By Michael K. Browne, Director — Office of Police Conduct Review
On August 6, the Civil Rights staff and Urban Scholars visited the communities of Audubon, Corcoran and North Minneapolis to attend National Night Out block parties. National Night Out is an annual nationwide event that encourages residents to get out in the community, holding block parties and getting to know their neighbors as a way to encourage crime prevention. The Department’s participation included distributing flash lights to kids, wristbands and department brochures.
The Audubon neighborhood closed off traffic from 29th and Hayes to 35th and Ulysses so that neighborhood residents could enjoy potluck dinners and kid activities. Each potluck had sweet treats, and grills cooking brats and burgers. Employees from the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights enjoyed a parade with children on different bikes or roller blades throwing candy into the air as well as talking to the residents about the free services provided by the Department.
Over in the Corcoran neighborhood, Civil Rights employees visited with residents from the surrounding blocks at Corcoran Park. Department staff briefly discussed the resources offered throughout the various divisions, highlighting the different ways to initiate the complaint filing process.
At Heritage Park in North Minneapolis, attending three large events, Department employees met with people from a wide array of backgrounds and were able to share more news about the Department’s processes and mission. While snapping pictures at Heritage Park, Police Conduct Review staff ran into Police Chief Janeé Harteau. Civil Rights employees also had the opportunity to visit with Mayor R.T. Rybak while watching performances put on by neighborhood children. Kids played on stilts while preparing a dragon show performance including a drum accompaniment. The show was a huge hit with residents and a wonderful way for children to be involved in National Night Out festivities. Party-goers loved the Police Conduct Oversight Commission lime green wristband and bookmark giveaways.
Some of the Civil Rights employees also had a chance to meet with teenagers and young adults to discuss positive interactions with police, including how to file a complaint if a citizen feels police misconduct may have occurred. This opportunity to listen to residents brought about more awareness of the Office of Police Conduct Review and safer ways to handle situations that involve the police.
Staff from the Civil Rights Department enjoyed the opportunity to make positive connections with community members while supporting the strength of Minneapolis’s neighborhoods.