East Phillips residents sue Minneapolis, alleging slow police response times to neighborhood

Residents in the East Phillips neighborhood are suing the City of Minneapolis, alleging slow police response times or lack of police response and lack of equal protection for the lower income neighborhood. 

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, seeks class action, allowing any East Phillips resident since 1990 to join.

East Phillips is bordered by East 24th Street to the north, East Lake Street to the south, Hiawatha Avenue to the east and Bloomington Avenue to the west. 

The lawsuit argues the city is “not offering equal protections in its distribution of services and funding to its low wealth neighborhoods.” 

The lawsuits say even before death of George Floyd and ensuing unrest in the city, police were slow to respond to shootings in the neighborhood or have not responded at all, with the exception of an officer-involved shooting. 

“We as a community have been told to call 311 instead of 911 when bullets fly,” the lawsuit reads. 

The lawsuit also says the city has no issue enforcing snow emergencies, parking or code infractions in the neighborhood, however. 

“When it comes to fining residents of the community, they are quite organized and efficient. But if the situation is dangerous, they are not present,” the lawsuit argues.  

The lawsuit also mentions Little Earth residents have petitioned the city for “Slow Children” signs at Cedar Field for over 10 years, to no avail. 

The plaintiffs say they are currently canvassing their neighbors and community to find more examples, which they plan to put forth to the court. 

The lawsuit seeks general damages for “pain and suffering for individuals who have lost loved ones due to police neglect in their response times, children lost due to lack of signage and the emotional stress of living without services to the East Phillips neighborhood,” as well as money damages for fines to the neighborhood and punitive damages so the city’s alleged treatment of the neighborhood will not happen again. 

The lawsuit comes as residents in the Phillips community, which includes East Phillips, have begun to take matters into their own hands when it comes to public safety. 

Earlier this month, FOX 9 reported that residents had erected barricades and were on a 24-hour watch after they felt the area was being overrun by drugs, prostitution and gun violence. 

The city and police eventually worked with residents on their community policing efforts, which appeared to have some positive results.