Newspaper article

Candidates Ask: How Much Is the Minneapolis DFL Doing for People of Color?

Newspaper article

Candidates Ask: How Much Is the Minneapolis DFL Doing for People of Color?

Article excerpt

Several candidates vying for public office in Minneapolis lambasted the city's current leadership and the Democratic Party at a rally last week, criticizing both for not doing enough to address the state's persistent racial disparities and calling for a "massive, demonstrable paradigm shift in the city."

The rally, organized at the City Hall rotunda by mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds and attended by dozens of her supporters, aimed to act as an alternative State of the City address, one focused on Minneapolis' communities of color. Levy-Pounds said she believed such an address was needed after witnessing what she called nearly four years of dysfunction and a "government not living up to its responsibilities."

Besides Levy-Pounds, speakers included City Council hopefuls Raeisha Williams, Tiffini Flynn-Forslund and Samantha Pree-Stinson, all of whom chastised the city for the disunity within its leadership, and for inadequately addressing issues that most affect its communities of color: affordable housing, raising the minimum wage, closing the state's achievement gap and pushing for stronger police reforms.

"The ongoing miscommunication and lack of strong leadership, which was exposed by the report from the Department of Justice recently, has been a hallmark of this current administration," Levy-Pounds told the crowd, "especially when dealing with issues that impact communities of color."

Fourth precinct fallout

The city's handling of the occupation of the Fourth Precinct after the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark was emblematic of deeper shortcomings within city leadership, said Levy-Pounds. "[The occupation] should have been a signal to the current mayor, police chief and City Council members that our community is fed up with business-as-usual politics," she said.

Instead, Levy-Pounds said, after the encampment was disbanded, Mayor Hodges and Council Member Blong Yang attempted to allocate more than $600,000 to help fortify the Fourth Precinct police department -- a move that received strong pushback from activists, who said more funding for the status quo wasn't the answer.

The fallout from Clark's death has led to stronger pushes for police reform and helped to unify several civil rights groups last year in calling for more state funding to address Minnesota's racial disparities. …

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