Community members mourn loss of local activist Tyrone Williams at Minneapolis public safety forum

The public safety forum was hosted by Mayor Jacob Frey and members of the Minneapolis City Council.

Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a public safety community forum at Sabathani Community Center on Tuesday, April 10.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Mayor Jacob Frey speaks during a public safety community forum at Sabathani Community Center on Tuesday, April 10.

Isabella Murray

Shouts filled a gymnasium at the Sabathani Community Center on Tuesday as activists voiced concerns at a public safety community forum hosted by Mayor Jacob Frey and members of the Minneapolis City Council. 

The south Minneapolis event was missing north Minneapolis community member Tyrone Williams, who was killed on April 3. His supporters rallied in his honor on Tuesday night, expressing disdain for the city’s governance while disagreeing among themselves. 

“Get to work before more of your constituents are gunned down,” said Chauntyll Allen, a supporter of Williams. “That blood is on your hands.”

Ward 4 Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham addressed the loss of Williams at the beginning of the forum. 

“His passion for public safety and standing up for injustice was felt not only in the space that we had the last time we came together but also in the work that he did day in and day out,” Cunningham said.

Although Williams was addressed, his supporters noted the irony of the forum’s acknowledgement of him. They said these types of events were what he worked against — cycles of talk without action. 

The forum, which was the second public safety hearing since March 28, began with Frey and members of the City’s Public Safety and Emergency Management Committee addressing a crowd of about 200 community members seated at small round-tables with colored writing utensils and stress toys. 

Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo, Fire Chief John Fruetel and newly re-appointed City Attorney Susan Segal were also in attendance, among other city employees. Arradondo, Fruetel and Segal sat at various tables with community members. 

While the forum was meant to discuss ways to improve public safety, the event quickly turned into further public outcry. 

“I think that context is important to understand what people are feeling in this room,” Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council member Steve Fletcher said. “There’s been a community tragedy since the last meeting that people are feeling really deeply.”

Heated monologues first came in between committee member introductions. Former mayoral candidates Al Flowers and Nekima Levy-Pounds and activist Pastor Jerry McAfee expressed their dissatisfaction with the police force and government action on public safety.  

Conflicts between groups of protesters occurred on the topic of gun violence within the city. 

“I think what we saw tonight is that people are hurting, people are impatient, people are in a lot of pain,” Fletcher said. “Sometimes when you ask the community how they’re feeling, you don’t get an answer back that’s easy to hear.”

Community members expressed their desire for smaller, more strategized events moving forward. 

“This meeting Is avoiding the nitty gritty. By doing it large like this, they’re overlooking big issues. Quit playing games,” Interim President and CEO of Little Earth Residents Association Jolene Jones said. “I show up to these hoping that one day they’ll hear us.”