On Wednesday morning, the Minneapolis City Council took an important vote despite the notable absence of three Council Members. Jeremiah Ellison, Jamal Osman, and Aisha Chughtai were with their families, observing the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha.
The lack of accommodations made for the three Muslim leaders is a civic failure. Thousands of Minneapolis residents are practicing Muslims, and as Ellison, Osman, and Chughtai said in a joint statement, “Our holy days and celebrations are not unknown or mysterious.” This cannot be chalked up as a growing pain of a growing city. If leaders are not prepared to respect the basic civil rights of Minneapolis religious communities, then they are not prepared to lead.
Representation matters. When the Council took its vote Wednesday, 101,065 constituent voices were excluded from the conversation. This decision violated the trust of Minneapolis voters and betrayed the democratic process. This is not an isolated incident. America’s “democratic” process has been manipulated time and again by those in power to suppress the political power of communities of color, renters, immigrants, and workers. A vast majority of residents in Wards 5, 6, and 10 are renters. A majority of residents in Wards 5 and 6 and a sizable minority of residents in Ward 10 are people of color. Wednesday’s vote was straight from the playbook of institutional racism.
We, the neighborhood organizations of the South-Central Minneapolis Anti-Racism Collective, are disturbed by this blatant abuse of power. We will look to the leadership of Council Members Ellison, Osman, and Chughtai in the days ahead. Every person in Minneapolis deserves representation in the halls of city government, especially those who are so often pushed to the margins, disrespected and disregarded. As such, we remain committed to building power within our neighborhoods to hold our elected officials accountable. Together we can disrupt and transform the systems designed to maintain imbalanced and unearned power for a few at the expense of our communities. .
The South-Central Minneapolis Anti-Racism Collective