MPRB Commissioner Issues Apology

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A tense exchange between the president of the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board and the president of the Minneapolis NAACP was captured on video Wednesday evening.

The incident has resulted in a public apology from the parks board commissioner and a call for MPRB President Liz Wielinski’s resignation.

The video posted to Facebook shows the exchange between Nekima Levy-Pounds and Wielinski.

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Levy-Pounds said the group and her were at the meeting in an attempt to shed light on the discriminatory practices of the MPRB.

During the exchange, Wielinski – visibly agitated – is seen yelling at Levy-Pounds, saying “I’m tired of this! You keep interrupting our meeting!”

Levy-Pounds then says “don’t talk to me like I’m a slave” to which Wielinski responds “I’m not talking to you like a slave, I’m talking to you like you’re a rude interrupting person! You’re a rude interrupting adult!”

Wielinski then says that there is “open time” during their regular meetings, but since it was a committee of the whole meeting, there wasn’t time.

“And you could have answered that instead of being disrespectful toward me as a black woman,” Levy-Pounds responded. “Because number one, I’m not your child, so don’t ever talk to me like that again.”

Levy-Pounds continues, saying that the board has treated people of color who work for the parks board in an unfair and unequal manner.

“The fact that you brag about being the No. 1 park board in the country in a very diverse city such as Minneapolis and we look around the room and table and every single one of you is white,” she said. “How can you effectively represent the people of the city of Minneapolis when we’re not at the table?”

Toward the end of the exchange, Wielinski is seen taking out her phone and recording the group.

On Thursday, MPRB Commissioner Brad Bourn made issued a public apology:

As a Commissioner on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, I’d like to publicly apologize to Nekima Levy-Pounds and the folks that took the time to attend our meeting last night (many for the first time) for the way they were treated.

Last night at a public Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board meeting we were joined by about a dozen people of color. Many of who, I had never seen at one of our meetings before. I was inspired that so many new people were engaging in our public process. At one point in the meeting, the group made a very minor infraction on English parliamentary rules. I’ve seen these infractions before at meetings and they are usually handled in a very calm, friendly manner. I was floored and embarrassed by how these folks were treated last night. The Park Board should be a welcoming place and we should all be embarrassed by this.

No one who is trying to make our parks better for everyone in Minneapolis deserves to be treated this way.

I think the fact that this video has been viewed thousands of times in less about 12 hours shows how unacceptable this behavior was.

Levy-Pounds has since called for the resignation of Wielinski.

“Their responses represent the ultimate in white privilege and contribute to the systemic silencing and oppression of people of color. It is time for Liz Wielenski to resign from her role as Park Board President based upon her egregious conduct and ignoring ongoing issues of racial discrimination within MPRB,” she said.

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