Homeless camp raises concerns

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Public officials and homeless advocates have raised concerns about the growing number of people, estimated at several hundred, camped out in a Minneapolis park.

They say the encampment at Powderhorn Park is neither safe nor sustainable. Neighbors worry about increased crime as police investigate a third sexual assault at the park in less than two weeks.

The Star Tribune reports the number of tents in Powderhorn and around Minneapolis has rapidly grown since the Park Board opened all parks to homeless camps last month.

Homeless people were evicted from the former Sheraton Midtown Hotel, which became a makeshift shelter during recent civil unrest.

Some neighbors, social workers and elected officials have said the encampment is not safe because it includes people with mental illnesses and addictions.

Mayor Jacob Frey has called the encampment “untenable.” The Park Board recently voted down a plan to drastically limit the size of the tent settlements.

The Park Board initially estimated 800 people were camped at Powderhorn, but the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency said Friday the number is about 280.

Task force to guide changes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced Friday that a new task force has been formed to help guide the city as it considers changes to its Police Department, a priority for city leaders and some community members after the May 25 death of George Floyd.

The public safety transformation task force will include national and local leaders. Members of a local group will focus on increased accountability, safety beyond policing, community and police relations and proactive measures. Frey didn’t elaborate.

“Achieving deep, transformational change to public safety will require a team effort,” he said in a statement. “And the combination of experts and advocates that we have assembled are primed to deliver innovative policies and a wholly-new approach to public safety.”

Members of the local group will include police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Minneapolis NAACP president Leslie Redmond, Hennepin County Chief Public Defender Mary Moriarty and others.

Frey said a national group also will meet in coming weeks to focus on policies, practices and models to help Minneapolis build a safer city for everyone.

The City Council is moving forward with a proposal to dismantle the Police Department and replace it with a community-based approach. Frey has said he’s against abolishing the department, but that there must be change.


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