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Ramsey County and St. Paul co-create immigrant legal defense program

Also: Stopping invasive phragmites; MPD considers buying Super Bowl surveillance cameras; Legislature mulls law enforcement’s use of drones; and more.

Downtown St. Paul and 35E at dusk
Downtown St. Paul
MinnPost file photo by Rita Kovtun

“The community is suffering.” Shannon Prather at the Star Tribune reports Ramsey County and St. Paul are joining forces to create an immigrant legal defense program: “St. Paul City Attorney Lyndsey Olson said that both the city and county were looking for ways to support immigration services, ‘so it seemed natural for us to come together and discuss ways to partner on that.’ Olson added that St. Paul is in the process of hiring a full-time immigration support services attorney who will advise city officials on immigration issues and be the point person for the collaboration with the county.”

Bad grass. Dan Gunderson at MPR News calls attention to an invasive grass potentially spreading across Minnesota wetlands: “Phragmites — which rhymes with Aphrodite’s — can have a significant impact on wetlands if it spreads unchecked. ‘For example, in coastal marsh systems over time, it can turn a wetland with a lot of good hydrologic connectivity into something that’s more like a meadow,’ [MAISRC scientist Dan] Larkin said. ‘It can really engineer the ecosystem.'”

Who’s been using them since the Super Bowl? KSTP-TV has a piece on the Minneapolis Police Department considering the purchase of surveillance cameras put up for last year’s Super Bowl: “Verizon installed 17 cameras around downtown for free and now the company is offering to sell them to the city. Police say the cameras help prevent crime. ‘Certainly folks are aware that those cameras are out there,’ Minneapolis Police Commander Scott Gerlicher said. ‘They are going to be less likely, logic would say, to commit a crime of any type knowing they are potentially being watched on video.'”

In related news: Also by Dan Gunderson, the Minnesota Legislature is discussing limitations on the use of drones by law enforcement: “Bills in the House and the Senate would require investigators to get a search warrant before they use a drone to monitor someone. … ‘We’re trying to limit the investigation of innocent people with technology where it’s not necessarily warranted,’ [Rep. John Lesch] said. ‘I think it’s Americans’ appreciation of our privacy rights that is really paramount and [that’s] why we’re pushing the legislation.'”

History is not the past. It is the present. Helen Sabrowsky at the Minnesota Daily takes us back 50 years to a landmark student sit-in at Morrill Hall: “Fifty years ago, a group of University of Minnesota students met with then-University President Malcolm Moos to present a list of demands: establishment of an Afro-American studies program, funding for a black conference and development of a Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship. Unsatisfied with their meeting, the students entered an administrative office in Morrill Hall, permitting people to leave but not enter. The 24-hour takeover ended with the University agreeing to the students’ demands, which led to the creation of the Department of African American and African Studies, funding for the black conference and increased support for black students on campus.”

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Hooray: “Minnesota Weather: This February Is The 4th Snowiest Month In Minnesota History” [WCCO]

Away game: “United ready for season opener Saturday” [KSTP]

Milk truck thief unaccounted for: “A black-and-white case? Man accused of swiping truck stuffed with Oreos outside Fargo grocery store” [Duluth News Tribune]

Listen to women: “25 years ago, then-Twin Cities-based R&B group Ashanti called out R. Kelly” [City Pages]

Business unusual: “A very merry Christmas at Best Buy with sales booming” [Rochester Post Bulletin]

Business as usual: “Best Buy announces $3 billion buyback plan, shares spike” [Business Insider]