Nearly 200 young adults, community leaders and children gathered at Sabathani Community Center two weeks ago to engage in a public discussion with Chief of Police Janee Harteau. Over forty people shared their stories, focusing on the experiences they have had with the Minneapolis Police Department. Many members of communities of color expressed deep challenges when dealing with police officers and demanded greater accountability measures to improve police-community relations.
We were fortunate to welcome youth from the We Win Institute who artistically told of a future without violence through dance, drum and song. The performance was followed by a detailed and constructive dialogue where people stayed for an extra hour to identify ways to move forward in fixing our policing systems and improving our mechanisms for accountability.
Unfortunately, Chief Harteau did not join us to listen and respond to community concerns. Despite the Chief's absence, I feel that we emerged from the session with a clear directive from the community. I want to thank Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden and Council Member Cam Gordon for joining me as co-hosts of the event and staying late so that all of the community members who wanted to speak were heard. I feel strongly that now is the time for us to make major strides in improving the relationships between our community and the police, focusing on accountability and oversight. I am working closely with my Council colleagues and the community to move forward on the requests that we heard about.