During the meeting, four women, including a teenager and an elderly woman were arrested and escorted out by Minneapolis Park Police officers. The four arrested were among dozens who attended the meeting to express concerns and opposition to a proposed agreement with the Loppet Foundation to take on fulltime management of Theodore Wirth Park in North Minneapolis.
“Whenever people of color and their allies rise up against oppression, they’re met with a law enforcement presence,” said Jason Sole, chair of the Minneapolis NAACP Criminal Justice Reform Committee, in a statement.“At a time when people are demanding a livable wage, the park board chooses to silence our voices through arrests and trumped up charges. Our parks and recreational centers should be places of refuge but they continue to be places of oppression.”
According to Anita Tabb, president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the members escorted out and arrested continually disrupted the meeting and were repeatedly warned if they continued to do so it would result in ejection.
“The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a long history of protecting First Amendment rights, fostering safe protests and gatherings for expression of First Amendment rights, and providing the public with an opportunity to share comments and concerns with commissioners at the beginning of every board meeting during a designated open time,” said Tabb in a statement.
She said there are well-established rules and processes related to open time and these rules have been shared with community members since May.
“However, over the last several months community members have been vocally disrupting board meetings outside of the open time period, and several members have been increasingly verbally disrespectful of speakers that do not share their views,” said Tabb in her statement.“During the last 13 meetings, there has been a need to temporarily recess board meetings six times due to these disruptions. At the Sept. 7 meeting, audience members received multiple warnings that those who engaged in disruptive behavior would be removed from the room and subject to arrest.”
She said while the call for arrests is consistent with state and city law she had hoped to avoid taking that step.
“I am very disheartened that it has come to this point,” said Tabb.
Those arrested included Rosemary Nevils, Emily Flower, Davina Newman and Raeisha Williams.
The Minneapolis NAACP is demanding an apology from MPRB for the arrests and asking that all trespassing charges against the NAACP members be immediately dropped. It is also calling for the resignation of MPRB Superintendent Jane Miller and cancellation of any agreement with the Loppet Foundation to privatize Theodore Wirth Park.