St. Anthony’s racial equity initiative was put in motion after an officer-involved shooting in July of 2016. The aftermath of the incident was shared on social media, bringing a national spotlight to this small suburb of Minneapolis, which is home to roughly 8,300 residents. Late in 2016, the county attorney brought charges against the officer involved in the shooting. The legal proceedings are beginning in early 2017, which will undoubtedly garner national media attention. This has been a unique challenge for city staff, as they have had to learn how to navigate media attention, public relations, legal matters and community relations in new ways–all while continuing to deliver high-level city services to residents.
Equity was being strategically discussed in St. Anthony before this incident, however the high-profile nature of the shooting thrust city employees into having these conversations publicly sooner than expected. They must very quickly move from a level of equity awareness (mostly regarding the changing resident demographics and staff turnover), to recognizing how implicit bias influences unconscious behaviors to ensure that St. Anthony remains a welcoming place for all people now and into the future.
The racial equity initiative in St. Anthony has multiple avenues working in concert. In addition to participating in GARE’s Minnesota cohort, they are in the beginning stages of forming a staff committee that will serve as a resource for all city staff on equity education and awareness. St. Anthony was also recently selected for participation in the United States Department of Justice’s Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance (CRI-TA). This review by its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services will produce a public report detailing its findings about the department, along with a set of recommendations for improvement. In addition, the city is actively participating with the St. Anthony-New Brighton School District’s Family Service Collaborative (FSC), which provides a wide variety of programs and activities for youth and families in the community.
As a small city that is working to elevate issues of equity for the first time, St. Anthony hopes that their experience will be useful to other similarly sized jurisdictions that are integrating equity initiatives into their work.
St. Anthony is participating in the 2017 Minnesota Advancing Racial Equity introductory cohort.