Mpls. fire chief meets with Fourth Precinct protesters

Concerns over storm and 4th precinct

MINNEAPOLIS - Fire Chief John Fruetel met with protesters camped out at a north Minneapolis police station to discuss concerns about the growing campfires there and emergency access to the site.

Since the police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, Plymouth Avenue has been blocked outside the 4th Precinct. Barricades of wood pallets and firewood seal in the one-block urban campground between Morgan and Logan Avenues. 

"This is really a main thoroughfare for fire and EMS, it's a main thoroughfare," said Fruetel to protestors. "So if we can come to some kind of understanding on how we can make this work that would be awesome."

Three to seven inches of snow is expected to fall Monday and Tuesday. This kind of snow storm comes with inherent emergencies firefighters and EMTs need to get to.

"We would not keep emergency personnel from getting through the street," said Mica Grimm, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Grimm says the barricades were put up after several cars nearly hit protesters. She says the group has and will continue to move the barricades for emergency vehicles.

"Anytime a fire truck or an ambulance has needed to come up Plymouth, we have been able to move things out of the way within a minute and they can get through," said Grimm.

Assistant Fire Chief Bryan Tyner tells KARE11 the department is still concerned the barricades won't be moved quickly enough in an emergency. He says the department does not have a full agreement with BLM yet to remedy the situation.

"We will continue our conversations with them and hopefully come to some resolution," said Fruetel.

Tyner says the purpose of the conversation with protesters was also about fire safety, ensuring the campfires aren't too close to structures and propane heaters aren't placed inside tents.



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