Apr 15, 2021

Axios Twin Cities

Good morning, folks.

Situational awareness: We're still watching to see if former MPD officer Derek Chauvin takes the stand in the final days of his trial.

Today's newsletter is 991 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Protests reignite debate over police response

An activist calls for calm as demonstrators face off with police outside of the Brooklyn Center police station on April 14. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Ongoing protests over Daunte Wright's death have renewed debate over the tactics police use to control crowds and respond to civil unrest.

Driving the news: Hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a fourth straight night in Brooklyn Center Wednesday. Law enforcement used flash-bang grenades and pepper balls to disperse the crowd as a 10 p.m. curfew set in.

The backdrop: The use of "crowd-control" measures in previous nights had drawn criticism.Β Law enforcement officials have said aggressive tactics are necessary to restore order and protect residents and property when peaceful protests begin to devolve.

  • State Patrol Colonel Matt Langer said earlier this week that the efforts to force the crowd to disperse were a response to "activities that lead toward a riot," such as setting off fireworks and throwing bottles.

But activists say the militarized response is overly aggressive, dangerous and actually risks inciting more violence. Some are raising concerns about the impact on families living near the protests.

  • Brooklyn Center City Council passed a resolution Monday banning the use of rubber bullets and tear gas by local police. Mayor Mike Elliott, who now oversees the department, is also opposed to their use.
  • "We have to approach policing in a different way, in a more humane way," he said.
  • However, county and state law enforcement are directing the protest response.

Flashback: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine tallied dozens of injuries caused by "less-lethal" weapons used for crowd control during the protests that followed George Floyd's killing.

  • Several injured demonstrators have sued the Minneapolis Police Department.

The bottom line: The confrontations are further raising tensions between protesters and police as the Chauvin trial nears a close.

  • The verdict in that case has the potential to ignite even bigger protests β€” and security responses β€” across the metro.

Full story: Daunte Wright protests reignite debate over police response to unrest

2. What to know about the charge against Kim Potter

Kim Potter was arrested for manslaughter Wednesday. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput charged ex-Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daunte Wright.

  • The charge covers situations where someone's "culpable negligence" creates "unreasonable risk" and causes a death.

What it means: If convicted, Potter could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison or a $20,000 fine, or both.

Yes, but: Potter has no prior felonies, which means that the presumptive and more likely sentence would be four years, Minneapolis defense attorney Barry Edwards told the Star Tribune. Potter could even avoid prison time and instead get probation, he said.

Of note: Similar charges have been filed in other cases where officers claim to mistake a gun for a taser, per The New York Times.

Still, some activists and protesters have called on prosecutors to file more serious murder charges in this case.

Go deeper: Kim Potter charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

3. By the numbers: Minnesotans' tax filings

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Today's traditional deadline to file taxes had been extended to May 17 because of the pandemic, but many Minnesotans won't need the extra time.

As of Monday, the state Department of Revenue received more than 1.8 million individual income tax returns β€” about 60% of the 3 million they expect.

Of note: Unlike the federal government and many other states, lawmakers here have yet to agree on whether to allow exemptions for pandemic aid, including extra unemployment benefits and Paycheck Protection Program loans.

  • If the Legislature agrees to a tax deal, the Department of Revenue will reach out to impacted taxpayers and ask them to file an amended return if needed, a spokesperson said.

Go deeper: Minnesota leaves pandemic relief in tax limbo

4. πŸ›Ά How to paddle Minnehaha Creek

Minnehaha Creek runs 22 miles from Minnetonka to Minneapolis. Photo: Nick Halter/Axios

It's a secret to many in the Twin Cities, but Minnehaha Creek can be navigated by canoe or kayak between Lake Minnetonka and Minnehaha Falls.

  • The 22-mile stretch takes between 6 and 9 hours depending on water levels and how hard you paddle, according to the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

Jason Butterfield, a Chanhassen resident and commercial real estate broker, paddled the entire stretch a few years ago in a kayak.

  • "You've got to be prepared for a lot of elements like debris, branches and bogs," he said. "But the beauty of it is wandering and paddling through people's backyards."

Setting the scene: The creek begins in a wetland area below the Gray's Bay Dam in Minnetonka and eventually runs through the backyards of the some of the priciest homes in the Twin Cities.

  • It passes through two golf courses and a cemetery and runs alongside park trails, big-box stores, warehouses and even a Taco Bell.

Tip: You don't have to do the whole 22-mile stretch. There are 17 marked access points to the creek on this map by the Watershed District, which has a lot more helpful info.

  • Find out if the water flow is suitable for paddling here.

Share this story: Paddling Minnehaha Creek for 22 miles through the Twin Cities

5. Jacobson, Winston to face off in Brooklyn Park mayoral race

Hollies Wilson and Lisa Jacobson. Photos: Facebook

The field is set for an Aug. 10 special election to fill Brooklyn Park's open mayoral seat.

  • Lisa Jacobson, a city council member, and Hollies Winston, a business owner, were the top vote-getters to advance from Tuesday's primary.
  • The vacancy was triggered by former Mayor Jeff Lunde's election to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

Why it matters: The diverse North metro community is Minnesota's sixth-largest city.

6. Catch up quick: Twins shortstop out with COVID

Andrelton Simmons is out with COVID-19 after declining to get vaccinated. Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

⚾️ Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons tweeted March 26 that he wasn't going to get a vaccine. Now, he's sidelined with COVID-19. (ESPN)

🎳 Remember that sweet drone video of Bryant Lake Bowl that went viral? It's being auctioned as a nonfungible token to help rebuild Lake Street. (Twin Cities Business)

βš–οΈ Gov. Tim Walz extended the pandemic peacetime emergency for another 30 days. (Star Tribune)

πŸ—οΈ St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter overrode a City Council's vote against a major housing development. (Pioneer Press)

πŸ’‰ First Avenue is hosting a COVID-19 vaccination drive targeting the arts and music industries. (Twitter)

7. 1 quote to go

A vet student at the University of MInnesota holds a newborn pig at Miracle of Birth exhibit in 2012. Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

"This is our way back to normalcy. We get done on this side of the road, we get to go into the Miracle of Birth Barn."
β€” Gov. Tim Walz touting a new vaccination site across from the Minnesota State Fairgrounds

Our take: Sure, the birth barn is great, but it wouldn't top our personal post-vaccination bucket lists.

If you're feeling on edge this week, you're not alone. We thought it would be a good time to re-up this advice for dealing with stressful times, courtesy of Cassie Sawyer, a Twin Cities therapist at Root to Crown Healing & Wellness:

  1. Lean on community, especially "people you feel safe with and that you trust."
  2. Move your body through walking, dancing or art.
  3. Tap into spirituality.

Look out for each other!