MPLS businesses cutting MPD ties

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, many Minneapolis businesses, organizations and institutions have dropped ties with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).


Sabrina Merritt

Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police terror, several Minneapolis establishments have cut ties the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

Anika Besst, Senior Reporter

As communities across the world continue fighting for systemic change and racial equality, many local locations have followed in solidarity by changing relationships with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). 

As of June 20th, the growing list of locations making changes included Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB), Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), University of Minnesota (U of M), Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), First Avenue, Walker Arts Center, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Dorsey & Whitney, Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, Pizza Luce, Minnesota Licensing and Up-Down Minneapolis.

“I think it’s important that people in general, but especially businesses that are in communities already over-policed start looking for alternatives to the police,” Hamline sophomore Fatima Menawa said. 

Hamline junior Coby Aloi was impressed by the quick turnaround from certain places, specifically the U of M.

“I believe that the importance of such decisions lies in how you interact, support and love within your community,” Aloi said. 

On May 27th, the U of M President Joan Gabel announced two immediate changes to be implemented related to their MPD relationship. Gabel has directed those responsible to no longer contract with the MPD to fill additional roles of law enforcement at large events, as well as no longer using the MPD for specialized services such as the K-9 Explosive Detective unit.

“[This] shows they listened to their student leaders and acted in what many colleges say they are [founded] in, doing the right thing,” said Aloi. 

The U of M is not the only educational institute to make changes, as MPS made the decision to terminate its contract with the MPD on June 2nd. In the following weeks many followed suit. 

On June 23rd, St. Paul Public Schools joined educational institutions and voted to end their contract with the St. Paul Police Department. This decision removes school resource officers from high schools. 

Changes progressed from educational institutes to businesses, including various art venues.

“The importance is that those businesses are showing solidarity for the Black community publicly. It’s important for the Black community to see that there are businesses that support us and they’re not afraid to show it,” Hamline first-year Hannah Callahan said. 

On June 3rd, First Avenue, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and Walker Art Center announced changing relationships with the MPD. 

On Instagram, the MIA posted an image reading, “Mia has suspended its practice of contracting off-duty Minneapolis Police Department officers.” With a caption stating, “#BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd To clarify, we have ended our contract with off-duty MPD officers.” 

Upon further inquiry, Michaela Baltasar-Feyen, part of the press team, ensured that the MIA has secured its property and building, however, could not disclose information as it could compromise the new security measures. 

In a tweeted photo with the caption of “#GeorgeFloyd #BlackLivesMatter,” First Avenue posted: “The safety of our guests, artists, and staff is paramount. For that reason, First Avenue Productions will not contract security with off-duty officers through the [MPD]… The murder of George Floyd has made it abundantly clear that the presence of off-duty MPD officers at our events will not guarantee the safety of our patrons and does not support our community or our values as an organization.”

Within this post, First Avenue also committed to working with local organizations that will represent, protect and affirm Black and Brown community members.

Likewise, Walker Art Center’s posted on its website, committing to demanding justice and racial equality.

 “The Walker Art Center has a role in the creative and cultural life of this community and, as such, must foster transparency, free speech, and criticality. [We]will continue to foreground the voices of Black artists and historically marginalized artists who light the way to a more just society,” their website stated.

Hennepin Theatre Trust emphasized their future commitment to sharing platforms for the Black community, examining the goal of addressing inequity in their education, partnering with groups to work towards safety solutions in their district, and consulting Black community leaders. Part of this commitment included announcing their discontinued relationship with the MPD on June 5th. 

Similarly, the Minneapolis Orchestra pledged on the same day that they would no longer use MPD at their concerts. 

Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board posted to their website on June 7th stating MPD would no longer be used at park events and a redesigning of Park Police uniforms and vehicles to make their distinction from police clear is underway. 

Minneapolis holds standards for Off Duty Police and Public Safety Requirements relating to what is being served, where it is being hosted and number of the attendees. Minnesota Licensing has ended the requirements for businesses in regards to using off-duty MPD officers at special events. 

I hope that the public along with the MPD realizes that staples of our community will not be complicit in an organization that exhibits racism towards the communities they claim to protect,” said Raina Meyer, Hamline sophomore. 

A number of these businesses and institutions have deadlines for future steps in deciding security and safety measures, some as soon as June 17 ranging to Oct. 1.