Brooklyn Center leaders under pressure to provide answers after chaotic meetings

Eric Rasmussen
Updated: April 16, 2021 08:32 PM
Created: April 16, 2021 06:55 PM

City leaders in Brooklyn Center are under pressure from all sides to come up with a clear plan to handle protests after the police killing of Daunte Wright on Sunday.

Observers say some of that increased scrutiny of the mayor and City Council has been brought on by often chaotic and confusing meetings and news conferences this week, including an emergency council meeting called at the last minute on Thursday night.

Mayor Mike Elliott said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss security measures, but after two hours in a closed session, the mayor and council emerged, cut off public comment and did not take questions.

That prompted at least one man in the audience to taunt the mayor, shouting "King Elliot," as the clerk called roll to adjourn the meeting.

"Mayor, why are you not listening to the community?" the same man asked without getting a response.

Others were also left without firm answers about whether the city would continue to rely on assistance from other police agencies during protests.

On Thursday, Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson seemed to call out Elliott for sending mixed messages — requesting help from outside law enforcement while also rejecting some of their tactics, such as the use of tear gas on protesters.

In a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a Brooklyn Center spokesperson said the city "seeks to continue work with government partners."

The same spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to interview Elliott on Friday.

Don Samuels, a former Minneapolis council member, said the mayor and council are under great pressure made more difficult by the resignation of former Police Chief Tim Gannon and the firing of City Manager Curt Boganey less than 48 hours after the shooting.

"Everything is being thrown at the mayor and the council all at the same time from different places with different levels of expectations," Samuels said. 

"It's a small city, and they're dealing with a national-slash-global issue, demanding a precise and pretty much perfect response, which they do not really have the experience to do."

Samuels says Elliott has also increased expectations even from allies during this crisis because he came into office with a progressive agenda.

"They're making decisions on the fly in a very hostile and tense situation, but there are consequences. If some group is not happy with the outcome of that meeting or with the performance of the mayor and the council, they will pay a price for that meeting," Samuels said. 

Before adjourning the emergency meeting on Thursday, Mayor Elliott promised a separate meeting to hear community concerns about the handling of protests, but Samuels warns there's more to be done.

"I would encourage them to be as accessible and visible as possible," Samuels said. "And demonstrate to either side that you're able to take the heat for the good of the community."


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