Sayles Belton urges citizens to remain calm, says city not under direct threat

Tom Ford

Following this morning’s apparent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington D.C., Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton advised citizens to remain calm, saying security in city and federal buildings in Minneapolis has been stepped up and the emergency communications center in City Hall has been activated. Minneapolis is currently in a state of “full-alert preparedness,” she said.

“We will not take any chances but we do expect things to be fine here at home,” Sayles Belton said.

She said the city is not under any federal directives to shut down, adding city employees will remain at work until further notice.

Police Chief Robert Olson said the police department and the fire department are in constant communication with the FBI and the Secret Service. He added the police department is operating at a “heightened state of alert” and is responding to a greater number of emergency calls than it normally would.

“There aren’t a lot of things you can do if a plane drops out of the sky,” Olson said.

Fire Chief Rocco Forte said fire stations are fully staffed and, though he doesn’t expect it will be needed, the department is equipped with an emergency preparedness plan.

The Federal Courthouse will also remain open, said spokesperson Karen Bailey, though a 50-foot security perimeter is being patrolled by guards and vehicles entering the parking ramp beneath it are subject to security checks.

Dave Sternberg, general manager of the IDS Center, ordered an evacuation of the building this morning, according to spokesperson Betsy Buckley.

Buckley said the building would remain closed for the rest of the day and all 3,500 people who work there have been asked to go home. She could not say whether the building would reopen tomorrow.

“Our primary focus has been to take care of the people,” Buckley said.

Sam Grabarski, president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council said the council is not ordering any businesses downtown to evacuate, though a few have reportedly closed independent of possible council action.

The mayor also said public schools remain open, but access to the buildings would be limited.

City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes said polls would remain open in today’s primary elections, and urged citizens to get out and vote.

Shira Kantor welcomes comments at [email protected]