MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A council meant to heal divisions and increase understanding between Minneapolis Park Police and the communities they serve ended up creating controversy before it was even officially formed.
The Minneapolis Park Board decided to create the Park Police Advisory Council in the wake of an incident at Minnehaha Park last summer, where Somali teens were detained and handcuffed after a 911 caller reported seeing them with knives and sticks. No weapons were found.
“I’m struggling with the fact that a white man gets to appoint people to this committee. We all know that in the world we live in, white men have the least problems with policing,” said Commissioner LaTrisha Vetaw.
About 20 people applied to be on the board, and staff selected six of them to be voted on. After that list was finalized, Park Board President Brad Bourn solicited his own applicants and replaced three of the original picks with his own.
Attorney Joe Tamburino was one of the ones who was dropped.
“Why did we go through a whole public process of trying to get people involved in the community to be on an advisory council?” Tamburino said.
Bourn didn’t break any rules by doing this. As president, he was able to present his own list to be voted on, but some commissioners argued the process was not fair.
“The lack of transparency is my difficulty with this,” said Commissioner Meg Forney.
In the end, an additional pick by Commissioner Vetaw was added to Bourn’s group of six. That list of seven names was unanimously approved.
It is still unclear when the advisory council will get together for the first time. The group is set to have monthly meetings.