We Can’t Have Public Safety without Transparency: An Open Letter to the Minneapolis Community Safety Workgroup

On May 26, 2020, MPD Spokesperson John Elder released an incident report titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.” If Darnella Frazier, and other bystanders, hadn’t filmed and shared video of that “medical incident,” most Minneapolis residents never would have known George Floyd’s name. And we never would have known the number of lies in that report.

On May 10, 2013, a SWAT team killed Terrance Franklin in an Uptown basement, claiming Franklin overpowered them, stole an officer’s gun, and shot two officers in the leg, giving them no choice but to shoot. If a neighbor hadn’t recorded audio on his iPod, and Time hadn’t released a detailed investigation into the case 8 years later, most of us wouldn’t know Franklin’s name, or those lies, either.

On June 3, 2021, Winston Smith was shot and killed by members of a U.S. Marshals Task Force in an Uptown parking garage. The investigation was turned over to the Crow Wing County Attorney, who determined that the shooting was justified. No body camera footage has been released and the account of the only non-police witness contradicts the story told by law enforcement.

By summer of 2021, New York City, Chicago, Portland, and several other major cities had released full public reports evaluating their city and police department’s actions during the protests after George Floyd’s death. It’s now February of 2022, and we’re still waiting for our report.

Yesterday, February 2, 2022, MPD officers shot and killed Amir Locke in a downtown Minneapolis apartment. As of the time of this posting, several facts released by Interim Chief Amelia Huffman contradict those released by your co-chair, Nekima Levy Armstrong. No body cam footage has been released.

Mayor Frey, and all of you in the Community Safety Workgroup, are now asking us to trust you to fix the system that produced all of these unacceptable results.

Mayor Frey has not released any information about how or why you were the individuals chosen for this group, except that he “heard from individuals that were interested.” Some of you have been critical of the Mayor and the MPD’s handling of the above, and some of you have defended them. In the past two weeks, one workgroup member has resigned over her concerns about a lack of transparency. Another has been removed from the group due to his organization being investigated for fraud by the FBI.

You’re going to meet behind closed doors for a few months (making sure you don’t leave any public paper trail) and then emerge with your recommendations on how we can improve our public safety systema system that has targeted and betrayed our most vulnerable residents since its inception and, despite many past efforts at reform, has shown no signs of being willing or able to change.

I hope you can understand why I have trouble trusting this process implicitly.

But, you have the ability to do something really powerful. You can help Minneapoils residents regain some trust in our community leaders and decision-making processes. You can help us feel a little bit safer before you even release your recommendations.

You can follow the public transparency policy required of the City Council, the Charter Commission, the Park Board, and all other official decision-making bodies in our city. All of the meetings of these groups are live-streamed for public viewing. All of their votes and decisions are logged and made available online. When an important decision is being made, residents can watch our elected or appointed representatives discuss them on their merits. The process enables residents and the media to hold their representatives accountable. And when the media gets something wrong, the public has access to the primary sources to be able to hold the media accountable. St. Paul decided to follow this process as well, live-streaming all meetings of their 2021 Community-First Public Safety Commission.

Why won’t you do the same?

This isn’t a moment for our community leaders to hide and make life-changing decisions behind closed doors. We will never have trust or safety without transparency.

Demand the release the body cam footage that will allow us to see what happened to Amir Locke. Open up your meetings to allow us to see how you are making the decisions that may determine our future.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Heather Silsbee
Ward 13 resident

The following is a list of the Community Safety Workgroup members, with public email addresses where available (huge thanks to Josh Martin for compiling that information). If you agree that the public should be able to see how these crucial public safety recommendations are being made, I encourage you to reach out and let them know.


  • Rev. Dr. DeWayne Davis, Lead Minister, Plymouth Congregational Church
  • Nekima Levy Armstrong, Founder, Racial Justice Network; Executive Director, The Wayfinder Foundation; CEO, Black Pearl, LLC


  • Charles Adams III, Director of Team Security, Minnesota Twins; Coach, North High Football; previous Minneapolis Police Department
  • Sue Abderholden, Executive Director, NAMI Minnesota
  • Mohamed Y. Ali, previously Puntland Human Rights Association
  • Nicole L. Archbold, MA, Director of Community Affairs, Minnesota Department of Public Safety
  • Susan Bass Roberts, Vice President and Executive Director, Pohlad Foundation
  • Rev. Ian D. Bethel, Senior Co-Pastor, New Beginnings Baptist Ministries; Unity Community Mediation Team
  • Steve Cramer, President and CEO, Downtown Council; board member, Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce; board member, Meet Minneapolis; board member, Opportunity Partners; board member, Catholic Charities; co-chair, Hennepin County Workforce Leadership Council; co-chair, Heading Home Hennepin Executive Committee
  • Chela Guzmán-Wiegert, administration, Hennepin County
    • County Email: chela.guzman@hennepin.us
  • Autumn Dillie, board chair, Bdote Learning Center; Street Outreach Worker, American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC)
  • Michael Goze, CEO, American Indian Community Development Corporation (AICDC); board member, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis; board member, Mni Sota Fund
  • Michelle Gross, President, Communities United Against Police Brutality
  • Brandon Jones, MA, Executive Director, Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health
  • Rev. Carmen Means, Pastor, The Movement Church; Executive Director, CANDO
    • CANDO Email: carmen@thecentralneighborhood.com
  • Angela Rose Myers, President, NAACP MPLS
  • Lul Osman, Grants Specialist, Minnesota Department of Administration; Founder, B.R.A.V.E. Foundation Incorporated
    • State Email: Lul.Osman@state.mn.us
  • Sondra Samuels, President and CEO, Northside Achievement Zone
  • Sharon Sayles Belton, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Affairs, Thomson-Reuters; former Mayor of Minneapolis
  • LaZya Smith, Member, Young People’s Taskforce
  • Chanda Smith-Baker, Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President, Minneapolis Foundation
    • Foundation Email: cbaker@mplsfoundation.org
  • Mark Thompson, Chief Courts Administrator, Hennepin County
  • Bridgette Stewart, Communications, Agape Movement Co.
  • Christopher Uggen, Professor, University of Minnesota
    • U of M Email: uggen001@umn.edu
  • Jan Unstad, President, Unstad Project LCC
  • Marquise Wilkins, EMERGE
  • Antonio Oftelie (Facilitator), Executive Director at Leadership for Networked World, Harvard University
  • Amelia Huffman (Staff), Interim Chief, City of Minneapolis Police Department
    • City Email: Amelia.Huffman@minneapolismn.gov
  • Sasha Cotton (Staff), Director, City of Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention
    • City Email: Sasha.cotton@minneapolismn.gov
  • Andrew Hawkins (Staff), Chief of Staff, City of Minneapolis Civil Rights
    • City Email: andrew.hawkins@minneapolismn.gov
  • Jared Jeffries (Staff), Principle Policy Aide, City of Minneapolis Office of Mayor Frey
    • City Email: jared.jeffries@minneapolismn.gov
  • Fatima Moore (Staff), Director, City of Minneapolis Intergovernmental Relations
    • City Email: fatima.moore@minneapolismn.gov
  • Heidi Ritchie (Staff), Policy Director, City of Minneapolis Office of Mayor Frey
    • City Email: heidi.ritchie@minneapolismn.gov

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