Police Divestment Activists Blockade Minneapolis Mayor’s Residence During Super Bowl Week

Minneapolis, MN – With Super Bowl LII three days away, dozens of community members blockaded the streets around Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s condo to implore the mayor to divest resources from the police and invest into communities. Protesters dropped a banner that read “Frey, Cops ≠ Safety” and left signs encouraging police divestment in front of Frey’s residence. No arrests were made.

During rush hour traffic in one of the busiest intersections in Northeast Minneapolis, two rented vans parked into a ‘V’ shape on Hennepin Avenue blocking traffic from University Avenue. Two more vans blocked traffic on 4th St. while marshals in vests formed a soft blockade and directed traffic on University Ave and Surdyk’s parking lot.

Unicorn Riot was live in temperatures peaking at 6 degrees Fahrenheit to cover the action organized by Black Visions Collective, “a Black-led organization committed to creating a world where all Black Lives Matter“. Watch the stream below:

A bus driver for Metro Transit briefly attempted to drive through the crowd on University Ave. as he yelled through the window for people to move. The marshals told him to re-route his bus one block and that they weren’t going to move. The bus driver called the police, then parked the bus in the middle of University Ave, facing northeast, bringing traffic to a standstill.

Standing around signs saying “Divest From Police – Invest in Us” and “How the City Spends our Tax Dollars – $179 million on Police, $15 million on Affordable Housing“, activists rapped divestment messages over hip-hop beats and chanted for divestment while some danced and others blocked traffic.

Police arrived to the blockaded intersection about twenty minutes after the action started, spoke with some of the protesters, and redirected traffic. The bus was then re-routed and higher ranking Minneapolis Police officers descended on the scene.

The blockade was finished by 5:30 p.m., about an hour after it started, as dozens of people packed back into several large white vans and drove away. The police stopped one of the vans from leaving and logged the van drivers identification. During this time, one of the officers then said to the driver “did you tell the rental company that we’re gonna use these vehicles to block roads?” to which the driver replied, “I’m not sure what to tell you.

Before the the van and its passengers were let go, another officer told the driver that the rental would likely be towed next time because “this is the second time in two days that this van has been used in the City of Minneapolis to obstruct roadways, okay. That will not be tolerated.

The day before, on Wednesday, January 31, a rent strike action happened in South Minneapolis, where renters from long disputed rental properties of the Apartment Shop stopped paying rent to the landlord. The strike was organized by Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia (United Renters for Justice), a “group by renters for renters in Minneapolis, MN to create better housing in our city“.

The police divestment action at Jacob Frey’s residence was just the latest in a long line of recent protests against police brutality. The Twin Cities have seen many high profile police killings in the last several years. Protest movements grew out of  the police killings of Fong Lee, Terrance Franklin, Marcus Golden, Phil QuinnJamar Clark (which led to the 18-day long protest encampment at the 4th Precinct), Michael KirvelayPhilando Castile (which led to 20-days of protest at and around the Governor’s mansion), Cordale Handy, Justine Damond, and many more.

Many of the killings have been by the St. Paul Police Department, which prompted Black Lives Matter Minnesota to issue a travel alert on February 1, warning people of color to “exercise caution” when traveling to St. Paul.

“Black Lives Matter Minnesota has issued a travel alert, effective today, for African Americans and other people of color traveling to St. Paul, Minnesota for Super Bowl 52 events or other purposes, to warn African Americans and people of color to exercise caution as safety and well-being risks may be presented by St. Paul Police and/or St. Paul Police K9.” – Black Lives Matter Minnesota Release

In the release, they list several incidents of misconduct by St. Paul police officers and then state:

This travel alert will remain in effect until African-Americans and people of color have equal protection under new laws, by which, police experience real consequences and appropriate penalties for misconduct.

Security is at an all-time high in Minneapolis, as National Guard in Humvees block off roadways. (Photo taken 2.1.18)

With Super Bowl LII in town, Minnesota is in the middle of its largest security operation in history. There are still several protests planned for Friday and this weekend as well as the two-day Take a Knee Conference.

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Unicorn Riot reporting on Super Bowl LII:
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