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City council nixes plans to rebuild MPD Third Precinct building

Burned down in the 2020 protests, residents say the remnants of the Third Precinct building have served as a traumatic reminder of police brutality.
Image by Gabrielle Erenstein
Minneapolis police car in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Friday July 7, 2023. The CCPO was founded in 2023 to investigate complaints about police officers.

The Minneapolis City Council voted on July 20 to eliminate the former Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Third Precinct location that was burned and abandoned in the days after George Floyd’s murder for consideration for a new police station.

Following negative feedback toward the old location from residents, the council voted 12-1 to look elsewhere for a new station, with Council Vice President Linea Palmisano (Ward 13) as the lone opposition.

The old location, located on the corner of Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, was the former workplace of officer Derek Chauvin, whose killing of George Floyd sparked the protests in May 2020. The Third Precinct was set on fire and heavily damaged during the civil unrest following Floyd’s murder. 

For many residents, the old location is a traumatic reminder of MPD’s history of police brutality.

Black Lives Matter Minnesota Founder Trahern Crews said a systemic culture change of MPD is what will restore trust between the community and MPD.

“The Minneapolis Police Department as a whole has discriminated and practiced racism against Black residents, and I think that within itself is traumatizing,” Crews said.

The city initially sent a survey to residents covered by the Third Precinct where they could choose to rebuild in the old location or a more expensive location four blocks north of the old one. Respondents also had the choice to add a comment on the bottom of the form with any comments or concerns.

Out of 3,620 people who began the online survey, around 23% chose the new, more expensive option and around 44% chose to rebuild in the old location.

Although the survey only had two options, 10% of respondents chose the random option and in the comment section said they did not want either option or to not rebuild the station at all. The remaining respondents either did not complete the survey or did not live within the Third Precinct’s borders.

Vice President of Communities United Against Police Brutality Dave Bicking said reforming MPD is needed before they try to rebuild the station.

“We have got to fix the police department first before we fix the buildings,” Bicking said. “The buildings are not the problem.”

Council member Jason Chavez (Ward 9), who introduced the motion, thanked residents for their input in a statement and said the decision to only have two options with limited community engagement was “shortsighted.”

Bicking said this fight shows the city’s unwillingness to change and the community’s desire for it.

“All the signs are the city is going to resist everything to maintain the status quo,” Bicking said. “As long as that’s the case, people are going to push back.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey in a July 17 press conference said Century Plaza will house the Third Precinct. Century Plaza is located in the First Precinct building a few blocks away from the Third Precinct.

While Century Plaza is the current home of the First Precinct police station, this new plan would add extra floors to the building for the use of the Third Precinct officers pending council approval. 

Since the old precinct building was abandoned, Third Precinct officers have been stationed out of a downtown location.

While no plan for the site of the burned station has been made, the council vowed not to use the location for any police-related purposes as a part of their vote on July 20.

Crews suggested the site be turned into a memorial for victims of police brutality or used for housing.

Chavez said the city needs to move away from the site of the burned station so the community can heal and move forward.

“It’s time to close this chapter so our community can begin to heal and so they can decide what non-police functions of Lake and Minnehaha will look like,” Chavez said in the statement.

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