The Potluck

Protesters block Minneapolis council member’s car until she agrees to 6 demands

By: - June 29, 2021 10:16 am

Minneapolis Council Member Andrea Jenkins’ vehicle was blocked by activists Sunday and not allowed to leave until she agreed to sign off on six demands, including a demand that Mayor Jacob Frey resign. Screenshot from a video posted to Facebook by activist D.J. Hooker

A group of Minneapolis activists blocked Minneapolis Council Member Andrea Jenkins’ car from leaving a parking lot Sunday night until she agreed to six of their demands, on video and in writing — including a call for Mayor Jacob Frey’s resignation.

A Facebook Live video captured part of the incident at Loring Park, where a Taking Back Pride march ended Sunday; marchers called for an end to police at Pride festivals, protection of Black trans people and community control over police.

D.J. Hooker, an activist who is involved with Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (Clark), narrates a 23-minute long video in which he said Jenkins — the first Black, openly transgender woman elected to public office in the U.S. — came to the event “for a photo op,” and he confronted her about community control of the police.

“She blew up at me, in my face,” he said on the video. “Someone got in between us; she went around them to jump in my face again, and yelled at me and then she stormed off to this car.”

He said they’d been blocking the white Kia in which she was a passenger for an hour-and-a-half before the video started. 

“She has been mean. She has been rude. Her friend or partner has called the cops on us already,” Hooker said, prompting Jenkins to say of the people blocking her car, “Like this ain’t f***in’ white supremacy right here.”  

Hooker told the Reformer police cars drove by “every once in awhile” during the two hours Jenkins was being blocked, but never stopped. Asked whether police were called, Minneapolis Police spokesman John Elder said in an email, “Loring Park is not our jurisdiction. It is the oversight of the Minneapolis Park Police.”

Hooker then read — through a bullhorn — a half-dozen demands, some of which Jenkins has no control over, such as dropping charges against protesters and releasing more information on Winston Smith’s police shooting death. 

One of them was a call for the mayor’s immediate resignation, which prompted Jenkins to laugh and say, “I’m really laughin’ ’cause this is ridiculous.” 

After being pressed by Hooker and the crowd, eventually Jenkins said, unconvincingly, “Jacob Frey resign.” 

But Jenkins seemed most angered by a demand that she “leave George Floyd Square alone,” saying angrily, “Bring me some Chipotle cause’ I’m sittin’ here all f***in’ night.”

“Don’t do my job — is that what you’ve asked me to do?” she told the activists. “I was elected to represent the neighborhood.”

Jenkins lives near the intersection where Floyd was killed by police outside Cup Foods and has pushed to reopen the square, saying people and business owners who live there want it open. A group called Meet on the Street has controlled the four-block autonomous zone since Floyd’s death, when barricades were erected around the site. They have been in negotiations with the city over some two dozen demands, including a $159 million investment into the neighborhood over a decade.

At one point, the driver of Jenkins’ car got into a spat with a protester and flipped her off. In response to one activist’s comment, Jenkins said angrily “Thank you Mr. White Man.” 

Jenkins eventually relented and said, “Fine, I’ll leave George Floyd Square alone and not do my job” even though it might mean a “national monument will not happen.” 

Hooker eventually got Jenkins to sign — although it looked more like scribbling — a piece of paper with six demands, and then print her name and date it.

“I ain’t never ran from none of this shit,” Jenkins said, clearly antagonized. “I ran to represent people. That’s what I did.” She challenged the activists to do the same.

After Jenkins was finally allowed to leave, Hooker said getting Jenkins to sign the demands was the best Pride present ever, but acknowledged on the video, “We’ll see if she actually follows through with them.” 

Hooker told the Reformer Tuesday he doubts Jenkins will stand by her signature, but she needs to stop coming out for photo ops if she doesn’t support the cause.

“She was probably just trying to get out of there,” he said.

Jenkins released a statement on Facebook Tuesday night saying she’s always believed in open dialogue where people can talk and be respectful about their differences, but she refuses to be “bullied and held hostage to somehow accomplish that.”

“Every citizen of this city has a right to bring forward their concerns, but no citizen has the right to detain and coerce anyone to do anything, that includes elected officials,” she wrote.

As for the mayor, she said voters will decide who leads the city in November, and she will continue to keep George Floyd Square a “sacred place” but said it’s time to stop holding Black-owned businesses and neighbors hostage.

This story was updated at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday to add Jenkins’ public statement about the incident.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.