As I look back on this year, I recognize that our city hasn’t stopped hurting. Minneapolis has experienced an unprecedented amount of trauma. We started the year trying to survive through a historic and global pandemic. Later, we suffered the inhumane loss of the life of George Floyd. The deep pain and grief caused by the killing of Floyd, tugging on centuries old patterns of state violence, remains an open wound in our city today. After this loss, came the burning. On its own, the swift destruction of la Calle Lake is worth a sea of tears. Now, imagine how the people of Lake Street feel when this incident goes unnamed in over 14 hours of a public hearing.
As a city leader, I’m aware that City Council members are treated as the layer of government that is expected to hold this collective trauma. I believe that our position also calls on us to register the different ways that this trauma plays out in the daily lives of the diverse people who call Minneapolis home. I don’t seek to judge these diverse experiences; I do find myself pulled in to understand them.
I believe that seeking to understand how these injustices and inequalities are being lived out in myriad ways in the lives of every Minneapolitan is important because, as an organizer, I understand the value of meeting each other where we are. When I can better understand how an issue that I care about impacts you, it allows me to learn how to build a more inclusive path toward repairing the systemic harms that have been done. Through the process of repairing we can begin to heal. In healing, our community can find more moments of strength and togetherness. We will need this resilience to survive the next set of challenges.
I trust the healing power of being heard and coming together. One way that I as a council member can demonstrate that I am aware, listening, and working to help bring people together is by integrating our city’s diverse voices into our budget. On Wednesday night, working together through the night and through the differences being echoed throughout our city, the council approved a $1.5 billion budget that meets residents where they are and advances us toward healing and racial justice. The Minneapolis budget has series of key racial equity investments proposed by Mayor Jacob Frey such as $5.5 million dollars for the Commercial Property Redevelopment fund and a $300,000 fund to work toward reconciliation, economic inclusion, and transformational racial healing which will help the area where the Third Precinct burned down and support 38th and Chicago. We also approved the mayor’s proposed $375,000 in capital improvements for the 38th and Chicago intersection and supported a projected $4.75 million from 2021 to 2023 for establishing a memorial for George Floyd.
On public safety specifically, we have heard from thousands of residents across the city about the deep complexity of the moment we are in as we continue to cultivate the seeds of reimagining our public safety systems. In order to respond to this moment, I chose to honor the priorities of various voices. I voted to support a proposal led by Council President Lisa Bender that added $2.3 million dollars to Frey’s $2.9 million investment in the Office of Violence Prevention. In light of the dramatic increase in gun violence that people of color have experienced this summer, I also voted to support the residents who rely on the help of police officers to access this emergency response at the level of 888 staffed personnel, instead of 750.
Yet this public safety budget vote is dwarfed by the momentous task ahead of us – how do we bring our city together outside of the mechanics of a single budget vote? Representing the city’s most racially integrated ward means that I am invited to see, hear, and feel the different ways this year’s trauma and violence is showing up in diverse spaces. The dissonance is too much to pretend that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, and normalizing or ignoring the rise in gun violence in our city is unhealthy. While we continue to move forward to reimagine and rebuild our public safety systems, I think it’s important that we step out of press conferences and protests to ensure that we’re taking the time to meet each other where we are. When we do this, we can better understand how to build a more inclusive and resilient movement.
It is through this reaching out that we can demonstrate the end doesn’t justify the means. In this deeply complex moment where violence and safety are in a daily dual and communities of color pay the price, what should not matter most is how fast you can make it to the finish line. What matters most is that we give enough care and attention to ensure the diverse communities of our city make it there together.
Alondra Cano represents the Ninth Ward on the Minneapolis City Council.
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