Jump to my 11 point plan
Racial justice is a complex topic, but one we in Robbinsdale must address and must address with care. Policing, environmental policy, the minimum wage, renters' rights, housing policy, transit, access to affordable medical care including abortion -- many issues that affect Robbinsdale have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. I have worked to reduce disparities as a volunteer, as an elected member of Cleveland Neighborhood Association Board in North Minneapolis for 6 years, as an appointed member of our Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission, and in my professional career. I now ask for your vote to continue disparity reduction work on City Council as Ward 3 City Council Member.
I have formed the following policies in an attempt to make our city more fair and equitable. If you have ideas for how to address this complex topic, let's work together!
Black Lives Matter
My 11 Point Plan:
1 ) Ban Hairstyle Discrimination.
People of color -- especially women of color -- are forced to spend a lot of time and money conforming to societal ideals of hair and beauty standards. To change that, The CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair - www.thecrownact.com) or similar legislation is being passed around the country. Seventeen states including California, New York, and even Nebraska have passed legislation that protects people from discrimination based upon their hair texture, natural hairstyles, or protective hairstyles. Our Minnesota representatives have not passed these protections yet at our state level, so just like we banned conversion "therapy" torture in Robbinsdale, I am calling for us to implement these anti-discrimination protections at our city level.
2 ) Police Documentation
I serve on the Robbinsdale Human Rights Commission. At a Commission meeting earlier this year, we met with police officers to see how to advise the City Council on reducing actual or perceived police bias. I asked how they document demographic data of the people they interact with. Currently, our officers do not document that information unless they write someone a citation, because that system requires demographic data. They further mentioned that in order to fully document, they need software from Hennepin County. I will work to get them that software or an alternative. During the League of Women Voters of Minnesota forum, this was my answer when asked what was one thing I would add to the city. We need the police to document their interactions with marginalized communities so we can determine if they are serving and protecting all of the public as they should.
3 ) Police Reforms
Far too often, we see a warrior culture in policing when what we need are protectors who protect and serve all of the public. I have heard anecdotally while door knocking that our police department is better than Minneapolis' MPD but I have also listened as voters recall events in vivid detail that indicate racial profiling is an issue here in Robbinsdale as well. Once the police department starts documenting the data from police interactions, we can see where we are at and then form appropriate metrics to meet and determine tactics such as training and procedures. "No Knock" warrants and overnight raids should be banned unless absolutely necessary on a case by case basis.
4 ) Public Searchable Database
I want to partner to start a public searchable database of officer misconduct records for our metro area and eventually the state -- similar to the one in New York state -- that will bring more accountability and keep the "bad apples" from just going a couple of towns over. The good officers will be able to point to their clear records and it will help us know who to hire and retain.
5 ) Crime Diversion and Prevention
Programs like the wraparound services from the Robbinsdale school system, after school or summer programs, and activities help keep people out of the criminal justice system and avoid tearing families apart. For unhoused people or those at risk of being unhoused, we need to work with Hennepin County to provide or retain housing and get them the services they need. It is cheaper and we get better outcomes housing the unhoused than ignoring the problem. Those who don't have a steady place to stay are especially vulnerable to being abused/harmed, trafficked, etc.
6 ) De-Escalation
It should be the goal of everyone -- especially the police -- to de-escalate situations that are dangerous or that could become dangerous. Firing weapons should be a last resort. We need people on the police department staff who specialize in de-escalation so that when they respond to emergencies, they use the best practice techniques to resolve situations without violence if possible. We cannot have more tragedies on our conscience.
7 ) Enforcement
We need more safety for all of us in Robbinsdale. Crime has increased during the pandemic, in part due to the Minneapolis Police Department's refusal to properly protect and serve North Minneapolis. The programs in Minneapolis that kept people out of the system were defunded decades ago. On normal days, there are only four cops in the entire area of North Minneapolis, and if you do need them they could show up in an hour or just now show up at all. People are left to try to resolve their issues on their own. With roughly 1,000 residences on or near West Broadway, those living in densely populated areas of Ward 3 were the most likely to mention safety as their top concern to me. I heard safety from people across the economic spectrum, and from people of various races. We have work to do building trust between the police and marginalized communities, both with documentation and reforms to make sure that the police are protecting and serving all of the public. It will take effort and time, but we must do so and reduce crime.
8 ) Police Staffing and Training
Over the past few years, the Robbinsdale police have been understaffed and haven't been enforcing traffic, our noise ordinance, or other laws enough. Being understaffed also makes it more difficult to find time for the training on topics like racial bias and LGBTQIA they need to be the best at their jobs. I want to make sure they have the training and procedures they need to protect and serve all of the public.
9 ) Revise Crime-Free Housing Ordinance
We need to revise our Crime-Free Housing ordinance that is used to target marginalized communities. It was written so poorly and so expansively that the police can force landlords to evict people and there is no recourse. Being evicted puts people in a far more vulnerable position. Meanwhile, when it comes to homeowners, the ordinance calls for a slap on the wrist fine. Renters are disproportionately people of color, so this ordinance has the effect of furthering systemic racism, and that must change.
10 ) Amend the City Charter
Amend the City Charter to allow those with felony convictions to serve as elected officials. Various politically motivated states have worked to make it a felony to protest against injustice and systemic racism, to help someone get the medical care (including abortion) that they need, or take other non-violent actions. Those laws are intended to scare people into silence and to oppress women and those who can become pregnant and marginalized communities. Due to that context, we should change the City Charter to empower voters to decide whether or not to elect someone with a felony conviction after they have served their sentence and made restitution. People can -- and do -- turn their lives around, and I think it should be up to voters to decide.
11 ) Honor Philando Castile in Robbinsdale
The city of Robbinsdale should honor the life of Philando Castile, and the Human Rights Commission on which I serve has sought to honor him in a city park. Philando Castile was a beloved cafeteria supervisor at an elementary school in Saint Paul, and his death in 2016 at the hands of the St. Anthony Police Department was inhumane, it was wrong, and that the system let the officer get away with it added insult to injury. Philando lived in Robbinsdale earlier in his life with his mother, Valerie Castile, who now runs the Philando Castile Relief Foundation. The foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based here in Birdtown, and the foundation has donated thousands of dollars to clear the lunch debts for students in Philando's honor and provides support to those who have lost loved ones to violence.
My policies would benefit Robbinsdale overall, but especially people of color, including:
- Environmental policies - See my 10 point plan
- $15 minimum wage
- Renters' Commission - See my proposal
- Support for the right to choose and our Robbinsdale Clinic - See my 6 point plan
- Support for the Blue Line Extension and transit - See my 11 asks from the county
I fully believe that Black Lives Matter, and that unless you believe that Black Lives Matter you don't believe that "all lives" do. I pledge to do what I can to make our city more fair and equitable for our communities of color.
What do you think? How do you think we should protect our communities of color in Robbinsdale?
How do you think we should protect our communities of color in Robbinsdale?