The Potluck

Police invited to just 10% of National Night Out events in Minneapolis

By: - August 3, 2021 5:25 pm

A Minneapolis Police Department squad car. Photo by Tony Webster.

National Night Out began in the 1980s with the aim of building relationships between police and the people they serve through small block parties in cities across the country.

But in Minneapolis this year, the vast majority will go on without them. And that’s by choice.

Organizers of just 134 — or about 10% — of the 1,407 registered National Night Out events in Minneapolis said they would like a police officer to visit, according to Minneapolis National Night Out Coordinator Luther Krueger.

The small share of residents who want police at their block parties Tuesday night reflects the city’s shattered relationship with its police force.

Trust and respect for police continue to be at an all-time low following the murder of George Floyd, with voters set to decide this November if the city should dismantle its department altogether and replace it with a new department of public safety. That department will still include police officers but would be under control of the City Council and aim to take a public health approach to safety.

Asked for comment, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder wrote in an email, “We will have our hands full with attending the large number of groups that requested our presence. We will do our best to make it to them all.”

In addition to the largely police-free National Night Out events, activists have organized counter programming, including a “coalition launch” event by the “Yes 4 Minneapolis” campaign — which is driving the effort pass the ballot initiative — as well as a block party near George Floyd Square under the alternative banner of “Night Out for Safety & Liberation.”

Minneapolis was unique in asking event organizers whether or not they would welcome officers to visit. St. Paul and surrounding Twin Cities suburbs didn’t ask organizers if they wanted police to come.

A spokeswoman for Brooklyn Park, for example, said all 155 of that city’s National Night Out events welcome police visits, which is “automatically inferred by virtue of the registration.”

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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.