City plans imminent closure of south Minneapolis homeless encampment

City plans imminent closure of south Minneapolis homeless encampment

City plans imminent closure of south Minneapolis homeless encampment

Residents have raised concerns regarding a homeless encampment in south Minneapolis, where police investigated a homicide on Thursday.

“The City continues to recognize the significant public safety risk of large encampments and is working with the private property owner to plan for an imminent closure,” wrote a City of Minneapolis spokesperson on Friday.

The encampment is just a block from the intersection of West Lake Street and Blaisdell Avenue. Tents are right up against the side of the Park Square Condominiums.

“They’re vandalizing that wall,” said Raymond Hoffman, the president of the complex. “Scares the daylights out of the families. There’s drugs, you can see the paraphernalia.”

The city asked his security team to participate in an effort to remove the group on Thursday morning, according to Hoffman. He said, however, the displacement was cancelled at the last minute.

“Encampment closure operations are fluid and are dependent on resources, capacity, and external factors. For that reason, closure dates can shift,” wrote a city spokesperson.

On Friday, pastor Chris Bellanger’s team brought meals to the unsheltered with help from Involve MN.

“For me, it’s a calling,” Bellanger said.  “I left corporate about seven years ago because of our city and the way it is — instead of me complaining about the challenge, I’d rather bring solutions to it.”

Bellanger said the meals they offer are hopefully a conversation piece to shepherd those on the street struggling to find help with treatment options.

“Our hope is we get them to their next,” Bellanger said. “So if it’s… ‘I need detox, I need a halfway facility, I need a church, I need resources, I need basic essentials,’ we have that opportunity to get them to the next.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara raised concerns about the encampment.

“The violence that can be associated, either with drug trafficking or simply around a bunch of people involved in these activities, it’s a very serious problem,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara said the victim of the homicide is believed to be associated with the homeless encampment.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner identified the victim Friday as 27-year-old Abdirizak Mahamed Abader, from Mankato, who was shot in the chest.

If the city closes the encampment, Bellanger said it might help one block, but the camp will set up somewhere else.

“That’s the cat and mouse game, that’s the catch-22 — what do we do?” Bellanger said.
That’s why he said he comes out to try and help those struggling with possible addiction find another path and hopefully get off the street.

“It’s about getting out here to let people know they care about them and that there’s another way,” Bellanger said.