MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The City of Minneapolis is spending $4,500 a day for private security for three council members who have received threats following the police killing of George Floyd, FOX 9 has learned.
A city spokesperson said the private security details have cost taxpayers $63,000 over the past three weeks.
The three council members who have the security detail – Andrea Jenkins (Ward 8), and Phillipe Cunningham (Ward 4), and Alondra Cano (Ward 9)– have been outspoken proponents of defunding the Minneapolis Police Department.
Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham declined to discuss the security measures.
“I don’t feel comfortable publicly discussing the death threats against me or the level of security I currently have protecting me from those threats,” said Cunningham in a text message.
Cunningham added that the security is temporary.
Councilmember Andrea Jenkins said she has been asking for security since she was sworn in. She said current threats have come in the form of emails, letters, and posts to social media.
“My concern is the large number of white nationalist(s) in our city and other threatening communications I’ve been receiving,” wrote Jenkins in an email.
Councilmember Cano did not return messages seeking comment.
Minneapolis mayors have traditionally had a security detail provided by a Minneapolis Police officer who also functions as the mayor’s driver. The thirteen council members are not given the same protection.
Asked why Minneapolis Police are not providing security services to the three council members, a city spokesperson said MPD resources are needed in the community. The hourly cost of private security is similar to the cost for a police officer, the spokesperson added.
A spokesperson for Minneapolis Police told FOX 9 the department does not have any recent police reports of threats against city council members. It is possible a report could have been filed confidentially.
Jenkins said she has not reported the threats to Minneapolis Police because she has been preoccupied with the dual crisis of the “global pandemic and global uprising” over the killing of George Floyd.
Jenkins said the threats have attacked her ethnicity, gender identity, and sexuality.
The security detail is being provided by two firms, Aegis and BelCom.
City contracts of more than $175,000, if unrelated to an emergency declaration, need to be approved by the City Council. A city spokesperson said it is not anticipated security costs will rise to that level.
The security services are intended to be a temporary bridge until other security measures can be implemented by council members, the spokesperson said.
It is unclear who authorized the expenditures. City Coordinator Mark Ruff and City Council President Lisa Bender did not return messages seeking comment.