A chaotic scene erupted at a community meeting in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood on Friday evening where Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame attempted to hold a community meeting to propel their proposed plans for an “African Market” in what is currently a city-owned parking lot near South 4th Street and Cedar Avenue.
A Minneapolis Crime Watch page on Facebook posted about a request for police response to the Brian Coyle Center just after 6:30 p.m., and recorded police dispatch audio also captured a portion of the request for additional squads by an off-duty officer on a “detail for the mayor” who was already on site at the community center.
The scene unfolded at the center on the 400 block of 15th Avenue South where a large group opposed to the project took over the microphone and demanded an end to the meeting, according to a Star Tribune report.
Mayor Frey and council member Warsame were reportedly surrounded by protesters and exited the community center shortly after arriving the report said.
The sentiment conveyed by the protesters is a feeling that the community was not consulted or involved in the planning process and that they have not had a voice in the proposed plan for the community market.
Frey was escorted out of the building shortly after the fracas erupted and addressed reporters outside the center saying, “[t]his is the nature of the process. You involve a community, you hear different perspectives and then you figure out the best pathway forward,” the report said.
Warsame remained inside the building and tried to calm the crowd, but eventually left the room after protesters took over the microphone yelling their opposition to the project. Warsame said he was “disappointed” by people at the meeting who were “trying to hijack the narrative.”
Alpha News reported earlier this month about the opposition to the project which is based largely on crime concerns and also about the reduction in parking for local business patrons.
Warsame insisted once outside the meeting Friday that the project was “going to get built regardless,” implying that the community could add their voices in the process, or it would be built with “other people in mind.” The market is scheduled to break ground in 2021.
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