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Minneapolis Park Board votes to offer settlement to Somali teens handcuffed at a city park

Thursday October 3, 2019

In 2018, Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto, then-interim Superintendent Mary Merrill, and Abdirahman Mukhtar, of the community outreach and access coordinator talked, as they walked from a meeting with the family of the four Somali-American/ANTHONY SOUFFLE

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board voted Wednesday to offer a settlement to four Somali-American teenagers who were mistaken for criminal suspects and detained at a city park, in a case that stirred racial emotions after a video of the encounter went viral.

The board met behind closed doors before its meeting, during which it signed off on the matter with a quick vote, without further discussion. It was not immediately clear whether a settlement figure had been reached.

At Minnehaha Park in July 2018, park police handcuffed the four teens, ages 13 to 16, after a 911 caller reported four armed boys involved in an assault. No charges were filed, but at the time, one of the teens said he felt discriminated against. After the ensuing public backlash, the Park Board voted to form an advisory council made up of residents.

At Wednesday's meeting, Park Police Chief Jason Ohotto deferred questions to a board spokeswoman, who said that the agency wouldn't comment until the settlement was finalized.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations later filed a discrimination complaint against the parks system for what it called a failure to provide information about the incident, possibly in violation of the state's Data Practices Act, an allegation that the Board denied.


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