The Minneapolis City Council pushed back against Mayor Jacob Frey’s decision to allocate $359,000 of the city’s COVID-19 procurement order to the Agape Movement to assist in clearing the George Floyd Autonomous Zone in Minneapolis.

In the June 17 City Council meeting, Ward 3 Council Member Steve Fletcher said, “I think it is a scandal. This is a misuse of the COVID-19 authorization. It is not appropriate as a COVID-19 expenditure, and it is something that should have come through council.”

Fletcher continued, calling the situation a scandal.

“Claiming that was the independent initiative of a community group that we turned out to be paying is a scandal in itself, and then trying to pay them through COVID-19 expenditures is a scandal,” he said.

In the City Council meeting, Jim Rowader, the Minneapolis city attorney, said that he believed that spending the money to reopen George Floyd Autonomous Zone was an appropriate way to use the funds without the approval of the city council due to “logistical efficiency” and the “need and desire for some additional operational secrecy.”

The mayor’s office responded to the critics saying, “Council President Bender and the other council members making false, after-the-fact critiques are the same local officials who excused themselves from any meaningful work while insisting Mayor Frey exercise his authority to re-open the intersection. The mayor worked with Council Vice President [Andrea] Jenkins and Council Member [Alondra] Cano to advance a non-police response that does precisely that. … These city council members who have been sitting on the sidelines are encouraged to stop the theatrics and start doing the serious work of government.”

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said that because of this incident she would like to pursue ending Mayor Frey’s emergency powers.

In an interview with MPR News, Frey defended his decision.

“It was specified to us that most people wanted us to move forward without a major police presence and without a big showdown between cops and those that were occupying the space — that’s exactly what we did,” Frey said.

He also said that council members including Lisa Bender had not helped to find an alternative solution for the intersection.

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Hayley Tschetter is a reporter with The Minnesota Sun | Star News Network and The College Fix. She graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul. Send news tips to [email protected].
Photo “George Floyd Square” by Lorie Shaull. CC BY-SA 2.0.