Four panelists of Latino descent sat before a crowd of fifty local residents in a small space at a Minneapolis Turtle Bread Company on October 27 to talk about what attracts Latino community members to south Minneapolis. Catalina Salas, Principal at Green Central School, Monica Romero of the Latino Economic Development Corporation, Mario Colloly Torres, Central neighborhood resident and retail worker’s rights activist, and Jill Garcia, Field neighborhood resident and community and political activist, told the audience that the Latino families feel safe and secure in south Minneapolis.
The Star Tribune’s Steve Brandt, who moderated the discussion, said the Central neighborhoods have the highest concentration of Latino residents by percentage in the state.
Jill Garcia, Field neighborhood resident and community and political activist, said one of the reasons that the Latino community is increasing in south Minneapolis is because of the proximity of public transportation.
“If you don’t have a car, and you have children and parents working, then you have a backup public transit,” Garcia, who was one of the panelists, told the audience.
Last month, in a conversation similar to the one on Thursday, the group discussed the trend of African-Americans moving from south Minneapolis neighborhoods into suburban communities.
Government programs provide low-income, black families with subsidized housing in the suburban areas, Rick Heimark said of the reasons African-Americans move out of south Minneapolis.
“The Black population in Central neighborhoods dropped by more than 1,200 in the last decade while Latino population grew by almost 1,800,” Jennifer White of the City of Minneapolis said in a statement.
Garcia said there were very few Latino families and Latino-owned businesses in south Minneapolis just about 15 years ago.
“But as time went on, there are more and more Latino families and businesses in the central part of the city,” she said.
After listening to the panelists speak about how the community ended up in Minneapolis and the success of businesses they’ve established in the city, Jim Wejcman of south Minneapolis noted the Latinos’ hard work and thanked the community for transforming the businesses along Lake Street.
During the ‘70s and ‘80s, bookstores that sold pornography and a theater that showed porno moves dominated the businesses along Lake Street, Wejcman told the crowd. Then, Latinos came and “started opening these restaurants and clothing stores, [which] kept on developing all the way down the street on Lake Street. This has been very telling for south Minneapolis and Minneapolis in general.”