Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Fight

The dog park controversy at MLK Park

Who knew a dog park could stir so much controversy? Folks in the Kingfield neighborhood have been rallying for years to get an off-leash area put in Martin Luther King Park, on 40th and Nicollet, but they hit a roadblock this summer when a group of African-American elders were having their annual picnic and found out about the plan. They found the idea of an off-leash area in a park that was supposed to honor Dr. King offensive because of its symbolism. During the Civil Rights Movement, dogs were used against protesters, they said. The idea of a dog park was "a slap in the face to the African-American community," according to Charles Mays, one of the elders. Beginning last summer, a number of very tense meetings were held, culminating in a tumultuous gathering on January 19, where African-American activist Spike Moss threatened that children would shoot at the dogs if the park board put in a dog park. The meeting concluded with people singing "We shall overcome," and less than a week later, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board president John Erwin took MLK off the table in the search for finding an off-leash area in the Sixth Park District.

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