The panic in Powderhorn Park

Brian Kilmeade is filling in for Tucker Carlson on Tucker Carlson Tonight this week. Last night I was invited to discuss the homeless encampment that has sprung up in Minneapolis’s Powderhorn Park. The encampment has attracted national attention, as in Caitlyn Dickerson’s June 24 New York Times story “A Minneapolis Neighborhood Vowed to Check Its Privilege. It’s Already Being Tested.”

I have embedded video of the entire show below. The segment on Powderhorn Park begins at 20:00. Brian Kilmeade’s introduction concisely covers the story. The park encampment has been the scene of three sexual assaults in the past few weeks, two of the three assaults involving juvenile victims. It’s a sad situation.

I went over to the park yesterday afternoon to check out its current state. I snapped the photo at the right from 14th Avenue South on the east side of the park.

Brian Kilmeade caught me by surprise with the question what is to be done? If I had had my wits about me, I would have suggested that the authorities clear the park by repurposing the empty warehouse purchased by the state of Minnesota to serve as a morgue for the thousands of COVID-19 fatalities anticipated by Governor Walz. I wrote about it just last week in “Financial murders in the no rue morgue.”

Or the authorities could repurpose the unused “alternate care site” in Roseville, the suburb immediately north of St. Paul. It too is sitting empty, awaiting the low-level, non-coronavirus patients to be treated when our hospitals are overrun with victims of COVID-19.

Powderhorn Park sits in the heart of the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, within shouting distance of the precinct headquarters building that Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey abandoned and let burn to the ground on the evening of May 28. It is situated two or three miles south of downtown Minneapolis in an older, mostly residential neighborhood.

The homeless encampment — actually two large encampments — in Powderhorn Park sprang up quickly in the aftermath of the George Floyd riots. It includes 560 tents and at least 280 squatters. Although the exact number of squatters is disputed, this much is not: it is a den of drug abuse, mental illness, and filth.

It is also a monument to misrule. In part it derives from a provision of Walz Executive Order 20-55 prohibiting the removal of the “homeless” from public parks. It is therefore no surprise that the phenomenon of homeless encampments in Minneapolis parks has metastasized. It now extends to some 38 parks.

At its meeting late this afternoon the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board will take up a proposed resolution limiting the number of parks with encampments to 20, the number of tents per encampment to 25, and establishing a new temporary encampment permit that can be issued to an individual volunteer, volunteers, non-profit corporation, legal entity, government or non-governmental partner or agency who agrees to be responsible for the day-to-day oversight and regulation of an encampment. If adopted and enforced, the proposed resolution would superimpose a facade of legality on illegal occupations.

UPDATE: I drove almost entirely around the park during my visit yesterday at around 2:00 p.m. As I drove east a few blocks north of the park, I couldn’t figure out what so many Minneapolis Park Police and Minneapolis Police Department cruisers were doing in the vicinity. It turns out that there had been a shooting at the encampment a few minutes before or after I visited. According to a park police spokesman quoted by the Star Tribune, the “[t]he name and age of the [shooting victim] has not been released, and no arrests have been made[.]”

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