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Judge lifts gag order in criminal case against four former Minneapolis police officers

Plus: activists react to police reform bill passed by Minnesota Legislature; Wilf family, Kevin Garnett among those interested in buying Minnesota Timberwolves; Science Museum of Minnesota lays off more than 150 workers;  and more.

Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao
Hennepin County Jail

Says the AP, “A Minnesota judge on Tuesday lifted a gag order in the criminal case against four former officers charged in the death of George Floyd, but said he would take under advisement a news media coalition’s request to make body camera footage more widely available. Even though the gag order was vacated, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said he expects all attorneys in the case to follow the rules on disclosure of information. In announcing his ruling, Cahill said he agreed with defense attorneys’ arguments that a gag order would be unfair to their clients and limit their ability to defend themselves against negative publicity.”

In the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil writes: “A public hearing Tuesday night was dominated by demands to allow Minneapolis residents to vote on a proposal that could end the city’s Police Department. Of the dozens of people who called in their comments, the vast majority urged the city’s Charter Commission to allow them to vote in November on a divisive proposal that would dramatically reshape public safety in the city.”

At ESPN, Adam Schefter writes: “The Wilf family that owns the Minnesota Vikings has emerged as a serious candidate to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves, NFL sources told ESPN. Only recently did the Wilfs emerge as one of the groups bidding to buy the NBA team in their city from billionaire Glen Taylor, sources said. There are several bidders for the team, including metropolitan New York real estate developer Meyer Orbach, who bought a minority stake in the Timberwolves in 2016. Former Timberwolves standout Kevin Garnett also said he is forming a group to try to purchase the team. But the Wilfs appear to be in a prime spot at this time to buy the Timberwolves, though a decision on the sale might not be made until September, sources said.”

In the Star Tribune, Jennifer Bjorhus and Torey Van Oot write: “Minnesota’s historic police reforms drew varied reactions Tuesday, from mild enthusiasm to disgust, with a common refrain: The state still has a long way to go. A compromise product of a divided state Legislature, the package of policing changes was welcomed as a step in the right direction — but one that falls far short of the sort of transformational change demanded after the police killing of George Floyd. Attorney and activist Nekima Levy Armstrong called the final product “a slap in the face” to Black Minnesotans. And even one police group said the reforms didn’t go far enough.”

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An MPR story, this by Matt Mikus says, “We reached out to a few housing assistance experts to help answer some questions about how to get some rent relief. … There are a number of organizations that can provide rent relief — and if you’re facing a tough financial situation where you can’t afford rent, there are some steps you can take. It’s probably a bit intimidating to make a call to your landlord or mortgage lender to say you won’t be able to cover the bill, but it’s better to give them a heads up rather than come to the day that the payment is due and not be able to pay. There’s a chance you can set up a reduced payment or a payment plan with your landlord, said Randi Callahan, a family advocacy coordinator at Three Rivers Community Action Agency.”

The Star Tribune’s Jenna Ross says, “Since COVID-19 wiped out months of shows, the Reif Performing Arts Center in Grand Rapids has been brainstorming innovative, sometimes odd ways to safely gather people. Polka king Winnie Taylor broke out his best dancing duds for the show in Grand Rapids. … The Reif might have been the first venue in the state to host a drive-in concert, staging a duo on a scissor lift donated by a local company. … Last week’s polka concert was the first live performance many had attended — or, in the case of two of the three bands, played — since before the pandemic triggered a wave of cancellations and postponements at venues across the state.”

For MPR, Nina Moini writes: “The CARES Act money that since late March has provided an extra $600 in weekly unemployment checks. Should that aid go away as expected, locally run food shelves are anticipating an even greater need in the months ahead. Second Harvest Heartland, a Twin Cities-based food bank, among one of the largest in the country, released a hunger report last month that anticipated unprecedented demand. It said that before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 11 Minnesotans struggled to afford food. By next month, it’s expected that 1 in 8 Minnesotans now face hunger.

Says Emma Harville for the Pioneer Press, “The Science Museum of Minnesota announced Tuesday that it will reopen to the public Sept. 4, though with about 40 percent less staff. The museum in downtown St. Paul has been closed to the public since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic. It has lost $10 million in revenue since. ‘While the museum will access available debt and reserves to cover these anticipated losses, it cannot weather these challenges without a significant reduction to the size of the organization,’ according to a Tuesday statement from the museum, which laid off 158 members of its 400-person staff.”

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