Ten people were ejected by Minneapolis and park police from a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting Wednesday night. Four people were removed early in the meeting for shouting as board President Anita Tabb tried to read rules governing public comment, and six others were removed later.
The ejections marked a tougher stance by Tabb after weeks of chants and comments by people critical of the park system’s performance in hiring, promoting and disciplining minority employees and applicants. They followed several warnings she read that were mostly drowned out by crowd comments.
The removals came even before a board committee got to a proposal that would set standards of conduct for board meetings in the future and specify a protocol for removing those who do not comply.
The removals came at a meeting jammed with more than 100 people. They included critics of the board’s treatment of minorities, supporters of a proposed Adventure Welcome Center for cross-country skiing and mountain biking at Wirth Park, and members of Local 363. The union group represents park keepers and opposes outsourcing their ski grooming and snow-making work to a workforce hired by the Loppet Foundation, which is donating the center building.
Park Police director Jason Ohotto said four of the 10 removed were issued citations, three for disorderly conduct and one for obstruction.
Activists for racial equity have been pushing the Park Board to address complaints that its hiring, promotional and disciplinary practices are discriminatory. Protesters’ chanting has led to temporary meeting recesses five times in the past 12 weeks.
Neither Tabb nor her predecessor, Liz Wielinski, had previously had protesters removed from meetings.
In contrast, City Council President Barbara Johnson has enforced a harder line at meetings of the full council.