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‘Defund’ at center of Democratic Party debate over state, federal election losses

Plus: MDH officials say Minnesota in ‘desperate and dangerous place’ with COVID-19; protesters gather to mark five-year anniversary of Jamar Clark’s death; lax attitudes toward pandemic fueling case numbers throughout rural Midwest; and more.

In the Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach and Liz Navratil write: “Centrist Democrats struggling to understand their losses in state and federal elections that were expected to be part of a ‘blue wave’ are putting some of the blame on the ‘defund the police’ movement that began in Minneapolis. Even as Joe Biden won the White House, Democrats in swing districts across the country were hammered with attacks tethering them to calls within the Minneapolis City Council to ‘begin the process of ending’ the Minneapolis Police Department following the killing of George Floyd.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Christopher Snowbeck writes: “COVID-19 has put Minnesota in a ‘desperate and dangerous place’ with case counts soaring, the death toll climbing and fears growing that hospitals could become overwhelmed if the trend isn’t restrained. The Minnesota Department of Health reported a record 8,703 new cases Saturday, a one-day tally that surpassed the previous record by nearly 1,500. Health officials stressed the skyrocketing count wasn’t due to a backlog or some other reporting anomaly, but rather, the rapid spread of a virus that will likely produce rising death counts and hospitalizations for weeks to come.”

KSTP-TV’s Crystal Bui reports: “A few dozen met in the middle of the street in North Minneapolis to mark the five-year anniversary of Jamar Clark’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. … Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge the officers involved in Clark’s death, and the city of Minneapolis eventually reached a $200,000 settlement with Clark’s family in a civil suit. Following Clark’s death, Black Lives Matter organized protests outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th Precinct, which carried on for 18 days.”

For MPR, Tom Crann and Megan Burks write: “When the Target store on Lake Street in Minneapolis was damaged and shuttered during the unrest this summer, the company saw an opportunity. It set out to create a store that felt ‘overtly welcoming’ to Black shoppers. The company gathered community feedback and connected with local Black entrepreneurs. The result, unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, is a new layout, new merchandise, and a difference that “felt genuine,” said Houston White, who is Black.”

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For the Associated Press, Grant Schulte writes: “Danny Rice has a good sense of how dangerous the coronavirus can be. What puzzles him are the people who have curtailed so much of their lives to avoid being infected by the virus. … Plenty of people agree with Rice, and health experts acknowledge those views are powering soaring COVID-19 infection rates, especially in parts of the rural Midwest where the disease is spreading unabated and threatening to overwhelm hospitals. It’s not that people in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and elsewhere don’t realize their states are leading the nation in new cases per capita. It’s that many of them aren’t especially concerned.

WCCO-TV says: “Protesters against updating an oil pipeline are making their voices heard, and gathered for a rally at the governor’s residence Saturday. This week Minnesota regulators granted key permits for Enbridge’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline to be replaced in Minnesota. Organizers say they’re concerned about possible damage to water sources, and the environment, especially on indigenous lands.”

Also in the Star Tribune, from Paul Walsh: “An inmate from a northeastern Minnesota facility remains a fugitive Sunday, two days after he escaped. Keith C. Bellanger, 33, slipped out of the Northeastern Regional Corrections Center late Friday afternoon near Saginaw, according to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities have not said why Bellanger was in the facility. His criminal history in Minnesota spans his entire life and includes two convictions for burglary and two for domestic assault.”