NAACP Minneapolis President Nekima Levy-Pounds is calling on Park Board President Liz Wielinski to resign and apologize after having a heated exchange with her Wednesday at Park Board committee meeting in Loring Park.
When Levy-Pounds asked the Park Board for an opportunity to speak, Wielinski shouted at her: “No, I’m tired of this. You keep interrupting our meetings.”
Levy-Pounds fired back: “Don’t talk to me like I’m a slave.”
Wielinski responded: “I’m not talking to you like a slave. I’m talking to you like you’re a rude, interrupting person.”
Hashim Yonis captured the incident on video and posted it on Facebook.
Wielinksi later explained that the Park Board doesn’t take public testimony during its Committee of the Whole meetings.
“We have come to you in peace, time and time again, asking about the discriminatory practices of your Park Board,” Levy-Pounds said. “It’s been well documented that you have treated African Americans and other people of color who have worked for the Park Board in a separate and unequal manner.”
In a Facebook post, Levy-Pounds urged her supporters to join her in demanding an apology from Wielinski and asking her to step down. “We need to flood her office and email inbox to let her know that our community will not tolerate these issues,” she wrote.
Park Board Commissioner Brad Bourn, who represents southwest Minneapolis, criticized Wielinski’s behavior.
“As a Commissioner on the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, I’d like to publicly apologize to Nekima Levy-Pounds and the folks that took the time to attend our meeting last night (many for the first time) for the way they were treated,” he posted on his Facebook page. “… I was floored and embarrassed by how these folks were treated last night. The Park Board should be a welcoming place and we should all be embarrassed by this. No one who is trying to make our parks better for everyone in Minneapolis deserves to be treated this way. I think the fact that this video has been viewed thousands of times in less about 12 hours shows how unacceptable this behavior was.”
Wielinksi did not return a phone call seeking comment Friday.
Wielinski and Park Board Superintendent Jayne Miller outlined the park system’s commitment to equity in a recent letter to the City Council ahead of a major vote approving an $800 million, 20-year funding plan for the neighborhood parks and city streets.
The funding plan requires leaders to use a racial equity framework when determining priorities for street projects and neighborhood projects.