A consequential election on November 2

Billboard for voter outreach campaign with Pollen and Sahan Journal

By Kenzie O’Keefe, Policy & Advocacy Director

For roughly a year and a half, Minneapolis has reeled from a global pandemic and global uprising after the murder of George Floyd by our police department. Homelessness, hopelessness, poverty, and violent crime have surged. There is beauty and resilience in community, but these have been trying times.

On November 2, Minneapolis voters will have their first opportunity to let their opinions be known on how they think our elected officials have led us during this time of multi-dimensional crisis.

Here at Pillsbury United, we’re working hard to raise awareness for the upcoming election, where all city council and mayoral seats are up for grabs and three consequential questions—about power in City Hall, the future of public safety, and rent control—are on the ballot. There is too much at stake to sit this one out.

Here are some of the ways you can join us in driving turnout and informing voters:

  • Read and share our voting guide created by our policy team, Pollen Midwest, and the Sahan Journal. Follow us all on social media and reshare our beautiful #MplsIsUs campaign.
  • Read the latest edition of North News to learn about the three questions on this year’s ballot.
  • Hear from candidates for city seats on “Power Perspectives,” a new show on KRSM Radio hosted by our community storyteller ShaVunda Brown and KRSM station manager Andrea Pierre. It airs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10 a.m.
  • Sign up for a non-partisan phone-banking shift with us, organized by our partner CAPI USA. No experience is necessary. Training takes place at the beginning of each shift.
  • If you’re hosting an outdoor event in Minneapolis between now and November 2, our election outreach specialists (who speak Somali, Spanish, and English) are available to table and help folks make a safe plan to vote. Email ShaVundaB@pillsburyunited.org with inquiries.
  • Donate to Pillsbury United to support our GOTV efforts here.

Pillsbury United will be closed on election day so our staff can take time to vote and assist their neighbors in voting. We hope you also have the time and space to do your research and express your desires for the future on this year’s ballot.

If you have questions, we’re here for you. You can reach me directly at KenzieO@pillsburyunited.org.

Where we go from here

Mural at George Floyd Square. Photo by Lorie Shaull

On Tuesday, 12 jurors cracked open the window of justice. And we see a little light.

To be clear, the verdict in George Floyd’s murder should never have been in doubt. But we had reason for pessimism. Only rarely do police-involved killings of Black, Brown and Indigenous people even make it to the doorstep of our courts. When they do, officers are almost never held accountable—even for the most abhorrent abuses of power.

Floyd’s murder is part of a chilling pattern where policing in communities of color leads to senseless death again and again. Our hearts are already heavy this week as 20-year-old Daunte Wright, another unarmed Black man killed by local police in Minnesota, is laid to rest. Again a family and community mourns. Again we hear pleas for justice and vows for change. Again we have reason to doubt justice will ever be served.
What will it take before we say as a state, enough is enough?

Right after George Floyd’s death, our state’s leaders stood up to declare that Black Lives Matter. A year later, we’re fighting for more than a hashtag. You can help us move lawmakers into action. We can’t wait for another tragedy before we act.

The Minnesota House has taken the courageous step with a public safety omnibus bill that builds on last year’s Minnesota Police Accountability Act. This slate of common-sense measures holds officers accountable for harmful actions and unties the hands of police chiefs in protecting life.

Stand with us in calling on Minnesota state legislators and Governor Walz to take immediate and decisive action on the following items:

  • HF1104: End qualified immunity. Help survivors of brutality or harassment by law enforcement get relief in the courts by ending qualified immunity for police officers.
  • HF1103: Rules on body cameras. Prohibit law enforcement from tampering with body camera footage of a deadly force incident and require footage to be released to family and representative within 48 hours.
  • HF640: Establish civilian oversight. Remove the current state law prohibiting citizen-led councils from imposing discipline on law enforcement officers.
  • HF593: Exclude white supremacists from police ranks. Change the Peace Officer Code of Conduct to prohibit anyone on the force from affiliating with, supporting, or advocating for white supremacist or other extremist groups.
  • HF1374: Track misconduct. Require police chiefs to report officer misconduct and help to identify officers with harmful patterns of behavior.
  • HF-107B: Limit Traffic Stops. Limit authority for police officers to stop or detain drivers for certain vehicle equipment violations.

We encourage you to reach out to lawmakers to express your support for these important acts of legislation: 

We see the light of change peeking through. With your vocal support, Minnesota can throw the window wide open.

(Photo credit: Lorie Shaull)

Introducing a policy platform for justice

A young person from Waite House attending the State Capitol

By Kenzie O’Keefe, Policy & Advocacy Director

If the catastrophes of 2020 (and now 2021) have taught us one lesson, it’s that dramatic, uncompromising structural change cannot wait a moment longer.

We need public policy that meets this moment. We need true, comprehensive healthcare, housing, healing, and justice for all. Now is the time for courage.

As a historically human services focused agency, Pillsbury United Communities is no longer content to influence public policy from the sidelines. We are entering into the new year with a brand new public policy agenda—the first of its kind for our organization. We are getting to work shaping public policy and government budgets to bring about the change our systemically oppressed communities have long deserved and been denied.

Our agenda is the product of over 100 conversations with our community members: our leadership, managers, frontline staff, program participants, clients, neighbors, and professional peers in the work. Our goal was to center community need, wisdom, love, and imagination in this roadmap for our governmental advocacy work.

Highlights of our 2021-22 commitments include:

  • Expanding access to affordable, culturally relevant models of holistic healthcare through the emerging field of community health workers, driving toward universal healthcare as an end result.
  • Increasing funding for culturally relevant, community-based programs and out of school time youth programming
  • Promoting equitable neighborhood development while protecting legacy residents with anti-gentrification measures
  • Tracking toward true public safety for all
  • Ensuring artists and the creative economy are economically stable
  • Dismantling the racial opportunity gap and incentivizing innovation in our public education system

Additionally, we commit to being anti-racist in our work, something we do humbly as a legacy institution that has at times been complicit in propping up the inequitable systems that we are trying to change through policy. We intend to be champions of shared power, advocating for policy that originates from, is co-designed by, and is evaluated after implementation by the communities it affects most.

In addition to our policy platform priorities, we’ve created a working document that details the specific ordinances, bills, and other policy items we are leading on, supporting, and endorsing at every level of government. This chart will be organically populated as opportunities arise and diminish. We invite you to reach out if there are items you’d like to see added or adjusted or items you’d like to fight alongside us to achieve.

Follow along with our work and sign up for email updates at pillsburyunited.org/policy.

View the full policy platform document (.pdf).