Minnesota

Homeland Security announces two counterextremism grants for Minnesota

The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and a Minneapolis nonprofit will receive grants from a federal program called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that was previously in doubt, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced Friday.

Recipients in the $10 million grant program were first announced in the final days of the Obama administration, but groups including Minneapolis’ Ka Joog later rejected funding amid reports that the Trump Administration might focus the program solely on Islamist radicals, and not on other forms of extremism.

Friday’s revised list adds a $347,600 grant to the Hennepin County sheriff for “training and engagement.” The sheriff’s office was one of nine Minnesota organizations to apply when the program was announced last year. Heartland Democracy, a Minneapolis nonprofit that has worked with the Somali community, will receive $423,340 — more than the initial $165,435 awarded — for “developing resilience.”

Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Friday that his grant will be used to expand community engagement efforts and to “educate families, opinion leaders and service providers who have an opportunity to identify people at risk, and partner with law enforcement to intervene and disrupt this growing threat to our nation’s security.”

In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly cited a “global surge in terrorist activity” and said “in many ways our own backyard has become the battleground.”
After taking over Homeland Security, Kelly said he ordered a “thorough policy review of the CVE Grant Program to ensure taxpayer dollars go to programs with the highest likelihood of success.”

Kelly said Homeland Security will “closely monitor these efforts to identify and amplify promising approaches to prevent terrorism.”

The announcement kept in place the original CVE label, despite reports that the Trump administration was considering renaming the program to reflect a shift to target only violent Islamic radicalism. The reports, and controversy surrounding the president’s executive order barring travelers from nine Muslim-majority countries, prompted Ka Joog to reject nearly $500,000 from the program. Friday’s announcement, meanwhile, drew criticism for removing Life After Hate, a Chicago-based nonprofit that addresses far-right extremist movements.

According to records released by Homeland Security, nine Minnesota organizations were among the program’s 210 applicants, all but one from Minneapolis. They included Youthprise, a nonprofit that worked on Minneapolis’ Building Community Resilience pilot project last year; Mayo Clinic and Metro Transit.

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