Minneapolis led the charge to ‘defund the police’ last year spurred on by hometown Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and overmatched city leaders. Other Dem-controlled cities soon followed and now those cities are reaping the rewards. A crime wave is sweeping across the country from New York To Chicago To Minneapolis To Los Angeles and Portland. The numbers tell a harrowing tale.
According to the most recent police statistics, the number of people shot in Minneapolis went up nearly 90% compared with the first half of last year. Homicides skyrocketed from 22 to 40 in that same period. At the same time, this year has seen violent crime arrests drop by about a third with 400 so far compared with about 600 at this time last year.
Jason Sole, a Hamline University professor and onetime head of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter asked why leaders “wait for the violence to actually start saying, ‘we’re creating a whole new program.’ ”
Because what failed mayor Jacob Frey wants to do now – talk about creating a new public safety plan.
From The Star Tribune:
Department officials say it is no coincidence that the rise in crime comes after the departure of at least 200 members of the city’s police force — through retirements, resignations and medical leaves in the months since Floyd’s death. Only 19 people were in a new class of cadets that just hit the streets. Staffing shortages mean that officers are spending less time doing the type of “proactive policing” that can help fight crime, while detectives are carrying such high caseloads that some shootings with no obvious suspect sometimes aren’t even assigned, officials say.
A council subcommittee last week signed off on an additional $5 million in police funding, a move that if approved by the full council would offset some of the cuts it made to MPD funding last year.
Ayolonda Evans, director of community response and education at the gun violence prevention group Protect Minnesota, agrees with the long-term goals of the defund movement, but worries that in its rush to end the reliance on police, its proponents don’t have clear answers to the gun violence in a city where roughly four out of every five gunshot victims are Black men. While many people of color don’t trust the police, they want some sort of response when gunshots ring out in their neighborhoods, she said.
“Instead of this ‘defund the police’ frame, it’s important that we talk about investing in Black families,” said Evans.
Like the recent child victims and the St. Thomas student, a growing number of those struck by gunfire are innocent bystanders, police say. The carnage has included the shooting of a youth soccer coach who was leading practice when a wayward bullet struck him in the rib cage. Another three people were shot, two fatally, when gunfire broke out during street racing events. And a 53-year-old man was shot in the neck, caught in the crossfire of the occupants of two cars shooting at each other.
Thurman Barnes, assistant director of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, said that the new generation of activists who led the movement sparked by Floyd’s death have opened many people’s minds to the idea that some problems have solutions outside law enforcement. But the recent nationwide rise in crime could test that progress, as politicians and police chiefs push for quick fixes amid community backlash, he said.
“We don’t ever talk about social determinants of health when we talk about gun violence: keeping kids in school, access to education and wealth — and I’m not talking about a mansion here, I’m talking about keeping the lights on in your life,” he said.
On a recent night, Marcus Smith was tending to a makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, candles and balloons at the corner of N. 36th and Penn avenues, where 6-year-old Aniya Allen was mortally wounded when a bullet flew into the car in which she was a passenger. Having marched in Black Lives Matter rallies in the past, Smith said that he understands that police violence and community violence are separate issues. But he still feels that many people have grown inured to Black lives lost to the latter.
He said he had grown so frustrated by the conversations around public safety being dominated by those whose daily lives weren’t shaped by gunfire, that he decided to start his own neighborhood watch group, called Black Lives Matter da Streetz.
Referring to Aniya’s death, he said, “An angel was taken from us, and people act like it’s normal.”