Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone was finally cleared by police on Wednesday morning after several shootings and acts of violence over the past few weeks, but in Minneapolis, several encampments that have popped up in city parks over the past few weeks are still full of protesters and random acts of violence. On Wednesday evening, a teenager was shot at an encampment in the city’s Peavey Park, even as police were warning park commissioners of the increased violence and lawlessness taking place around the city.
The shooting comes as Minneapolis park board members held a meeting Wednesday evening, discussing safety issues connected to encampments at Minneapolis parks, including Peavey and Powderhorn.
A park police officers speaking at the meeting said Wednesday’s shooting is just one of a number of assaults, shootings, and other attacks that have happened in recent weeks at parks.
That officer said the victim in Wednesday’s shooting was at the encampment when he was shot. Last week, park police said a minor was sexually assaulted at an encampment at Powderhorn Park.
Last week, kids who had gathered for football practice at Jordan Park in Minneapolis ended up caught in the crossfire of a rolling gun battle between people in two cars, though amazingly no one was injured.
The violence has showed no signs of letting up since bullets flew over Jordan Park, at N. 30th and James avenues. From June 23 to 29, 18 people were hit by gunfire, with nine of them being hit over this past weekend, police said.
Halfway through 2020, 207 people have been shot in Minneapolis, a significantly higher tally than the five-year average for the same time span, according to police data. The six-month homicide total stands at 27.
Police spokesman John Elder said that when officers responded to Jordan Park, the shooters were gone. No arrests have been made in any of the shootings or stabbings that day.
Carrie Heinrich was at the park with her 12-year old son when the shooting started. A couple of hours later, a visibly frustrated Heinrich took to Facebook and streamed a live video in which she pleaded for the city to get its act together.
“We need the cops,” said Heinrich, an emergency room nurse and former paramedic. “If you want to troll on [social media] and say dismantle the police, get off my page. … I have no respect for anyone who has never gone through this and then wants to go spit in a cop’s face. That’s who we needed tonight.”
Backing Heinrich’s point on reforming the role of police in the city, [Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria] Arradondo said, “In our city, the police play an important role in responding to violent crime. There is still a need for us to protect and serve our communities, and we will continue to do that in a manner that preserves the public’s trust.”
Police debate aside, Heinrich didn’t lose sight of who ultimately was responsible.
“Never again should these kids have to duck and dodge bullets while playing football,” Heinrich said in the video’s closing moments, her language punctuating rising anger. “What the hell is wrong with you people? Zero regard for life.”
Well, that is what’s wrong with some people. There’s no regard for human life; not the life of the person they’re shooting at from their car, the lives of the people hanging out in the park with their kids at football practice, or even their own lives. It’s a big reason why gun sales are soaring to record highs around the country at the moment. You’d have to be blind or work for a national news network to ignore the spike in violent crime in cities across the United States, and the attacks on policing have left many Americans scared and uncertain about how bad things might get.
So far, the city seems much more interested in disbanding the Minneapolis PD than the tent cities that have sprung up in parks in recent weeks, but I suspect that if the plan by the Minneapolis City Council to abolish the police force actually goes before the voters in the city, it’s going to be rejected handily. In public conversation it might be easier to nod your head and go along with the idea that the city’s police force can be replaced by an army of social workers and violence interrupters, but in the privacy of the polling booth I think city residents will choose to keep the department intact.