Angry at what they called the city of Minneapolis’ “militarized” response to homelessness, protesters set up camp on the sidewalk outside Mayor Jacob Frey’s home on East Hennepin Avenue on Sunday.
“I think we can all agree that we don’t want to see camps on our streets, in our parks,” said Young Eagle, a protester identified as a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. “But we are seeing a militarized response.
“Is that what we’re going to see here? Is that how we’re going to show our Midwest values, Minnesota values of taking care of our neighbors?”
In recent months, the city has dismantled several homeless camps, most recently in the Harrison neighborhood on the city’s north side.
A spokesperson for Frey said the mayor is “working toward the goal of finding safe, stable, permanent housing for everyone,” citing a number of policy accomplishments, including a $200 million investment with Hennepin County. for the response to homelessness.
At least three new shelters have opened in the past two years, and the city has increased funding for street teams and a new team of city homeless response coordinators.
“The city and county, together with state, nonprofit and philanthropic partners, have fundamentally reshaped the homelessness response system since the pandemic began in March 2020,” spokeswoman Katie said. Lauer.
It’s not enough, said the defenders who set up three tents and an information kiosk on the sidewalk and street parking spaces outside Frey’s building.
“It’s just absolute outrage at the city going through and destroying the camps, destroying everything the homeless have,” said Emilie Valenti, who was handing out information as well as socks, hats and food. . Many camp residents lost essential items such as birth certificates, medicine and identity documents when they were chased away, she said, often without warning.
“They are treated like absolute trash, and everything they own is in the trash,” Valenti said. The problem is compounded, several protesters said, due to a shortage of beds at homeless shelters across the county.
Lauer said Frey’s home has become a focal point for protests and threats in recent months, and has been repeatedly vandalized. The mayor, who has a 2-year-old child, was at home on Sunday as protesters gathered outside.
With the city’s recent shift to a strong mayoral form of government, Frey should do more, Young Eagle said.
“You can’t say you’re a good guy when you’re doing aggressive weaponized sweeps,” Young Eagle said. “I think in 2020 we’ve all seen what people can do. People can take charge. We hope that’s not necessary.”
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