Call for cooperation, change at community meeting with Minneapolis police

At the Minneapolis Urban League Tuesday night, there was a call for cooperation and as well as a quest for social justice in the wake of the city’s most recent fatal officer-involved shooting.

“What happened to Thurman Blevins, we feel that pain,” said Al Flowers, a community activist.

Minneapolis police officers shot Blevins in an alley last month after police responded to a 911 call that a man was firing a handgun in the air and at the ground. His death prompted anger and protests, but some say the community should be outraged by all violent deaths on city streets - not just those involving police.

“We are responding to violence going on in our community whether it’s police or violence period on our side,” said Flowers. “There's people getting hurt every day. I think we should be talking about these incidents even if Mr. Blevins hadn't gotten killed."

For the last three months, police have met with several community organizations once a month to build a better working relationship. In their fourth meeting, topics ranged from conditions that fuel community frustrations like racial disparities in arrests, housing, and jobs.

“We should talk with community not just when we have tragic situations because we know those will happen,” said Minneapolis Police Asst. Chief Art Knight. “Have to have a relationship with them before then if you want to move forward.”

The conversation also touched on possible ways to recognize and handle trauma from police shootings and historic racism.

“We've had people who want to do healing circles and give people a place to process their feelings and emotions,” said City of Minneapolis Equity and Inclusion Manager Joy Marsh Stephens. “In others, we've actually put licensed therapists in community with individuals, go to protest sites to listen and talk to people.”

But most agree adding more police officers isn't the best way to build more trust.

“We need community centers,” said a resident at the meeting. “We need programs for our children. We need that kind of stuff. It would go a long way to appeal for those kinds of things as a whole organization.”