Emotions ran high at Brooklyn Park City Hall on Monday night over a resolution that some say council members say has no teeth.
The resolution put forth by Brooklyn Park City Council member Susan Pha declares support for refugees, immigrants and Muslims. Pha says she did it after receiving many calls from immigrants who were afraid of being deported and torn apart from their families.
Several residents of different ethnic backgrounds stood up to speak Monday night, also expressing fear and concern.
"I feel my neighbors and everybody else should not be in a situation whenever they see police, they will be afraid," said Hassanen Mohamed, a member of Brooklyn Park's Human Rights Commission.
Residents who spoke Monday night expressed concern about Brooklyn
Park police doubling as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents,
something police say they do not do. Concern was also raised that discrimination and intolerance of immigrants had become accepted.
"We also have children, students in our city, who go to school and college, but they can't focus on learning because they worry for themselves and their families," said Pha. "They worry that they may be picked on, discriminated against, verbally or physically attacked because they are or may be perceived to be an immigrant, a Muslim, a refugee, someone who's here illegally, when they're maybe not even that."
Residents who spoke felt the resolution would be a start to better police and community relations.
"I believe we have a real opportunity here to be a model city," said Cindy Yang, who says she's a daughter of refugees. "We can be a very unique city. Or we can just boldly say 'hey, let's just accept everybody.'"
How that happens though will take time, and some council members felt the discussion had become too political.
"I didn't have any hidden agenda. I didn't come from a Democrat side. I didn't ask for any Democratic support. I didn't come from a Republican side. I didn't ask for any Republican support," said Brooklyn Park Council member Mark Mata. "This right here is a higher level of politics than I care to get involved in. In my opinion it doesn't belong in the city of Brooklyn Park."
While Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde says he supports the resolution, he feels this a resolution that needs action attached to it.
"I don't believe anyone will feel safer tomorrow with a piece of paper they won't see," said Lunde, who pushed to table the resolution.
Lunde says he has taken calls from 19 churches who would like to be part of the process, including one mosque, but haven't yet been included. Pha believes waiting would send the wrong message.
"There are people up here that will tell you that this can wait, because, guess what, they don't have family living in fear every single day. So when you're living in fear, a day is too long."
In the end, the resolution was tabled by a 4-2 vote with council members Pha and Terry Parks dissenting.
Corey Bork, firstname.lastname@example.org