MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Citing a safety concern, Minneapolis’ police chief did not attend a neighborhood meeting Thursday night.

But some blame her absence on the topic: police accountability.

More than 200 people filled Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis. Organizers billed the event as a listening session with Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

It was organized after the arrest of community activist Al Flowers in July.

But the chief says someone she trusts told her there was the potential for physical violence against police.

“When I hear things about physical violence or being physical at all, then public safety’s our number-one goal,” Harteau said. “And I can’t in good conscience attend something that I feel has the potential to be physically violent.”

Steve Shagwell, who attended the meeting, says he thinks Harteau’s reason is just an excuse.

“I don’t think they were planning on this many people being here with a focus on confronting this issue,” Shagwell said.

The moderator of Thursday night’s meeting called the chief’s absence “disrespectful.”

Chief Harteau has attended dozens of listening sessions in the past and said she would consider rescheduling this one.

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