Inclusive in Every Way

An excerpt from Mayor Jacob Frey's
2018 State of the City Address

When Blas was fifteen-years-old, his parents returned to Mexico. Before they left, they asked then-officer Giovanni Veliz to look out for their son. Lieutenant Veliz did more than that. He mentored Blas and made sure that he finished his education at Washburn High. He stepped up, the way good neighbors do, and helped a young man who needed it. Lieutenant Veliz made sure Blas felt a part of the community … that he was included.

“An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation,” wrote civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson. “Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others.”

Lieutenant Veliz demonstrated the type of compassion that our city must be defined by – precisely at this moment in time, so blatantly tarred by a lack of compassion in our national politics.

New Americans are not simply residents in the City of Minneapolis. They are our brothers and sisters. They are our shopkeepers, workers, CEOs, and artists. For many of us, they are the loves of our life. Our entire society and everything we believe rests on standing up for them right now. They matter. They count. But the Trump Administration (and I promise that’s the only time you’ll hear the name) insists on pretending they don’t.

Not since 1950 has a citizenship question appeared on the U.S. Census. In 2020 it appears that it will be asked again. That’s because the citizenship question flies in the face of the Constitution and is indeed an extension of concerted, racist efforts to take power away from welcoming communities like ours. And getting the Census right is about getting government right. An accurate count lays the foundation for a strong and healthy democracy. Cities also depend on census data for delivering good services that help improve people’s lives.

Here in Minnesota over $1,500 per person is allocated by the federal government each year. That money goes toward everything from housing to healthcare. Through our Census 2020 Initiative, the City is partnering with trusted nonprofit and diverse community leaders to help fight back against intimidation and fear, and keep our participation in the Census strong. Council Vice-President Andrea Jenkins along with Council Members Alondra Cano and Abdi Warsame are helping spearhead that work, and I trust that these efforts will only gain momentum as we make our way toward 2020.

Immigrants and new Americans have rights. We need to make sure they know what those rights are. Sworn officers throughout the United States are required to plainly state the rights provided to those being detained in the form of Miranda. I believe that those who are undocumented should be aware of their rights with the same level of clarity. That’s why today we are announcing that Minneapolis police cars will soon be outfitted with language from our City Attorney’s Office outlining those rights. We will be installing placards with language – in both English and Spanish – detailing a person’s rights as far as they relate to ICE. We will not let the lack of compassion demonstrated at the highest levels of our government prevent us from doing right by our immigrant community.

So I’m committed to partnering with my colleagues on the Council to implement a Municipal ID – one that would benefit and help protect Minneapolis’ immigrant, trans, and non-gender conforming communities. We need everyone in our city to feel safe, valued, and loved – and to have the tools they need to succeed.

*To read the full State of the City Address, click here