Minneapolis neighborhood that vowed not to call cops loses sleep as homeless camp turns into drug peddling zone
A neighborhood in Minnesota, Minneapolis where multiple residents had vowed not to call police on people after George Floyd's death, is reportedly facing law and order issues after nearly 300 homeless people set camp in a local park. The community where Floyd died in police custody on May 25 had initially welcomed dozens of tents to Powderhorn Park while the displaced people looked for permanent accommodation. People had reportedly urged authorities to not evict the homeless from the park.
However, residents around the park over the past two weeks have reportedly complained about a heavy flow of traffic keeping them up at night and are worried about drug dealers in the area. Reports state that at least two people in the encampment have already been rushed away in ambulances after overdosing. A resident, Joseph Menkevich, found a man wearing a hospital bracelet passed out in an elevator in his apartment building last week and called 911. Menkevich, however, told the New York Times, that when police showed up for the overdose victim, the call did not have the outcome he thought it would.
"It didn't resolve in a way that I had hoped," Menkevich said. "All they did was offer to bring him back to the hospital. He refused, so they kicked him out on a rainy night." The incident occurred amid increasing calls across the country to defund the police and inject nearly $115 billion budget into essential areas like substance abuse treatment, affordable housing, and job training.
The tents at Powderhorn Park began appearing shortly after the homeless people were evicted from their accommodation at the Sheraton hotel nearly two weeks ago. They were given a temporary accommodation in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak at the hotel. According to the Star Tribune, there were at least 200 tents in the park till last Friday. As city officials look into their placements, they have instated a shower trailer, toilets and trash cans in the park temporarily. Meanwhile, locals have also been providing the campers with masks, medical care, and counseling.
The camp, however, has now become the subject of a community message board. A 34-year-old local resident, Tobie Miller, expressed concerns that the board could be racial profiling. "My feeling around it is those are symptoms of systemic oppression," Miller said about the "illegal activity" like drug peddling, going on within the park. "And that's not on them."
One woman, while talking to the outlet, said that she does not feel it is safe for her children to play in the park anymore. While another admitted that although she is thinking of how uncomfortable she feels about some of the campers in her area, she is also checking her privilege. One woman told the Times that catcalling has also become an issue in the area.
The outlet also reported of five women who met to complain about the camp recently. At least four of the women were white. On the other hand, the Mexican-Native American neighbor said that she does not believe the locals in the area will allow the camp to remain in the park for long.
A black woman, who has a long-time policy of not calling the police, said that it is only a matter of time when the residents go back to calling police amid increasing issues as they lack other alternatives.