In her third State of the City address, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges praised the city’s progress but acknowledged lingering problems of racial disparities.
Although she commented on the city’s efforts to improve race relations, Hodges’ speech last week drew criticism from some community members.
“Minneapolis is a remarkable and wonderful city, and Minneapolis is a city of deep challenges, particularly regarding race,” Hodges said.
Hodges began the speech by calling attention to rising gun violence in North Minneapolis. She said Minneapolis Police Department Chief JaneÃ© Harteau sent more police patrols and enforcement to hot spots in the area.
Hodges said she wants the MPD to hire more officers of color to strengthen police-community relations in the areas. This effort includes community service officer programs, where the most recent training class was 61 percent people of color, Hodges said.
She also spoke about the November fatal shooting of Jamar Clark and the subsequent 18-day occupation of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fourth Precinct. No charges were filed against officers involved with the shooting.
Hodges said she requested the Department of Justice to author a report on the city’s response to Fourth Precinct protests, which will be released this fall.
Mica Grimm, a founder of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis who was at the Fourth Precinct occupation, said she was frustrated by the mayor’s speech.
Grimm said Hodges should have mentioned BLM members and others responsible for starting the protests.
“The way she talks about it is almost as if she … is taking credit for it,” Grimm said. “It took her like five days to show up at the Fourth Precinct, which is crazy.”
Grimm said she doesn’t think hiring officers of color will help police relations.
“The solution is that we should be hiring officers from the communities that they will be policing,” she said. “They shouldn’t be coming in from out of town or out in the suburbs because we know that there’s a perception about Minneapolis, and no officer, no human is exempt from having some type of bias.”
Grimm said she finds Hodges’s efforts to improve race relations disingenuous.
“I don’t believe that she wants to fix [race relations],” Grimm said. “She’s trying to cash in on any political capital that she can right now before she leaves office and moves on to something else.”
Meanwhile, Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon said Hodges showed courage by addressing racial issues.
“I think she did a good job of capturing an important sense that a lot of people have in this city that Minneapolis is a good city, but it’s kind of a tale of two cities, and there’s still some issues that we have to deal with,” Gordon said. “Especially those things associated with racial and … economic inequities.”