A divided Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board passed an emergency resolution to kick the State Patrol out of parks headquarters, where troopers would take breaks and eat lunch.
Commissioner Londel French, who authored the resolution, advocated ending the Park Board's relationship with the State Patrol due to its role in suppressing protests and riots over police brutality.
"Over the last week or so we've been having a lot of unrest in our city," French said. "A lot of the folks that have been at the heart of putting that unrest down or stifling the protesters have been, in Minneapolis, the Minnesota State Patrol."
The State Patrol has been helping other law enforcement agencies police protests in Brooklyn Center after former police officer Kim Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright on April 11.
Nightly demonstrations have taken place in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. While most demonstrators have been peaceful, some lobbed bricks and fireworks over the department's security fence. Police returned fire with rubber bullets and tear gas, which medical professionals recently criticized as being "inherently indiscriminate" and poorly aimed.
Brooklyn Center shopping centers were looted in recent unrest, with some incidents in north and south Minneapolis, as well as Uptown.
Since 2012, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has had a license agreement allowing State Patrol troopers to use its headquarters at 2117 West River Road as a rest area for free, where they can work on reports as long as they use their own equipment. Commissioners last voted in 2018 to extend the agreement through January 2022.
"The State Patrol's lease with the Park Board amounts to a docking station in a cubicle," said State Patrol spokesman Lt. Gordon Shank.
According to Dawn Sommers, parks spokeswoman, the working relationship between the State Patrol and Park Police includes traffic safety training and collaboration on the state's Toward Zero Deaths initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities. The State Patrol also helps with the Park Board's annual Safety Camp for kids and provides traffic control for the Minneapolis Bike Tour.
Board president Jono Cowgill accelerated French's resolution to the full board for a vote on Wednesday instead of going through committee because "it's an important issue at the moment."
Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw objected. "This seems like political grandstanding to me," she said. "It's my understanding that they use the parking lot and the toilet."
"I was a bit surprised to see this, too," said Commissioner Meg Forney. "I think the more we can build relationships, the more we will be able to transform and make change."
The resolution passed on a 5-4 vote with Commissioners Brad Bourn, Chris Meyer, AK Hassan, French and Cowgill voting yes, and Steffanie Musich, Kale Severson, Forney and Vetaw voting no.
"The Minnesota State Patrol values our relationships with community in the city of Minneapolis — whether participating in MPRB youth safety camps, assisting with road closures for special events, or supporting community events like Juneteenth," Shank said in a statement. "The State Patrol will continue our mission to protect and serve all people on Minnesota's roadways even if the agency is no longer welcome to office from Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board headquarters."
Susan Du • 612-673-4028