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Minnesota’s private schools see spike in interest as public schools wrestle with reopening

Plus: Minneapolis police stop Black and East African drivers at disproportionate rates; attorney for one of ex-officers charged in killing of George Floyd wants Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman off the case; Loons lose in semifinal of MLS tournament; and more.

Empty classroom desks
Photo by Rubén Rodriguez on Unsplash

For MPR, Tom Crann and Megan Burks report, “Some private schools in Minnesota say they’re seeing a surge in new applicants as the pandemic stretches into fall. Independent and faith-based schools are exempt from the state’s recent guidance on reopening, and many of them are offering face-to-face instruction when their public school neighbors cannot. Kevin Breen, the head of school for the Marshall School in Duluth, Minn., told MPR News that applications from prospective students in July went from a three-year average of 14 to 46 this year. And the school’s website, which averages 182 hits in July, had 996 unique visitors last month, he said.”

In the Star Tribune, Andy Mannix writes: “Minneapolis police stop and search a disproportionate rate of Black and East African drivers and their vehicles during routine traffic stops compared with other races. The city is predominantly white, yet Black and East African drivers accounted for 78% of police searches that started as stops for moving or equipment violations from June 2019 through May 2020, according to Minneapolis police data.”

The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried writes: “A commission of St. Paul residents that reviews misconduct complaints about police officers is an ongoing example of the national conversation about police-community relations, a St. Paul city council member said Wednesday. Yet, many people in St. Paul don’t know what they can do if they have a problem with a police officer, said Julian Roby, coordinator of the Police Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission. Roby told city council members he believes the commission needs additional funding for operations and outreach.”

Says Liz Navratil for the Star Tribune, “After their plan to get a police overhaul on the November ballot fell short, Minneapolis City Council members are recalibrating their plans for transforming public safety in the city. The 2021 budget process, which kicks off next week, could provide an opportunity to do just that — though it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. … Council Member Steve Fletcher said this week that he expects some on the council will want to consider creating a community safety department as the budget negotiations proceed. … If they do, they will have to find a way to fund it while still complying with a charter provision that requires Minneapolis to keep a police department with a minimum force based on its population.”

The Star Tribune’s Dan Browning says, “The attorney for one of four former officers charged in connection with the police killing of George Floyd on Memorial Day filed a motion Thursday seeking to have Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman removed from the case. Thomas C. Plunkett argued that Freeman is ethically compromised and too close to law enforcement to fairly prosecute his client, J. Alexander Kueng, who was charged as an accomplice in Floyd’s killing.”

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MPR’s Paul Huttner tells us, “It’s hard to believe we’re counting down to the Labor Day weekend already. But there are just three precious summer weekends left after this one before the Labor Day holiday weekend. This weekend brings a classic mix of summer warmth and humidity. Highs from Friday through Sunday push into the 80s across most of Minnesota. Highs could reach 90 degrees in the southern parts of Minnesota this weekend.”

KSTP-TV’s Callan Gray says: “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is moving forward with relocating those experiencing homelessness at Powderhorn Park. The agency said the west side was given notice on Monday to transition to a shelter or another site. There are still about 55 tents at the site, according to the Park Board. … Commissioners heard a presentation from Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto, who shared the offense reports since July 15.”

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In the Duluth News Tribune, Brady Slater reports, “Two legs of work scrubbed in November from the ‘can of worms’ reconstruction project through Duluth’s Lincoln Park neighborhood have found a home — rescheduled for 2027 and 2028. The reconstruction of the U.S. Highway 53 bridges through Lincoln Park and the Interstate 535 bridges and ramps onto Garfield Avenue through the port were scheduled into the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 10-year Capital Highway Investment Plan, which is currently open for public comment. Highway 53 work will come first in 2027, followed by I-535 in 2028.”

In the Pioneer Press, Kathy Berdan writes: “St. Paul-based Penumbra Theatre announced Thursday morning that it is ‘evolving’ into the Penumbra Center for Racial Healing. The United States’ preeminent African-American theater will still perform works for the stage, but also is expanding its community and racial equity programs. Started in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood more than four decades ago, Penumbra Center for Racial Healing will also add a wellness center. … Penumbra wants to add the arts to other efforts to mend racial inequities and ‘chip away at the great disparities.’”

ESPN reports: “Two first-half goals six minutes apart by Nani led Orlando City to a 3-1 victory over Minnesota in a semifinal of the MLS is Back Tournament at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando on Thursday. Orlando will play the Portland Timbers in the final on Tuesday, with the winner earning a spot in the 2021 CONCACAF Champions League.”