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Letters: Feeding Our Future scandal, Hennepin Ave. redesign and human rights in Honduras

Our weekly roundup of letters from MinnPost readers.

A detail of a rendering of the recommended design layout for reconstruction on south Hennepin.
A detail of a rendering of the recommended design layout for reconstruction on south Hennepin.
City of Minneapolis

Don’t let Feeding Our Future allegations tarnish others

We at WOVAN (Weaving Opportunities Vocalizing AntiRacist Narratives) like so many were shocked, disgusted and disheartened to hear about the allegations and investigations against local nonprofit Feeding Our Future which is alleged to have, in coordination with other entities, potentially laundered and misappropriated over 100 million in federal relief funds. Through further conversations it’s obvious that many who will be revealed to have exploited these critical funds will identify within the same community that our culturally specific shelter program is set up to serve.

WOVAN intentionally formed to do better and work on behalf of the victims and survivors that we meet with daily in this work who desperately need culturally specific services. Victims like our Co-Director Ifrah Abdalla’s mother whom our shelter is named after. Rahma’s Refuge is the space that Ifrah’s mother said she would have been grateful to have when she was experiencing domestic violence in her life. A space that would have possibly prevented the effects of Domestic Violence in her life such as PTSD, long-term physical effects and the effects on children such as depression and a propensity towards addiction.

Every woman like Rahma in our community is effected negatively by the actions of these select few who choose to exploit and abuse resources intended to make a better life for people in need. It is well known within communities of color that when one individual or group does wrong, the blame can be projected on all who identify within that community. Our hope, for the sake of every victim and survivor of domestic and sexual violence within our East African and Muslim immigrant communities, is that the funders and gatekeepers of these resources take the time to differentiate between organizations like WOVAN who intentionally work to stand up against corruption to do what is right, and the organizations who don’t.

—Ifrah Adballa and Sarah Utley, St. Paul

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Listen to citizens on Hennepin Ave. redesign

Thank you Aaron Meyers for an excellent review of the utter failure that is the Hennepin Avenue redesign, phase one [“Hennepin Avenue needs a holistic redesign, not another Public Works mistake”]. And the catastrophe ahead if phase two is allowed to proceed as designed by our tone deaf public works department.

For months many individuals, business owners, organizations and neighborhood associations have been TRYING to be heard. We’ve shared our concerns while offering alternatives — only to receive silence from OUR city.

How is it proper public engagement when outreach is done only to TELL citizens what will happen; feedback is “welcome” but will not be considered?

When will the city recognize that boots on the ground stakeholders have valuable insights on projects impacting their area?

When will OUR city stop the authoritarian approach and allow its citizens a seat at the table?

We are willing partners, ready to do the work!

We just need the door to open!

—Carin K. Peterson, Minneapolis

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Stop funding repression in Honduras

There’s been a revolution in Honduras. In November, after 12 years of popular protest following the US-backed 2009 coup, a corrupt and violent president was peacefully ousted from power at the ballot box. We were in Honduras as accredited international observers on the day of the election. When the election results were released we witnessed joyous celebration. We also had the opportunity to speak to Hondurans who shared with us a profound sense of relief and who see these elections as the first step towards a more democratic, peaceful, and just society.

Thursday is the inauguration of the new president, Xiomara Castro. This is an important moment for Honduras. It also presents an opportunity for the United States to forge a new relationship with our southern neighbor — one which recognizes our common struggles. We too are fighting to defend democracy from those who subvert elections and attack the universal right to vote. We too are fighting against police brutality, increasingly militarized police forces, and an oppressive justice system which privileges the rich few over the many. We too are fighting against mining companies which poison our water and violate the rights of indigenous people.

Since the coup, regardless of who has been in the White House, Washington has received the corrupt Honduran president with open arms and provided billions of dollars of weapons and military training, which is often used against the Honduran people.

Support the people’s revolution. Join us in calling on our senators and representatives to pass the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act and the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act. These two bills support the Honduran people by stopping the flow of weapons and promoting anti-corruption measures the Honduran people have been fighting for.

—Simon D. Elliott and Sherilyn Young, Minneapolis and St. Paul

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