Earlier this month, the Minneapolis City Council rejected a $300,000 grant from the federal government to counter extremism in the city. Members say they were concerned the money would be used to target majority Black and brown communities.
The grant was to be used to intervene with youth at risk from “indoctrination by known terrorist organizations," and followed Minneapolis’s approach of using resources besides the police force to counter extremist influences.
“I think that [this grant] promotes this idea that there are parts of our city that are fostering terrorists,” Council Member Jeremiah Ellison said. “I think it can be… insidious how it leverages the need for youth programs to surveil them… and target them through services for young people.”
Those that opposed said that federal grants have unfairly targeted Black and brown communities, particularly Muslim individuals. Jason Chavez said that his constituents have worries that Muslim Americans will be unfairly targeted by the recipients of the grant, while white supremacist groups will be ignored.
“My constituents, particularly from Muslim communities, said that through this program they have felt surveilled and targeted, and that there have been accusations from my constituents that they felt targeted while minimizing far-right extremism.,” Chavez said.
The City of Minneapolis began the application process for the grant last year.