They're private employees working for a non-profit, Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, and their job is to help make downtown "cleaner, safer, greener and better in order to achieve a more vital and vibrant downtown." They're called "ambassadors," and according to DID are supposed to be the "friendly faces" of the city.
But you wouldn't know it from watching a video of two DID "ambassadors" harassing an anti-war protestor who was chalking the sidewalk in front of the FBI building on Friday night. The ambassador came up and snatched her bike, claiming it had been "abandoned," threatened her for "defacing public property," and said he could have her arrested for cursing.[jump]
The unfriendly ambassador puts her bike into his truck at the start of the tape, recorded by anti-war activist Melissa Hill.
"I have you on video stealing my bike," she says.
"No one's stealing your bike," he answers.
"Yes you are!" she yells.
He tells her that she had "abandoned" the bike and he doesn't know whose it is, 'causing her to yell back, indignant, "I was standing right there!" That's when he went into her real sins.
"You were defacing public property," he lectured, and then told her she could get her bike back at the first precinct.
After a few moments of back-and-forth, Hill tells them, "You are not cops."
Later, she says, "You're fucking stealing my stuff," to which the ambassador gave a sly reply.
"I can have you arrested for cursing," he said.
Apparently the employee gave the bike back to her after the video was taken -- but the damage to his career was done.
DID Chief Operating Officer Sarah Harris complained to Block by Block, a Kentucky vendor that technically employed the "ambassador," and he has since been stripped of his yellow jacket. It is unclear if he will continue to work for Block by Block.
"Our ambassadors' role is to provide assistance to people in need," Harris told City Pages. "We're never supposed to be in the role of enforcement."
Their mission, she added, is "to make sure our people feel welcome downtown."
The employee's name has not been released.