Posted on February 2, 2024

Minneapolis Council Meeting on Encampments Turns Heated

Howard Thompson, KMSP, January 31, 2024

A Minneapolis council committee meeting over homeless encampments turned heated on Wednesday as council members argued with each other and activists in the crowd.

The conflict started between council member LaTrisha Vetaw, who is not on the Public Health and Safety Committee but was sitting in on the meeting, and committee chair Jason Chavez, but turned into a shouting match between Vetaw and activists in the crowd.

The chaos started after Vetaw took aim at the drug abuse associated with the encampments, sharing a candid story about her mother’s battle with crack addiction. Vetaw argued that allowing encampments is consequently allowing the addiction to continue.

“The people in there are addicted, it’s addiction in there,” argued Vetaw. “I had three women say I want my kids back. I was one of those kids. I was taken away from my mother. And guess what, when I wasn’t with her, every single day, I cried, I worried. ‘Where is she? Is she coming back tonight? Is she alive? Is someone going to say that she didn’t make it?’ Crack was terrible and opioids are worst when you’ve seen it firsthand.”

However, Chavez interjected, trying to get the meeting back on focus — which was an opportunity to question city leaders about the recent evictions of Camp Nenookaasi. Chavez and Vetaw went back and forth, leading to Vetaw calling Chavez “a fraud.” Vetaw then started arguing with activists in the crowd, supporting the encampment residents.

Chavez took issue with Vetaw “assigning motivation” to council members during her remarks. The meeting then spiraled out of control, leading to the meeting being adjourned.