Municipal IDs could shape the future of immigrant rights in Minneapolis

A new form of identification –  municipal identification – will soon be implemented in Minneapolis. It is possibly a life-changing move for thousands in the metro area. Municipal identification is not a nascent thing, but rather a local, albeit legal identification that’s taken hold in large and small cities across the country, from Los Angeles to New York City and even to Northfield, Minnesota. On just a single page on the city of Minneapolis’ website, municipal IDs have certainly become part of the political lexicon, after nearly a decade of grassroots advocacy. The page begins with the declaration that, in order to show we are “One Minneapolis,” municipal IDs will “further advance the City’s racial equity goals.” The IDs, the page explains, “will connect Minneapolis residents to services, programs and benefits, regardless of immigration status, homelessness or gender identity.”

That the use of IDs now stand to be codified into law comes on the heels of years of hard work by a broad coalition of immigrant activist groups and community organizations collaborating with the city’s Neighborhood and Community Relations. Continue Reading

Tapping immigrant roots to side-step traditional food business models

“Hustling is in our blood,” Chef Yia Vang said. “I’m not doing anything different than what my parents and my grandparents were doing in Laos and Thailand.”

Vang operates Union Kitchen, a Hmong American pop-up restaurant, alongside his cousin Chris Her. Like many immigrant food business owners, Vang’s culinary journey had humble beginnings. What started out as cooking phở in garages at church-sponsored backyard parties four years ago evolved into a pop-up restaurant just shy of two years old, now having found temporary residency outside of Sociable Cider Werks in northeast Minneapolis. Similar to Union Kitchen, Donburi is a pop-up Japanese restaurant offering up rice bowls, poke bowls and fresh sashimi. Continue Reading

The view from here: what immigration attorneys who are immigrants themselves are seeing

Within the immigration system, lawyers “are the only ones between [the clients and] absolute chaos,” said Maya Okafor (name changed to protect her identity), a former immigration attorney. “They’re the only ones standing in the way.”

Okafor discussed being a target. The current administration is “looking for attorneys who are breaking the rules. They’re calling us ‘dirty attorneys’ who are helping people do bad things,” Okafor said, referring to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Oct. 12, 2017 remarks to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Continue Reading

Hennepin County sheriff’s office and the consequences of authority

This piece is part of Twin Cities Daily Planet’s series covering the 2018 elections season. Every year we’re moving towards a possibility of a more diverse legislature. And with it, we hope comes increased opportunities for communities historically shut out of political processes and power to imagine and enact policies to create a Minnesota that benefits all its constituents. Brian Fullman, an organizer with ISAIAH, a multiracial, nonpartisan coalition of faith communities focused on housing and racial equality in Minnesota, wants a sheriff who represents community. “I would like to see somebody who has directly been impacted by immigration or mass incarceration. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 7/19: Corcoran tenants rally for renters’ rights, affordable housing

Recently, tenants of buildings in Corcoran organized a block party and rally to advocate for housing rights and the formation of a tenant-owned co-operative building. Tenants renting with The Apartment Shop, owned by Stephen Frenz, experienced neglected building maintenance, including pests like roaches and mice, mold, and indoor winter temperatures as low as 45 degrees that led to health problems. At the rally, the tenants spoke out in favor of rent control and a tenant bill of rights. “Gentrification is happening all over,” said Bonnie Beckel, a Corcoran resident at the block party who lives just south of the apartments. “There’s no question that they’d do a better job of taking care of their buildings.”

Get full details at MinnPost. Amidst opposition from Native nations, Public Utilities Commission approves Line 3 pipeline route

In a unanimous decision, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to approve the Certificate of Need for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, an oil pipeline that would run from Canada through Minnesota. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 7/11/18: City Council members consider change to charter providing council oversight on police department

Within the current city charter of Minneapolis, the mayor has “complete power over the establishment, maintenance, and command of the police department,” including hiring and firing of officers and chiefs. In response to the recent fatal police shooting of Thurman Blevins, several City Council members expressed interest in modifying the charter to give City Council members oversight on the police department, mitigating the power afforded to the mayor and creating another avenue of accountability. “Right now, we have more oversight of our potholes than we do of our police,” Council Member Andrew Johnson (Ward 12) said. Activists and others have also weighed in on the issue, including Nekima Levy-Pounds. “We want support from the city,” Levy-Pounds said. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 7/5: MPD officers encouraged use of ketamine to sedate suspects

A new report indicates that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has encouraged Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to use ketamine to sedate suspects, even in cases when the individual was already restrained and in cases when there was no evidence of any crime committed. The report states that the use of ketamine on those arrested has increased from three usages in 2012 to 67 in 2017. Ketamine is a powerful sedative drug that creates a trance-like state as well as inducing hallucinations and memory loss. “I would say fairly comfortably based on conversations I’ve had with folks [that] it is Black folks who are ‘noncompliant,’ that are being affected the most,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham. “That’s frustrating.”
Read more at The Spokesman-Recorder. Continue Reading