… A Minneapolis Neighborhood Vowed to Check Its Privilege …


It’s Already Being Tested.

A few weeks ago, dozens of tents appeared in Powderhorn Park in Minneapolis, brought by homeless people who were displaced during the unrest that gripped the city after the death of George Floyd.

Blocks from where George Floyd drew his last breaths, residents have vowed to avoid the police to protect people of color

The commitment is hard to keep.

MINNEAPOLIS — When Shari Albers moved three decades ago into Powderhorn Park, a tree-lined Minneapolis neighborhood known as a haven to leftist activists

and bohemian artists like herself, she went to work sprucing it up.

She became a block club leader, organizing her mostly white neighbors to bring in playgrounds and help tackle longstanding issues with crime.

On many nights, she banged on the car windows of men who had come to solicit prostitutes outside her door, she said.

She kept meticulous notes when dozens of men would gather in a circle for gang meetings in the park across from her house.

After each episode, she called the police.

But times have changed.

After the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police, Ms. Albers, who is white, and many of her progressive neighbors have vowed to avoiD

calling law enforcement into their community.

Doing so, they believed, would add to the pain that black residents of Minneapolis were feeling and could put them in danger.

Already, that commitment is being challenged.

Two weeks ago, dozens of multicolored tents appeared in the neighborhood park.

They were brought by homeless people who were displaced during the unrest that gripped the city.

The multiracial group of roughly 300 new residents seems to grow larger and more entrenched every day.

They do laundry, listen to music and strategize about how to find permanent housing.

Some are hampered by mental illness, addiction or both.

Their presence has drawn heavy car traffic into the neighborhood, some from drug dealers.

At least two residents have overdosed in the encampment and had to be taken away in ambulances.

The influx of outsiders has kept Ms. Albers awake at night.

Though it is unlikely to happen, she has had visions of people from the tent camp forcing their way into her home.

She imagines using a baseball bat to defend herself.

Not being able to call the police, as she has done for decades, has shaken her.

“I am afraid,” she said. “I know my neighbors are around, but I’m not feeling grounded in my city at all. Anything could happen.”

The video of Mr. Floyd’s death and the outcry over racial injustice that came after has awakened many white Americans to a reality

that people of color have known their whole lives:

The scores of police killings they have seen in the news in recent years were not one-off incidents, but part of a systemic problem of the

dehumanization of black people by the police.

In the city where the movement began, residents are not surprised that it is being taken especially seriously in Powderhorn Park,

just blocks from Mr. Floyd’s deadly encounter with the police.

For decades, the community has been a refuge for scrappy working-class activists with far-left politics.

he biggest day of the year, locals often boast, is the May Day parade celebrating laborers.

Though it is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Minneapolis, with black residents making up about 17 percent of the population,

white people make up the largest group. About a third of the population is Latino.

Since the camp appeared, the community has organized shifts for delivering warm meals, medical care and counseling to people living in the park.

They persuaded officials to back off an eviction notice served shortly after the campers arrived.

But many in the neighborhood, who were already beleaguered from the financial stresses of the coronavirus, now say they are eager for the campers to move on

to stable housing away from the park.

“I’m not being judgmental,” said Carrie Nightshade, 44, who explained that she no longer felt comfortable letting her children, 12 and 9,

play in the park by themselves.

“It’s not personal.

It’s just not safe.”

On Friday, she sat in a shared backyard with four other women who live in neighboring houses.

The women, four of whom are white, had called a meeting to vent about the camp.

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