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Minneapolis police officers destroyed case files during 2020 unrest

Plus: Line 3 opponents appeal to Minnesota Supreme Court; former Brooklyn Center officer charged with killing Daunte Wright doesn’t want trial broadcast; Metro Transit expanding public safety efforts; and more.

Andy Mannix reports in the Star Tribune: “As an unruly crowd besieged Minneapolis’ Third Precinct headquarters last summer, officers on the other side of the city destroyed a cache of documents, including inactive case files, search warrants and records of confidential informants. In a private police report, Minneapolis officer Logan Johansson disclosed that he and other investigators in the Second Precinct to the northeast decided to destroy the documents shortly after May 28 ‘in direct response to the abandonment of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis by city leadership.’ … The decision to destroy the files is now at the center of a legal battle playing out in Hennepin County courts. Public defender Elizabeth Karp says the officers acted without oversight and against policy when they destroyed critical evidence in the charges against her client, 36-year-old Walter Power.”

In the Pioneer Press, Mara H. Gottfried writes: “Attention to St. Paul lawmaker John Thompson’s recent traffic stop has escalated to harassment of a Black elected official because he’s one of the most outspoken voices against police brutality, his supporters said Wednesday. They said they agreed with Thompson’s assessment that he was racially profiled when a St. Paul police sergeant pulled him over for driving without a front license plate and cited him for driving after his Minnesota driving privileges were suspended. Since Thompson’s July 4 traffic stop, he’s faced criticism from the chairman of his own Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, the state’s police association called on Wisconsin to conduct a potential perjury investigation, and now political opponents are using the situation for fundraising.”

Steve Karnowski writes for the Associated Press: “Tribal and environmental groups opposed to Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline project asked the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a lower court decision affirming the approvals granted by independent regulators that allowed construction to begin last December. … The White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the Sierra Club and Honor the Earth petitioned the state’s highest court to hear the case after the Minnesota Court of Appeals last month ruled that the Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge a certificate of need and route permit for the 337-mile Minnesota segment of a larger project to replace a crude oil pipeline built in the 1960s that can run at only half capacity.”

MPR’s Matt Sepic reports: “The former Brooklyn Center police officer charged with killing a Black man during a traffic stop says she does not want her trial televised. Kimberly Potter, who is white, is charged with manslaughter in the April 11 shooting death of Daunte Wright. … Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office, which is prosecuting Potter, argues in a court filing that her trial should be livestreamed to ensure Wright’s constitutional right to a public proceeding and the right of news organizations to cover it. Potter’s trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 6. …Potter’s lawyers argue that under Minnesota court rules, the trial may not be broadcast without the consent of both parties, and Potter does not consent to having cameras in the courtroom.”

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The Pioneer Press’ Frederick Melo writes: “A proposed city ordinance that would cap residential rent increases in St. Paul at 3 percent annually is heading to ballot in November. Housing advocates had collected more than 5,500 signatures on a petition initiative by mid-June, with the goal of moving the ordinance proposal to a citywide vote this fall. For the petition initiative to move forward, 4,958 valid signatures were required and Ramsey County Elections counted 5,592. The St. Paul City Council voted 5 to 0 Wednesday to accept the results of the count and forward the petition language to the city attorney’s office for ballot preparation.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Janet Moore writes: “Metro Transit plans to add police officers and more than triple its number of community service officers to ensure that passengers feel safe while taking Twin Cities’ public transportation, especially light rail. The initiative, to be announced Thursday, involves hiring 50 additional community service officers — college students enrolled in law enforcement programs — to work in tandem with Metro Transit police on buses and trains and at stations and bus stops throughout the metro area. Another 15 police officers will be hired, as well as additional personnel to monitor activity on the system in real time from a central command post in Minneapolis.”

Hannah Flood reports for FOX 9: “According to numbers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the average number of wildfires they see in a year is around 1,400. This year, they’ve already seen more than 1,600. That’s the highest number since 2015 with months left to go in the fire season. ‘The spring fire season just rolled right into summer,’ said DNR Wildfire Operations Supervisor Bill Glesener. ‘We really haven’t had a stop due to the drought that’s in place in Minnesota.’ Glesener says so far more than 35,000 acres have burned, which is equivalent to the area of the entire city of St. Paul.”

Says a FOX 9 story, “The United States Postal Service is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrest after a letter carrier was robbed in Minneapolis. The United States Postal Inspection Service, the law enforcement unit of USPS, says the letter carrier was robbed by an armed suspect on the 3000 block of N. 4th Street in the Hawthorne neighborhood around 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday. The suspect or suspects then left the scene in a four-door sedan.”

WCCO-TV’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield says, “At long last, visitors are once again coming to the Twin Cities and staying the night. At the start of the pandemic, hotel occupancy dipped below 5% in Minneapolis. It’s now up to 30%. By most accounts, this is the ideal time of year to visit Minneapolis. But for a year and a half, those visits have been rare and hotels eerily quiet. Lisa Schetinski works in sales at the Canopy by Hilton hotel in the Mill District of Minneapolis. ‘I don’t think anything could have prepared all of us for this type of situation and how it impacts our industry so significantly,’ she said.”

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