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Legislators launch effort to remove slavery reference from Minnesota Constitution

Plus: authorities say Becker car fire under control; Keillor event at Women’s Club called off; I-35W closure planned for weekend; and more.

Minnesota State Capitol
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Who could oppose this? The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried reports: “A group of legislators announced an effort Thursday to remove a reference to slavery from the Minnesota Constitution. … St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell made a resolution in a New Year’s Eve Facebook post to bring awareness to a part of the state constitution that refers to slavery when it comes to punishment for a crime. … The Minnesota Constitution states, ‘there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.’ … At a press conference at the Capitol Thursday, Axtell said, ‘People who are paying their debt to society should not be viewed and should be not treated as if they’re slaves. Words matter, Minnesota and we can do better.’”

This fire is … under control. The Star Tribune’s Dan Browning reports: “Firefighters worked through the night to control a two-day-old blaze at the Northern Metal automobile recycling yard in Becker, Minn., and authorities said Thursday morning that they believe the blaze is finally contained. … Becker Police Chief Brent Baloun said in a news release that crews made a fire break to separate debris piles and to allow part of a giant stack of junked and crushed vehicles to burn out.”

Keillor canceled. City Pages’ Hannah Jones reports: “The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis has been planning a fundraiser for the end of the month. … The club’s 630-seat historic theater could use some renovations. The agenda of the night was dinner and a ‘rare performance,’ according to the Facebook event, featuring soprano Maria Jette, pianist Dan Chouinard, and former radio host Garrison Keillor. … The longtime host of A Prairie Home Companion got the boot from Minnesota Public Radio after he was accused of ‘inappropriate behavior’ with a colleague. … In a report that aired Wednesday, WCCO said the Woman’s Club would release a ‘statement’ about Keillor’s planned appearance some time today. The station didn’t have to wait that long: an update to the online version of the story said the event had been ‘called off.’

We missed these closures. The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow reports: “It’s only February, but the first major road construction-related closing is on tap for the weekend as part of I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis will shut down Friday night to Saturday morning. … The northbound lanes of I-35W between Crosstown Hwy. 62 and Interstate 94 will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday until 6 a.m. Saturday. The Minnesota Department of Transportation will move a large crane and drill into the area between 40th and 42nd streets where the agency this summer will install six underground tanks as part of a drainage improvement project, said spokesman David Aeikens.”

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