Council’s outreach connects the city

Daily Editorial Board

The presence of Minneapolis City Council members among the crowds that decried the police shooting of a young black man at rallies outside the Fourth Precinct’s station last week has drawn both commendation and criticism.
 
At least three council members appeared at protests on Wednesday: Ward 9 Councilwoman Alondra Cano, Ward 10 Councilwoman Lisa Bender and Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon. Gordon represents part of the University of Minnesota’s district. 
 
The three have also voiced public support for protesters’ demands, which include calls for the release of videos that might have captured the shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark.
 
“I wish we would do more as a city to support the protests in the face of this serious and critical time,” said Gordon.
 
Council President Barbara Johnson, who represents part of the Fourth Precinct, called their participation “very awkward” and said, “It is not helpful when council members criticize the tactical decisions that are made by our chief of police.” 
 
Bender, albeit for different reasons, also recognized she had put herself in an uncomfortable position.
 
“It has been really awkward for me to have to stand between my city’s police department with weapons drawn and a crowd of peaceful protesters,” she tweeted on Thursday.
 
Council members are meant to connect Minneapolis residents and city hall officials — a task that is most effectively and genuinely done through face-to-face engagement.
 
We commend the council members who, during a time of turmoil for Minneapolis, responded to constituents with presence and support.