Public Meeting About Cedar-Riverside Revitalization Project Shut Down by Protesters


Minneapolis officials hosted an open house Friday night to solicit feedback on a project that would help boost the economy and reduce crime in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, but the meeting was shut down by disgruntled protesters.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Council Member Abdi Warsame, who were both in attendance at Friday night’s meeting, say the project is still in the early stages of development.

“So much of this vision is still to be created. This could be everything from affordable housing, to small entrepreneur space to allow small and local businesses to scale a great idea faster,” Frey told reporters after he was escorted out of the Brian Coyle Community Center, where the meeting was held.

According to the city’s website, the “Africa Village Public Market Project” would be a 93,000 square foot cultural area and would replace a “parking lot which has a history of crime and public safety issues.”

The project would include a “mix of affordable and market-rate housing,” offices, a clinic, and youth programming space, some of which would be housed in a 10-story building planned for the site.

Friday night’s protesters, however, have a number of objections to the project and shut down the meeting with their demonstration.

Star Tribune reporter Miguel Otarola was on the ground and reported that protesters began chants of “we are not for sale” and “people over profits.”

“Stop gentrifying South Minneapolis,” said one protester’s sign.

Frey reportedly left the gymnasium just minutes after arriving when protesters took over the microphone.

Warsame, who represents the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on the Minneapolis City Council, attempted to calm down the protesters, but his efforts were futile.

The councilman told The Star Tribune after the event that he was “disappointed” by the protesters whom he believes are “trying to hijack the narrative.”

“This area is going to get built regardless. Either it’s intentionally built with us, or it’s built with other people in mind. That’s the one thing I’m afraid of,” he added.

A group of Somali mothers told Otarola that they believe the new development would bring more crime to the neighborhood, and instead would like to see the city place more of an emphasis on youth activities.

Business owners in the area are concerned that the project will harm them financially, while others feel like they were simply left out of the conversation.

“This is the nature of the process. You involve a community, you hear different perspectives and then you figure out the best pathway forward,” Frey said.

Chris Meyer, a commissioner for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, wrote on Twitter that the “new African market would be such a better use than a surface parking lot.”

The city plans to break ground on the project in early 2021.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Cedar-Riverside Protests” by Miguel Otarola. 







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