Representatives with the Council on American Islamic Relations is calling on the Minneapolis Park Police Department to release information about an incident last summer. Four Somali-American teens, who were 13- and 14-years-old at the time, say they were handcuffed and held at gunpoint by park police officers.
Ellen Longfellow is a civil rights attorney working for the council. She said the department still hasn’t released public information about the incident including the names of the officers involved. “We have the right to it under the Data Practices Act,” said Longfellow. “And we’re doing what we should be doing in terms of trying to figure out what the exact facts were before we think about bringing charges or doing other legal action.”
Longfellow said CAIR is preparing to file for a request for an advisory opinion from the state’s Data Practices Office and file a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
CAIR executive director Jaylani Hussein said communications between the park board and the families of the children started positively, but now have broken down. “The park [board] appeared to be reaching out to the families and meeting with them and trying to explain that they would be on top of this,” said Hussein. But now, he thinks the board is trying to “silence” the families.
In response, Park Board spokesperson Dawn Sommers released a statement that says in part, “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has responded to CAIR’s data requests and has provided them with the public data we can legally provide.”