As members of the Minneapolis City Council continue to push to abolish the city’s police department, Mayor Jacob Frey is moving in the opposite direction. In the wake of a staggering rise in violence and shootings across the city, Frey announced on Monday that the city’s police department is going to be working with other law enforcement agencies from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office to the FBI, ATF, and Secret Service in an effort to restore some semblance of peace to city streets.
“The violence and lawlessness that we’ve seen the last few days is not acceptable in any form,” Frey said. “Residents, businesses and all that choose to be in Minneapolis for any reason deserve to feel safe.”
Police Chief Medaria Arradondo declined to reveal how the other agencies will interact with his department, but he said it would include being a visible presence as well as providing intelligence.
Arradondo, the city’s first black police chief, made a point to remind the public that many of the gunshot victims “are members of the African-American community … young men. Their lives are not disposable. This cannot become our new normal.”
According to the Star-Tribune newspaper, 111 people have been shot in the city in the past four weeks, including twelve people shot in one incident in the city’s Uptown neighborhood over the weekend. Nine more people were shot on Monday in three separate incidents.
Monday afternoon saw police at three scenes of gunfire. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., ShotSpotter technology recorded the sound of 41 rounds at N. 16th and Newton avenues, police said. One person went to the hospital in critical condition, while three others came away with noncritical wounds. Then shortly after 4 p.m., four people suffered gunshot wounds in a commercial stretch in the 600 block of W. Broadway. Another person was injured by gunfire shortly before 7 p.m. at 25th Ave and 4th Street.
Two people were also stabbed, one fatally, in the 500 block of Nicollet downtown Monday afternoon.
WCCO-TV reports that the city’s Shot Spotter system has logged 1,600 shots fired over the past month, and many residents who may have been on board with abolishing the city’s police department a month ago are speaking up now about the need for a greater response from officers.
[Dustin] Sanchez, a father or four, says his family chose the area because of walkability and convenience. Lately, he says it’s been a hotbed of tension and frustration.”
“There is like zero authority here. We’ve called 911 a couple of times and they told us we were on our own because they don’t have people to come down and help. There is no help with city officials or police right now. There are literally citizens trying to keep people off our block right now, keep people off our street,” Sanchez said. “I just want to have a family and live here and enjoy here in our community, watch it continue to grow.”
Kory Harris is another concerned neighbor.
“Have some common sense,” Harris said. “There’s no need for the violence, we need to come together.”
City leaders say officers responding to shootings have had bottles and rocks thrown at them. But at Broadway and Lyndale avenues, community activists urged people to partner with police. Lisa Clemons and Jamar Nelson are with the group A Mother’s Love. They want to work with law enforcement to end violence and are upset that Minneapolis City Council members want the department disbanded.
Gun sales are still brisk in the Twin Cities, and you’ll still find plenty of armed citizens protecting themselves, their families, and even their neighborhoods as police continue to be confronted with violent protesters as they respond to calls. In order to address the gang members and violent criminals who are no doubt emboldened by the city’s response to the looting and rioting in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, however, the city is going to need more than armed citizens acting in self-defense. They need a law enforcement agency empowered to make arrests, and a criminal justice system that will treat violence seriously. You can’t have that if your police department’s been abolished and replaced with social workers, no matter how hard-working and well-meaning they might be.