The Future in Ruins: Overwriting the Third Precinct

An international, autonomously organized Request for Proposals, informed by neighborhood assemblies, to re-imagine infrastructures of security in South Minneapolis, particularly the East Lake St. corridor and 9th Ward.

Antinote: Rooted in the neighborhood where George Floyd was murdered and where the 2020 Uprisings began, Confluence Studio has been working to bring People’s Assemblies into the cultural lexicon of South Minneapolis residents. The following Autonomous Request for Proposals (A-RFP) was designed by community members in response to the abuse our neighborhood faces at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, and those affiliated with the third precinct in particular.

The precinct building was famously burned to a crisp and has been left in ruins for the past three years, boarded up and fenced off with razor wire at the intersection of two of South Minneapolis’s busiest commercial corridors. Just weeks before the A-RFP and the associated People’s Assemblies were announced, the City of Minneapolis announced their own “community listening sessions,” in which residents were invited to weigh in on a community-dubbed false choice/manufactured consent process around where the City plans to rebuild its killer cop clubhouse. Despite extremely limited advertising and very short notice, residents turned out in droves to these meetings to call the City on their bullshit.

In May 2022, the Longfellow Community Council hosted a previous round of community listening sessions about what to do with the former third precinct site. The LCC wrote a report based on these sessions, which landed in City officials’ inboxes and seems to have languished there. The last time the City attempted to build a new third precinct station, the property owner at the proposed site caved to public pressure and revoked their deal with the City before the protest even happened. Three years have passed and still the charred ruins of this former police fortress sit abandoned, serving instead as a direct representation of the City’s neglect, and more importantly, of residents’ righteous indignation: for three years we have exercised a right of refusal on the City, rejecting their attempts at forcing an extremely unpopular and corrupt institution back into our neighborhood. The City seems to think that if they wait long enough, residents will forget or lose interest in the site, but instead what we learned at these “public enragement sessions” is that our community’s patience around this process has long run out. So, we are taking matters into our own hands.

An Autonomous Request for Proposals (A-RFP)

Minneapolis’ Third Police Precinct and its grounds have been abandoned and barricaded since the building was stormed on the evening of May 28th, 2020 by demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd. In light of the City of Minneapolis’ history of tactical inaction and strategic incompetence, often used as precursors towards fast-tracked bureaucracy, Confluence: An East Lake Studio for Community Design has launched an Autonomous Request for Proposals (A-RFP) to re-imagine the Third Precinct complex from the ground up.

This A-RFP, supported by a series of monthly neighborhood People’s Assemblies, is a cyclical process: it is a platform to radically re-imagine the intersection of security (defined broadly) and material infrastructure, and it is a vehicle for neighbors to consider that same infrastructure as a lens through which we can look at how we’re living now and how we might support each other in the future.

Process and Timeline:
The Future in Ruins: Overwriting the Third Precinct A-RFP is open to three proposal tracks:
– Professional
– Neighbor
– Youth

Letters of Intent (LOI) will open in late May for the Professional track and close in late summer. Professionals are broadly defined as: any person or group living outside the Minneapolis area with a focus on architecture, city planning, landscape design, artistic and / or critical practices. Professionals living in the neighborhood are invited to apply for either track.

No LOI will be needed for Neighbor and Youth tracks. Submissions will open in late June and will close in late summer.

In late Fall of 2023, submissions from all three tracks will be voted on by the neighborhood. The finalists from each track will then collaborate towards a shared vision. Members of Confluence Studio will be available to help facilitate the collaboration process between the three tracks. Upon completion of the collaborative proposal, a presentation will be made at a subsequent People’s Assembly and accompanying exhibition in early 2024.

Finalists in the Professional and Neighbor tracks will each receive $2,500 honorariums. The Youth track will receive a $1,500 honorarium. Travel and accommodations will be made available for the Professional track.

Narrative of A-RFP:

In late May of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, neighbors made their way down Chicago Avenue and along East Lake Street to gather around the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct. Almost instantaneously they were joined by others from around the city and further afield. A days-long standoff ensued wherein the demonstrators stood firm, exhibiting righteous anger and calling for justice. From the start, police retaliated with tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and physical violence, increasingly antagonizing the crowd. Outmatched and overwhelmed, the police retreated on the evening of May 28th. The Third Precinct building was subsequently stormed and burned.

Three years later, the Third Precinct complex remains fortified, enclosed in concrete barricades, steel fencing, and barbed wire. It stands a ruin, a material reminder of decades of terror and occupation at the hands of those stationed there. The ruins are a cypher for all that was and all that could be in the neighborhood. Its future is a guide for what’s to come, good or bad.

The fact that the precinct has remained a ruin is purposeful – a waiting game where the hopes of the city rely on recent memory to recede. And so, countering a long history of rhetorical manipulation and tactical inaction, followed by a fast-tracked bureaucratic process, Confluence: An East Lake Studio for Community Design has developed this call. An autonomous request for proposals to imagine the future of the Third Precinct complex.

The Studio invites architects, landscape designers, and artists from around the globe, as well as neighbors and youth, to submit proposals – anyone who can imagine a future wherein the charred husk of a deformed system can be transformed and re-imagined into something more giving and supportive than what came before.

The A-RFP will be supported by a series of local assemblies wherein a focus on the site might serve as a platform to consider the past and present conditions of the neighborhood and, furthermore, act as a vehicle for the collective imagining of a neighborhood designed and stewarded by those who live there. We highly encourage those who apply to engage the documentation and ephemera of these assemblies as source material for your proposals. Imaginings and interpretations of the future of the site, based on the experiences of those living the neighborhood, being the antithesis of the status quo in Minneapolis.

While Confluence Studio holds no official authority regarding the future of the Third Precinct we announce this call with a firm belief in the power of the radical imaginary and the full knowledge that nothing of merit ever gets accomplished while waiting for those in power to ask for your opinion or partnership.

Featured image: Posters reading “NO NEW THIRD. NOT NOW. NOT EVER. WE REMEMBER GEORGE FLOYD. WE DEMAND ABOLITION.” hang on the fence of the former 3rd precinct station in response to the City’s “community conversations” about the future of the site. Source: RLM Art Studio.

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