In a short period of time late last week, Jewish Community Action members and two partner organizations reached out to ask for the social justice organization’s participation in what is being called “The Residents’ Complaint” – ethics complaints filed against Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey following the shooting death of Amir Locke on Feb. 2.
“I can’t stress enough that Amir Locke’s family was involved,” said JCA executive director Carin Mrotz. “His family and community are being elevated in the process.
“Sometimes we get into things because of partners and sometimes members. This was both.”
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Elianna Lippold-Johnson, one of the JCA members who approached Organizing Director Dave Snyder about being involved, said the complaint isn’t about political ideology or whether or not the residents who signed it like Frey — Minneapolis’ second-ever Jewish mayor.
“No matter what, no matter how we voted [in 2021], we all agree that we need transparent government, and we need some accountability,” she said.
The complaint covers four main areas, Lippold-Johnson said: Frey and Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman’s choice to wrongly state that Amir Locke was a suspect when he was not; unethical use of public funds in the SWAT raid that led to Amir’s killing, and failure to fire the officer responsible; failure to exercise reasonable judgment in demanding the no-knock warrant, which the Saint Paul Police – who was seeking the arrest of the suspect named in the warrant – did not ask for; and misrepresentation by Frey, who said during the campaign that he banned no-knock warrants in 2020.
The 1,300 ethics complaints were delivered to city ethics officer Susan Trammell’s office on Feb. 11, although all duplicate complaints are dismissed – so there is effectively one official complaint against Frey. There is an open seat on the three-person Ethical Practices Board, which should be filled next week. After that, the board will take up the complaint.
According to the city, “if after a hearing, the Board sustains a complaint involving an elected official, the Board presents its recommendations regarding sanctions to the City Council. The Board has no authority to sanction. The City Council has the final authority in deciding whether or not to issue sanctions against an elected official.”
“Ethics complaints are not a call for resignation,” said Mrotz. “It’s using the city’s own process to look at violations. There are some things in the complaint that are really troubling.”
Liz Loeb, the assistant director of Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light who is also a JCA member and staffs MARCH (Multifaith Anti-Racism, Change & Healing) Table, said there is a responsibility for people to work in alliance with the needs of Locke’s family.
“Communities of color have been hurt by police violence for so long in so many ways and so systemically that there needs to be a response,” she said, adding that working in solidarity felt “at the core with how MARCH was engaged and that’s real to our relationships.”
Lippold-Johnson said it wasn’t just police violence that people are concerned about, but community gun violence as well. Mrotz said that police violence and gun violence are interrelated in the same ecosystem.
”We all agree that we want to feel safe. We want there to be a plan. And we want the violence to stop no matter where it’s coming from,” Lippold-Johnson said. ”Children deserve to be safe.”