change park police uniforms to green

The board had requested changing to green uniforms to separate park police from the Minneapolis Police Department.
MAD DADS outreach workers Marko Counters, Kay Jones and Ken Bryant mingled with people Friday amid boarded-up buildings on Nicollet Mall.

Police, cameras on Nicollet Mall help fight 'challenging behavior'

Business leaders and police hope new efforts will help rein in bad behavior and intoxication in desolate downtown. "The hope is to calm things down on Nicollet and restore a sense of confidence," Steve Cramer says.
Bill Savran

Bill Savran, Savran's Paperback Shop owner, dies at 84

Todd Gallagher prepared mail-in ballot envelopes including an "I voted" sticker in Minneapolis in July.

Trump seizes on conservative group's claim of fraud in Minneapolis election

Looking at "harvesting" allegation in council election would fall to MPD, Hennepin County.
Sabina Rogers, who lost her job at the start of the pandemic, has devoted her time to organizing food distribution through the F12 People's Kitchen.

Months after riots, volunteers seek changes to help homeless

Those who identify with the Sanctuary Movement are calling on the state to stop clearing encampments and use COVID funding to house more people in hotels during the winter.
Jolene Johnson, seen Sept. 10, is frustrated that her homeowners association is forcing her to remove large sections of her garden, a garden she plant

Fines, fees, fear: Mpls. neighbors decry 'harassing' homeowners association

The Heritage Park homeowners association has filed liens and foreclosure actions on homeowners who fail to pay fees and other costs on time, even during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Minneapolis Police Third Precinct station was evacuated and destroyed on May 28, 2020, after George Floyd's death in police custody.

Mpls. council members object to relocating Third Precinct station to nearby warehouse

The council was set to vote on the lease last month but allowed more time to gather public opinion.
Marcia Howard jumped double dutch jump rope with Silas Yechout, 10, during a community dinner at the George Floyd memorial at 38th and Chicago in Minn

Mpls. officials, community members at impasse over reopening 38th and Chicago

The people who occupy the space say the city needs to agree on their calls for this struggling area of south Minneapolis.

Hiawatha Av. homeless camp returns, bringing a call to action

The Wall of Forgotten Natives had grown to several hundred occupants before it was disbanded two years ago. Now more than 40 tents have reappeared.

One dead, two injured in Brooklyn Park shooting, police say

This is the second shooting reported in the Minneapolis suburb in two days.

One dead, one injured in shooting in rural Long Prairie, Minn., officials say

Authorities believe the shooting was related to a drug transaction.
Hien Bui, an EMT with M Health Fairview and registered nurse, administered a COVID-19 test during a free testing event at New Salem Baptist Church in

934 more COVID-19 confirmed cases, 2 more deaths in Minnesota

There are now a total of 75,189 coronavirus cases confirmed by the state.
Park Board Commissioner Londel French has been spending a lot of time at Powder Horn making sure that the encampment is a safe environment for the hom

Despite outcry, Londel French still sees parks as a refuge for homeless

Commissioner says it was right to offer them a refuge in Minneapolis parks.
Despite criticism of the Minneapolis Police Department, most Minneapolis residents in a recent poll continued to support Chief Medaria Arradondo, who

Minnesota Poll: 2 in 3 voters in Minneapolis view police unfavorably

A majority of Minneapolis residents are critical of the Minneapolis Police Department months after the killing of George Floyd, but police Chief Medaria Arradondo remains popular, according to a new Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll.
Emma Torzs, a volunteer with Anam Cara, lifted a box of supplies into the back of a pickup after helping distribute supplies, like food, tents and sle

Minneapolis Park Board clears more homeless encampments in local parks

The encampments at Kenwood Park, Elliot Park and Peavey Park had "significant crime and safety incidents," the Park Board said.
Nine of eleven candidates for the Minneapolis City Council seat representing the Sixth Ward appear at a virtual forum hosted by the Seward Neighborhoo

Jamal Osman leading in crowded special election for Minneapolis City Council

The winner will fill a seat empty since April, when Abdi Warsame left the council to lead the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority.
A prayer circle at 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, the intersection where George Floyd was killed. Plans to reopen the area are begi

Minneapolis to partially reopen 38th & Chicago starting Aug. 17

The intersection where George Floyd was killed became the site of demonstrations and memorials.
In June, Council Member Alondra Cano spoke during "The Path Forward" meeting at Powderhorn Park. The focus of the meeting was the defunding of the Min

Mpls. charter panel blocks plan to remake police from ballot

The Minneapolis Charter Commission voted 10-5 to take an additional 90 days to study the measure.
Cup Foods worker Billy Abumayyaleh, right, brother to owner Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, was confronted by an activist on Monday, Aug. 3. He was trying to cle

Protesters gather as Cup Foods reopens 2 months after Floyd's death

Dozens of protesters gathered in front of the store at the intersection of 38th and Chicago on Monday afternoon demanding it remain closed.
Former City Council Member Abdi Warsame resigned to lead the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority this spring.

Crowded field vies for open Ward 6 seat on Minneapolis City Council

Eleven candidates are running to join a council facing police reforms, a major budget shortfall, a homelessness crisis and more.
Tony Jaros River Garden owner Dan Jaros poured a "Greeney," the establishment's signature drink, Wednesday night. ] Min

Frey orders new restrictions to reduce crowding at Mpls. bars

Bars can remain open, but indoors, only table service will be allowed. The regulation applies to taprooms, distilleries and nightclubs as well.
Andrea Brennan, Director of Housing Policy and Development for the City of Minneapolis, spoke at the briefing while sign language interpreter Albert W

Minneapolis, Hennepin County to fund three new shelters, emergency housing for homeless

One built for Native Americans could open by the end of the year.
Park Board clears one of two Powderhorn homeless camps

Park Board clears one of two Powderhorn homeless camps

About 20 people were arrested as one of two sites in Powderhorn Park was shut down.
The 10k March for a "Free North" began outside US Bank Stadium, marching over the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, on Saturday, June 13, 2020 in Minneapolis, M

Minneapolis City Council declares racism a public health emergency

The declaration comes on the heels of a similar move by Hennepin County last month.
The number of tents in Minneapolis' Powderhorn Park — photographed Tuesday — has shrunk from 560 tents last week to 310.

Mpls. Park Board votes to reduce size of homeless encampments

The unanimous vote came after an hour-plus of public comment in which dozens of residents protested against the homeless encampments, which they said have become the site of constant drug use, violence and other illicit behavior.
The Minneapolis police Third Precinct station, which was overrun by protesters and set ablaze in the unrest after the killing of George Floyd while in

Rebuild of 3rd Precinct HQ to cost $10 million, estimate says

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz says he plans to appeal the federal agency's denial of his request for disaster aid.

Park Board overstated homeless camped out in Powderhorn

Powderhorn survey finds 282 campers, well below the Park Board's estimate.
Pastor Curtis Farrar leading Bible study in 2020 at his Worldwide Outreach for Christ church at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis.

After George Floyd's death: Who does 38th and Chicago belong to?

The question comes as South Side residents begin to brainstorm what they hope will become a permanent memorial while considering the area's past and future.
Jon, who declined to give his last name, watched a YouTube video on his phone to pass the time Wednesday afternoon in the encampment at Lyndale Farmst

Minneapolis Park Board narrowly votes down plan to restrict encampments

Small encampments have shown up in about 35 park locations, including one in front of the superintendent's home at Lyndale Farmstead Park.
In a resolution passed Wednesday night, the Park Board's commissioners said they were "committed to providing people currently experiencing homelessne

Minneapolis Park Board leaders to homeless: You can stay

The Park Board's pledge was a response to growing camps in Powderhorn Park.
Minneapolis residents used garden hoses and buckets to save homes May 27 after rioters set fire to a housing complex under construction near the Third

Minneapolis firefighters blast city's response to fires, unrest

They want to know why more firefighters or other cities weren't called in to help.
Broom-wielding volunteers walked up and down E. Lake Street, helping with clean-up, June 3.

In wake of 'multiple crises,' Minneapolis officials vow better communication

Mark Ruff, the city coordinator, vowed to restore trust with the public.
Keke Caston used a shopping cart to evacuate from the Sheraton shelter off Lake Street Tuesday. "We have nowhere to go," she said. "We're going to hav

Homeless evicted from former Mpls. hotel after drug overdose

The sudden evacuation marks the second time in recent weeks that large numbers of homeless people have been forced to leave a temporary site.
Thousands of protesters marched to Mayor Jacob Frey's house in northeast Minneapolis on Saturday, June 6, to demand the city defund the Police Departm

Movement to defund police sees Mpls. as proving ground

They may differ on what it means to dismantle or defund the police. But the idea has gained momentum across the country, with activists asking people to redefine public safety without armed, uniformed officers of the law.
Abu Bakr, now a resident at the hotel, made a call in the lobby Wednesday afternoon. He was living in his car before last week's unrest, but his car w

Volunteers turned former Sheraton Hotel in Minneapolis into sanctuary for homeless

The hotel is now a 24/7 operation housing more than 200 homeless residents.
Minneapolis Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto and then-interim Superintendent Mary Merrill in July 2018.

Park Board votes unanimously to end working with police in Minneapolis

It was the latest partner to pull out of relationships with the embattled department, joining the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, museums and a host of other venues.
People continued to flock to the scene of Cup Foods in south Minneapols to pay their respects to George Floyd and to clean the area Sunday.

'Fire, fire, fire': Night of terror in Minneapolis as calls to 911 don't deliver help

Neighborhoods around Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue became a focal point as groups of protesters converged on the Fifth Precinct station.
Minneapolis firefighters doused a large fire that torched a pawnshop early Friday morning just south of the Cedar-Riverside intersection.

Latest: Firefighters rush to contain blaze at Cedar-Riverside pawnshop

More businesses vandalized, looted overnight in wake of George Floyd death during arrest.
Mpls. small-business owners pick up pieces after night of destruction

Mpls. small-business owners pick up pieces after night of destruction

"COVID didn't close me, but this is going to close me," says one shop owner.
Hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists spent the afternoon at Bde Maka Ska Wednesday. ] Minneapolis' parks have become a

Minneapolis back on top in ranking of best parks system; St. Paul is No. 3

The annual ranking by the Trust for Public Land restored Minneapolis' bragging rights.
Lyndale Avenue was full bikes and people during Open Streets in June 2018.

Open Streets Minneapolis events canceled in June and July

Organizers are considering rescheduling some of those events for October.
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) workers install new placards changing East and West Lake Calhoun Parkways to East and West Bde Maka Ska P

Bde Maka Ska name stays, Minnesota Supreme Court says

The ruling that the Minnesota DNR has the authority to rename the lake caps a yearslong dispute over the popular Minneapolis lake and reverses a decision from the Court of Appeals last spring.
Shelly Hendricks

Masks pose a new problem for Minnesota's deaf and hard of hearing

Masks muffle voices and make reading lips impossible for folks who "already feel isolated at times."
Jenn McEwen ORG XMIT: s-5Gz-AbrOd9lBpAPdEb

Third DFL incumbent blasts party endorsement process after losing

What began in March as a small camp consisting of about a couple dozen homeless adults has now swelled to more than 100 residents in tents. Known as "

Officials seek to contain growing Camp Quarantine in south Mpls.

Citing urgent public health concerns, Metro Transit authorities are moving to contain the spread of a large and growing homeless encampment near the light-rail line in south Minneapolis.
Pedestrians walked around a "road closed" sign as they walked around Lake Harriet Wednesday afternoon. ] Minneapolis' p

Minneapolis extends closure of parkways past June

The Park Board was originally going to reopen them at the end of the stay-at-home order.
The tennis courts are Lyndale Farmstead were locked up and closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.] RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII ¥ richard.tsong-taatarii@

Tennis players raise a racket about Minneapolis court closures

Tennis players have questioned why the Park Board wants to shut down a sport in which players are on opposite sides of a long court, with plenty of space between them and no physical contact
Hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists spent the afternoon at Bde Maka Ska Wednesday. ] Minneapolis' parks have become a

Even with some closures coming, Minneapolis parks to keep fine-tuning policies

Superintendent Al Bangoura said tougher decisions lie ahead.
A pickup basketball game at Peavey Field Park in Minneapolis on March 26. Officials were concerned about people not practicing social distancing.

Mpls. will close athletic fields, playgrounds by May 1

The restrictions, which are meant to prevent groups from congregating during the pandemic, will include removing or blocking basketball rims; removing tennis and volleyball nets; and posting signs notifying park visitors that soccer fields, playgrounds and skate parks are closed.
City Council candidate Suud Olat.

Candidates line up for Mpls. City Council vacancy

Winner will replace Abdi Warsame and remain in office through 2021.
On April 1, people flocked to Bde Maka Ska despite officials urging social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Mpls. to close parkways to cars along Bde Maka Ska, reopen at Lake Harriet

A park commissioner said he reopened them to allow seniors and people with health issues to visit the lake.
Diane Beck and Keelie Ritter looked up the car model at color on an order as they carried out meals to people's trunks at the Birchwood Cafe in Minnea

In one Minneapolis neighborhood, small businesses get creative to survive pandemic

The merchants of Seward are counting on support from loyal neighbors to weather the shutdown.
In North Loop, apartment dwellers cheer on medical workers from every balcony

In North Loop, apartment dwellers cheer on medical workers from every balcony

Every night at 7 p.m., neighbors step out on their balconies to show their appreciation.
People flocked to Bde Maka Ska on April 1, despite officials urging social distancing. The Minneapolis Park Board barricaded three more parkways for u

Minneapolis parks superintendent granted special authority during pandemic

Minneapolis' July 4th fireworks celebration is on hold as part of the Park Board's actions in favor of social distancing.

Latest cancellation due to virus pandemic: Summer in Mpls.

To maintain social distancing, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board this week announced the cancellation of most recreational activities through Aug. 31. The decision will be a major disruption to families across Minneapolis, put the jobs of hundreds of seasonal employees in limbo and result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for the Park Board.
Through a class at Blind, Inc. Angie Castro, 30, is learning to navigate Minneapolis, including crossing busy streets around Blind, Inc. headquarters,

Minneapolis-based BLIND Inc. teaches life skills and the joy of independence

People from all over the country come to the Minneapolis training center for six to nine months.
People flocked to Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis despite officials urging social distancing to combat the spread of the coronavirus as temperatures crept

Mpls. officials double down on call for people to spread out

Alarmed by the numbers gathering at the most popular lakes and trails, parks leaders doubled down on their call for people to spread out and visit smaller neighborhood parks instead. They say doing so could head off more drastic action, such as closing parks altogether.

Motorcyclist killed in crash north of Mankato

The driver's identity has not been released.
Phoenix Market manager Tarig Mohamed, center, makes change for a customer, as friend and customer Mustafa Naffa, left, looks on at the Dayton's Bluff

Corner stores play essential role as Minnesotans cope with virus

Operators scramble to keep supplies coming and their employees safe.
A rubber gloved shopper carried paper towels and other supplies through the downtown Minneapolis skyway.

Skyways in Minneapolis, Duluth are cutting hours or closing altogether

Minneapolis' skyways are owned by each building, and as a result have different hours of operation.
CARLOS GONZALEZ ¥ October 27, 2009 - List of restaurants for VitaMN

Ginger Hop, beloved club Honey permanently closing in Mpls. amid pandemic

Honey and Ginger Hop were open just outside downtown Minneapolis for more than 10 years.
The walking path at Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, Minn. was full of people out for fresh air on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. ] RENEE JONES SCHNEIDER &

Minneapolis to close some parkways so runners, walkers can spread out

The Park Board is expecting to close other parkways, but hasn't said which ones.
People are finding ways to stay social during social isolation.

Google Hangouts, virtual happy hours: Minnesotans find ways to connect

From Google Hangouts to alley parties, friends and family are staying connected in creative ways.
Indeed Brewery co-founder Tom Whisenand hosted the "Who Needs a Beer?" Facebook Live variety show Thursday night. He made multiple impassioned pleas t

Livestreams, Google hangouts and alley parties: How Minnesotans are keeping their distance during coronavirus

Despite social distancing, we need to maintain our links with others.