(Center of the American Experiment) — Minneapolis, the epicenter of chaos following the death of George Floyd and the self-imposed economic damage from COVID-19, has significant problems to address in 2024. Many would say that unless city leaders get a handle on the violence and disorder that has become common since 2020, we will forever lose our state’s signature city. Some fear it’s already too late.
Given Minneapolitans and those who work in or visit Minneapolis so obviously desire a focus on the lawlessness plaguing the city, it was beyond disappointing that the first order of business for the City Council in 2024 was to debate a resolution regarding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
On Jan. 8 the Council met for the first time in 2024. They elected a new Council president and vice president, Elliott Payne and Aisha Chughtai, respectively. Then, the first order of business was Chughtai amending the approved agenda and offering the Gaza resolution.
The move was so off target from anything this body should be focused on, but so symbolic of the source of dysfunction Minneapolitans have had to endure in recent years. Sadly, the move came complete with anti-Israeli protestors, invited by council members, who packed the small City Council gallery to cause even more disorder and divisiveness towards anyone not willing to fall in line.
The stunt was the last thing Minneapolis needed to start 2024, and the Council showed once again that it governs from the perspective of activists rather than from the perspective of responsible public servant representatives of the entire city.
Fortunately, not all Council members have shown themselves to be so unfocused.
LaTrisha Vetaw of the 4th Ward in far North Minneapolis was one of only two Council members to not fall in line with the crowd, voting “no” to the resolution — seemingly not because she doesn’t want to see peace in the Middle East, but because she understands the precarious spot Minneapolis is in and the need for the Council to be laser focused on addressing the problems facing the city.
Vetaw wrote a blistering op-ed in the Star Tribune, published last week.
“The new Minneapolis City Council term is starting off on a terrible foot, and I am worried. I hoped that we could start off this term with a spirit of collaboration and a shared purpose of moving our city forward. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues including our newly elected council president and vice president seem to have different plans, as they have decided to bring forward a one-sided resolution regarding the war between Israel and Hamas as the very first order of council business.
There is so much wrong with this that it is hard to know where to start.”
“So many of my council colleagues seem blind to the violence happening right here in our own city. I wish they would get serious about addressing that instead of spending their time on revolutionary cosplay and performative stunts. If we don’t work on saving our own city from violence, who will? That is our job. Foreign relations is the job of many others.”
“I’ve endured a lot of chaotic council meetings. But the Jan. 8 meeting was by far the worst yet. Newly elected council President Elliott Payne let things get way out of hand. Supporters of Palestine packed the room, and they were out of control. They interrupted the meeting, threatened Jewish audience members, and yelled at council members. President Payne did not stop it. Council Member Robin Wonsley made the situation worse with her comments, which seemed meant to incite violence. She clearly enjoyed the cheers she got, which only made her louder and more inflammatory.”
Rather than focus on the many problems plaguing Minneapolis in 2024, the Minneapolis City Council tripped coming out of the gate. Their misguided stunt to start the year makes remaining optimistic more difficult for those of us committed to ensuring our signature city can rebound.