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Is Banning ‘No-Knock’ Warrants the Latest MPD Quick Fix?

Plus arrest made in St. Paul, Two Harbors' sus mayor, and Shakopee Rock City (?) in today's Flyover.

1:26 PM CST on February 8, 2022

Tony Webster via Flickr

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily 1 p.m.(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Everybody Is Against No-Knocks Now

In the wake of the police killing of Amir Locke, a new consensus is arising: No-knock warrants are bad. (MinnPost has a good explainer on how the Minneapolis policy has and hasn't changed here.) The expected opponents of the practice are swinging into gear. MN Teen Activists is currently leading Twin Cities students in an impressive school walkout protesting the use of such warrants, and the NAACP has called for a statewide ban. Yesterday the Minneapolis city council Policy & Government Oversight Committee inundated Mayor Frey with overwhelming amounts of data to that effect.

The mayor, who said he banned the warrants during his re-election campaign (and who now “admits,” or whatever you want to call this spam, that “language became more casual, including my own, which did not reflect the necessary precision or nuance, and I own that”) is looking into a better “crafted” policy in consultation with the MPD and "national experts" DeRay McKesson and Pete Kraska. Even the GOP candidates for governor are calling for “review” and “scrutinizing” of the practice in their not-quite-committal way. All of which may suggest that while banning these warrants is an effective issue to rally around and a good start that may save lives, certain "supporters" of the ban will have a vested interest in keeping loopholes open for abuse.

And like body cams and chokehold bans, such a reform threatens to emerge as the latest quick-fix that will cure the Minneapolis Police Department of its penchant for shooting people, especially Black ones. “No-knock warrants are a problem,” council member Robin Wonsley Worlobah tweeted yesterday. “MPD is THE problem.” 

St. Paul Cops Make Arrest in Case That Prompted No-Knock Warrant

St. Paul police have arrested 17-year-old Mekhi C. Speed on charges related to the no-knock warrant that was issued to the Minneapolis SWAT team that killed Amir Locke. (Sorry for the journalism-phrasing there, no way around it.) Ramsey County prosecutors have charged Speed with two counts of second-degree murder, and are asking to try him as an adult. Speed is alleged to have killed Otis R. Elder in St. Paul on January 10. According to the prosecutors, Speed is Locke’s cousin and lived in a different unit of the Bolero Flats Apartment Homes. 

Weirdo Two Harbors Mayor Makes More Weird Headlines

We’re beginning to suspect that many of Minnesota’s small-town mayors might be wild-ass weirdos. Their strange transgressions might be trivial, like the serial clout thief who runs South St. Paul, or increasingly concerning, like the ongoing adventures of Two Harbors Mayor Chris Swanson. We first became aware of Swanson last month when news surfaced of his plans for a $400 million underwater Lake Superior hotel that’ll be partly bankrolled by “Mr. O,” an alleged tycoon who hosted Swanson on his Ask a Billionaire podcast. The city council unanimously agreed that Attorney General Keith Ellison's office should look into whether Swanson, whose Twitter account is loaded with crypto-bro ravings, violated ethics in loudly outlining his civic dreams.

Weeks later, the New York Times profiled Swanson in “Rise of the Crypto Mayors,” which revealed that Swanson was the only mayor–out of 4,000 who were cold-emailed–to engage with a 26-year-old blockchain enthusiast. That young man apparently influenced Swanson’s newfound economic vision that includes a potential brand-new currency, TwoHarborsCoin. Still with us? OK, well yesterday the Duluth News Tribune reported that Swanson’s teen daughter landed the contract to run Festival of Sail, the tall-ships event whose relocation to Two Harbors was eagerly encouraged by Swanson. The financials and deal-making specifics remain murky, but eyebrows are certainly raised over a company owned by the mayor’s daughter running a 100,000-person event.

Massive Amphitheater Planned for the Pony Track

Swervo Development, the Minneapolis-based company owned by mysterious mega-developer Ned Abdul, is poised to take over the large-scale Twin Cities concert market. Last month Racket scooped news that Abdul plans to transform Minneapolis’s Uptown Theatre into a 2,516-capacity music venue, and now the Star Tribune has a scoop of its own: Swervo is fixing to build a 19,000-seat amphitheater next to Shakopee’s Canterbury Park. "We have done large music events here for 25 years, from Lilith Fair back in the '90s… to more recently Twin Cities Summer Jam,” Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park's CEO, tells the Strib. "It is something that we know this market lacks, and so it's always been of interest."

Treasure Island Resort in Welch, Minnesota, lays claim to the state’s largest current amphitheater (16,000 seats), while First Avenue hopes to build a 9,000-ish-seater in conjunction with the north Minneapolis Upper Harbor Terminal project. Swervo bought the Armory, then a run-down Minneapolis parking garage, for $6 million in 2015. Following an extensive makeover, the historic downtown structure emerged 2.5 years later as one of the city’s premier jumbo concert halls. In semi-related outdoor music news: Rock the Garden, the annual Walker Art Center/89.3 the Current-curated fest, will return from a one-year hiatus June 11 with the lineup dropping March 1; the Minnesota State Fair just revealed its first 2022 Grandstand headliner: hat-loving country dude Zac Brown, who’s set to perform September 2.

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