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MPD Reportedly Operates like the Mob

Plus folk arts flourish, yurts for the homeless, and a football conspiracy in today's Flyover news roundup.

Chad Davis via Flickr

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

MPD's Off-Duty Cop Tactics: 'It’s a Racket' (The Bad Kind!)

When it comes to holding police accountable, no reporter in town comes close to the Minnesota Reformer's Deena Winter, and today she's back with another doozy: Some Minneapolis small-biz owners tell Winter the city and MPD effectively force them to hire off-duty officers for security they don't want or need.

"You gotta do what they say… I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars," Maya Santamaria, the former owner of El Nuevo Rodeo, tells the Reformer. "Because they’re racist and we’re Mexican; they didn’t want to let Mexicans have nightclubs." Santamaria says she had to pay cops (including future murderer Derek Chauvin) nearly $60 per hour for security. Basim Sabri, owner of Karmel Mall and Plaza Mexico, says he pays up to $160 per hour for de facto required off-duty cops ("Instead of helping us, they’re hurting us”); Jonathan Soto, owner of the club EME Antro, claims off-duty officers prefer cash payments (“The city kind of liked that"), and that they sometimes leave mid-shift to perform on-the-clock police work. John Wolf, however, says he enjoyed the off-duty police presence inside his Chicago-Lake Liquors, similar to how he seemingly enjoyed a 2020 Trump campaign stop.

Former Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon calls these strong-armed MPD arrangements "sleazy and illegal," though imposing changes might prove difficult due to a 1997 injunction that prevents altering certain off-duty policies. Mayor Jacob Frey tells Winter the issue is “one of the more difficult and intractable,” though he says his office is "talking" about possibly revoking the injunction. Sounds promising! Santamaria, meanwhile, alleges the city licensing division enjoys a cozy relationship with MPD, thus ensuring a mutually beneficial status quo. "It’s a racket,” she says. “You were damned if you did, damned if you didn’t … you were always having to break the law.” We encourage you to surf away from Racket to read Winter's entire detailed and damning report.

Folk Schools Are Flourishing

Perhaps at some point in your working life, you've taken an account of your position—slouched over a laptop, eyes glazing in hour three of an "all-hands" meeting hosted somewhere in California—and thought, "my ancestors would be so disappointed." This is an era of soft hands and poor posture, but as this excellent MPR story from Dan Kraker points out, not everyone is content to let the laptops win. Kraker takes us inside the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, which has been humming with activity this month as nearly 50 volunteers, all of them trained in timber framing by North House, have worked to build a new welcome center at the school.

It's just part of a $5 million investment in North House, a long-running folk school that's now part of a booming number of them in Minnesota, from Ely to Avon to Marine on St. Croix. “One of the things we’ve often said is, you know, the world is high-tech, low-touch,” Gus Wright, executive director of the North House, tells MPR. “We’re the counterbalance to that. High-touch, low tech. Not that we don’t use technology or tools. It’s about connecting the past and the present and the future.” In this low-touch era, what a delight to see schools like this booming as folks look for an alternative. It's a treat to read Kraker's whole report.

Homeless Encampment Hopes to Go Full Yurt This Winter

The colder months are a particularly brutal time for the unhoused, but Camp Nenookaasi in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis is already starting to winterize by building yurts. The 10-person structures are made of wood, tarp, and rope, and feature wood-burning barrel stoves that vent to the outside. “Our goal is to raise $10,000, which would build 20 yurts to house 150-200 people at Nenookaasi Healing Camp this winter,” write organizers via the project’s GoFundMe page. “Everyone deserves a warm place to take shelter.” So far, they’ve raised over $8,700, and seven yurts have been built onsite. Whether or not the yurts get to stay up is another question entirely. Nenookaasi was already forced by to move in August, and the city has become infamous for bulldozing encampments. When Fox 9 recently checked in with the city about the yurts, a spokesperson told them they’d make “no guarantees” on the camp’s future.

Viral Chargers Super Fan a Secret Vikings Supporter?

Conspiracies abound around Merrianne Do, the superfan who captivated last night's Monday Night Football audience with her animated support of the Los Angeles Chargers as that team lost to the Dallas Cowboys. This morning, the NFL Take Industrial Complex has been whirring on overdrive, with some accusing Do of being an AI bot and others, like noted kook Aaron Rodgers, claiming she was an industry "plant." Do assured Pat McAfee Show viewers Tuesday that she is, in fact, a legit Chargers loyalist, telling the armchair football zoo crew: "I wish I was getting paid, I wish I could make myself AI and as beautiful as I want, but at the end of the day, guy, this is me: crazy mom of four, crazy Chargers fan, crazy freaking football fan… I'm not offended." For those who remain committed to the conspiracy bit, we present you this potential wrench thrown into Do's narrative—make of it what you will!

Update: Do came clean about her dual allegiances, telling TMZ, "I grew up in Minnesota before moving to California almost 20 years ago. I don't think you have to be a single-team fan. I love my Chargers and I'm not gonna deny my Vikings. At the end of the day, yes, I've been a Vikings fan, I've been through that journey as a Vikings fan and still am, but I'm here in L.A. for the past 20 years."

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