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St. Paul Student Walkout Protests Sexual Violence

Plus developments at Dayton's, death with dignity, a possible school bus strike, feds eyeing the MPD.

Photo by marco fileccia on Unsplash

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

Highland Park Students Call out ‘Sexual Assault Culture’

This morning, students at Highland Park High School in St. Paul followed through on their previously announced plans to walk out of class, in an effort “to bring awareness to and fight against how the school has handled reports of sexual violence in the past and present.” The “Sexual Assault Culture Walkout,” as a flyer referred to the protest, demanded “action toward staff that have made young women feel unsafe sexualized.” “This is not empowering, this is embarrassing,” one student speaker reportedly said during the demonstration, referring to the inability of the school to protect students and the need for students themselves to take action.  

Dayton’s Needs Your Rent

In 2017 downtown developers decided to plunk more than $200 million into the Dayton’s Project, a massive overhaul and renovation of the century-old property at 700 Nicollet Mall. Five years later, that budget has shot up to $350 million, and reconstruction efforts have weathered a pandemic, a mass exodus from downtown, and riots. This week the project is finally starting to get stuff done. Sort of. Axios shared images this morning from a tour it took on Friday, and you can kinda see what it’s going to be, if you squint hard enough. The first floor of the building (which you might recognize as the former JB Hudson Jewelers space) features a makers’ market that will host around 30 vendors. Up on the seventh floor there are swanky tenant amenities, including couches, a fireplace, and a bar. Theoretically there’s going to be a food court in the basement, but it’s still not clear when that will be happening. And so far, available office space is only 10% booked. Yikes. 

Knowing When It’s Time

How would you like to die? Most of us won’t get to choose, but 75-year-old Cheryl Harms Hauser of Hopkins, who is currently experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s, has decided to end her life on her terms. The method Hauser intends to take when her dementia sets in more fully is called VSED, or “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking.” The process is self-explanatory, though it requires the assistance of a caregiver—in this case, Hauser’s husband David McNally. You experience no pain, you eventually fall asleep, and then you eventually die. It’s a difficult story that’s well-told by Kevyn Burger for the Strib. If you’re wondering whether Minnesota will legalize faster, more humane ways for people to die without suffering, a “death with dignity” bill has been proposed in the legislature again this year, as it has been in every session since 2015.   

Minneapolis School Bus Drivers Ready to Strike

It’s Strikevember, and the folks who transport your kids to school and back are getting in on the action. This weekend, drivers and dispatchers who work with Minneapolis Public Schools, and are represented by Teamsters Local 320, voted unanimously to authorize a strike if talks break down. On the table are issues of compensation, safety, and retention. Like many school districts, MPS has already had to deal with school bus staffing shortages this year, which has in turn increased stress on the drivers and dispatchers who remain.    

Anyone out There Ever Been Mistreated by the Cops?

The Minneapolis Police Department still exists, and remains impervious to major reforms thanks to union protections and state and city regulations. But a federal civil rights investigation into the department’s practices continues, with the Justice Department currently taking statements from residents who say they’ve been unjustly treated by the MPD. And oh, do these Minneapolis residents have some stories to tell, as reported in this AP story about the investigation. The feds are looking to see if there is “a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing,” which, if found, would lead to the negotiation of a consent decree with the city that would require changes to be implemented.