Minneapolis Neighborhood Promised to “Check its Privilege”, Then a 300-Strong Homeless Camp Moved In
Order. Rule. Law. Humanity. How do they work?
This is so perfect.
An uber-progressive neighborhood in Minneapolis has vowed not to call the cops on people in the community and instead to utilize the American Indian Movement to help solve local grievances.
And for the last two weeks, an encampment of at least 300 homeless people (and counting) have made the neighborhood their home. It’s all playing out exactly as you’d expect, especially if you were around the blogosphere during the Occupy years (from the NYT):
The impulse many white Powderhorn Park residents have to seek help from community groups rather than from the police is being felt in neighborhoods across the country. But some are finding the commitment hard to stand by when faced with the complex realities of life. While friends, neighbors and even family members in Powderhorn Park agree to avoid calling the police at all costs, it has been harder to establish where to draw the line.
From the NYT:
After the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Ms. Albers, who is white, and many of her progressive neighbors have vowed to avoid calling law enforcement into their community. Doing so, they believed, would add to the pain that black residents of Minneapolis were feeling and could put them in danger.
Already, that commitment is being challenged. Two weeks ago, dozens of multicolored tents appeared in the neighborhood park. They were brought by homeless people who were displaced during the unrest that gripped the city. The multiracial group of roughly 300 new residents seems to grow larger and more entrenched every day. They do laundry, listen to music and strategize about how to find permanent housing. Some are hampered by mental illness, addiction or both.
Their presence has drawn heavy car traffic into the neighborhood, some from drug dealers. At least two residents have overdosed in the encampment and had to be taken away in ambulances.
Tobie Miller, Ms. Albers’s 34-year-old daughter, lives just a block away from her mother, but lately, she said, they have felt a world apart. Ms. Miller began a concerted effort last year to challenge her own privileges by taking a class on racial biases.
She worries that a lot of what has been written about the camp on community message boards has been influenced by racial profiling. To the extent that illegal activity is going on in the park, Ms. Miller does not blame the tent residents. “My feeling around it is those are symptoms of systemic oppression,” she said. “And that’s not on them.”
Some of the self-examination she and her mother have done recently has led them to the same place. Ms. Miller came to see her decision to buy a home in the neighborhood as potentially preventing a person of color from doing so. And while Ms. Albers used to feel only pride about the work she put in to revitalizing the community, now, she sees her work as gentrification that may have pushed out nonwhite residents. The neighborhood’s black population has dropped more than 5 percentage points since 2000.
I’m sure you’ll also be shocked to learn that armed robberies have occurred:
Mitchell Erickson’s fingers began dialing 911 last week before he had a chance to even consider alternatives, when two black teenagers who looked to be 15, at most, cornered him outside his home a block away from the park.
One of the boys pointed a gun at Mr. Erickson’s chest, demanding his car keys.
Flustered, Mr. Erickson handed over a set, but it turned out to be house keys. The teenagers got frustrated and ran off, then stole a different car down the street.
Mr. Erickson said later that he would not cooperate with prosecutors in a case against the boys. After the altercation, he realized that if there was anything he wanted, it was to offer them help. But he still felt it had been right to call the authorities because there was a gun involved.
Two days after an initial conversation, his position had evolved. “Been thinking more about it,” he wrote in a text message. “I regret calling the police. It was my instinct but I wish it hadn’t been. I put those boys in danger of death by calling the cops.”
The Minneapolis park board decided to allow public parks to double as refuges, despite the obvious health issues involved:
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