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Plans for new MPLS police precinct face public backlash

An aerial shot showing the burned, abandoned old Third Precinct building. (Provided by Georgia Fort)

The City of Minneapolis is considering where to build a new Ward 3 police precinct, three years after the previous precinct was burned down in riots over the murder of George Floyd.

The two sites being considered are its original location at 3000 Minnehaha Avenue, and a nearby vacant city lot at 2600 Minnehaha Avenue.

But Minneapolis residents are pushing back. They say that the precinct is a symbol of mistrust and abuse.

“For us, they were just really bad neighbors,” said Jamie Schwesnedl, co-owner of Moon Palace Books, which is situated less than a block from the old precinct building. “I know for some of the other businesses on the block, they had employees assaulted by cops. We had issues with police threatening staff members and being disrespectful with our property.”

The Ward 3 precinct was set ablaze on May 28, 2020, just three days after George Floyd was murdered by MPD Officer Derek Chauvin. The building has remained shuttered ever since. A Star Tribune report from June 2020 stated that “the Third Precinct in south Minneapolis had a reputation for being home to police officers who played by their own rules.”

“The majority of people I know and talk to don’t want them back, and I certainly feel that way myself,” Schwesnedl said.

At a public listening session Tuesday, Minneapolis City Coordinator Heather Johnston said the lack of a precinct limits the police’s ability to build relationships with the community and to respond in a timely manner, but did not provide any data to support that claim.

The city will hold a final public hearing on the Ward 3 precinct tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Sabathani Community Center. The city also has a survey residents can fill out with questions, concerns, and opinions on the Third precinct’s options. That survey will close on April 30.

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