Minneapolis won’t decide 3rd Precinct future until after 3rd anniversary of it burning
The City of Minneapolis won’t decide on the future of its 3rd Police Precinct until at least June, more than three years after the police station burned during civil unrest.
The City recently wrapped up community meetings and closed a survey that gave community members two options about the future of the precinct. Officials must decide if they’ll rebuild the 3rd Precinct at Lake St. and Minnehaha Ave. or spend an additional $10-15 million to build a brand new station down the street.
Neighbors are frustrated by the process, and a neighborhood organization subcontracted to help gather community input said late last week that no matter which decision the City lands on, they’ll reject it.
The dilapidated, boarded up and barricaded-off 3rd Precinct is more than an eyesore to its neighbors, it’s a traumatizing memory: The former workplace of the man convicted of murdering George Floyd and a symbol of years of police brutality.
Lydia Kauppi lives a few blocks from the former police station. It’s the same home she was living in on May 28, 2020.
“I still remember going down there at like six in the morning after most of the fires that happened, and there was just the lineup of…” Kauppi trailed off and paused, before adding, “It felt like we weren’t in the U.S.”
“It was an ‘us versus them’ thing and it was really ugly,” she continued.
Kauppie said the leftover emotion came pouring out in the City’s April input sessions regarding the building’s future.
“It was like the first time you just had hundreds of people in a room, who were all still traumatized by this thing. And then we all got a chance to kind of start talking about it. And it was, just it felt like a release,” she explained.
Asked if she selected a rebuild or the new building option on the City survey, Kauppi said, “No, I didn’t, no.”
“On the form I wrote, neither of these are appropriate at this time, so I can’t make a decision,” she continued.
“Essentially the City’s assuming that people want a precinct at all,” Wanja Kuria, community organizer for Longfellow Community Council (LCC), said.
LCC is the nearby neighborhood association the City subcontracted to help gather community input.
The Council conducted its own survey last year, and the results showed 75% — out of a few hundred who responded — said they don’t want to see the 3rd Precinct rebuilt where it originally was. Kuria said the results were shared with the City at the time.
If reference to the City’s April online survey, Kuria said, what LCC thought was going to be an open-ended discussion about where to put the precinct and what its services should look like, unexpectedly turned into an “either/or” scenario.
LCC representatives penned a resolution to City leaders late last week, rejecting both options and demanding a new community outreach process.
“What the Board is saying is that any answer that comes out of this will not actually be with the community in mind,” Kuria said.
About a mile from the precinct, Roxy Lynch, too, watched the rioting unfold in 2020.
“It was it was frightening. I could feel the turmoil in my guts, especially knowing a lot of the officers,” she shared.
“Every window in my house, all I could see was fire,” she added.
Lynch is among the neighbors ready to see police back in their precinct.
“When I’m out driving and I think of all the car thefts, I think if somebody was following me, I would drive right to the police station. But I can’t do that. I would have to go to the 5th Precinct if something was happening,” she shared.
Waiting years for a brand new building to go up is too long, Lynch said.
“I feel pretty strong that financially and time-wise it makes sense to put it where it was,” she continued, adding, “I also do not want to be insensitive to police officers, or those that live right there that may have had trauma during that time”
Even some City Council members are frustrated by the planning for the 3rd Precinct.
“We have been cut out of the process,” Ward 2 Council Member Robin Wonsley said.
She represents one of a few wards that fall at least partially within the 3rd Precinct.
“The city has structured this in a way to manufacture consent for a predetermined plan,” she said.
The city denied comment on the survey results Monday.
Minneapolis-based DeYoung Consulting Services “is working on analyzing the data and feedback,” a City spokesperson said in an email. “A report is expected in June. Until then, we cannot share details on the results.”