During my weekly live chat for Townhall Media VIP Gold members (available as a replay here) my colleague Ed Morrissey from Hot Air brought up a story he was working on about the attempts by the city of Minneapolis to reopen George Floyd Square, which has become either an “autonomous zone” or a no-go area depending on your perspective. As Ed reports, the city’s half-heartedly tried to reopen the square to traffic several times in recent weeks, but have done nothing to prevent activists from moving back in and shutting down traffic after work crews remove barriers and debris.
The Star-Tribune newspaper described the rinse and repeat process employed by Mayor Jacob Frey:
City crews returned early Tuesday to a Minneapolis intersection where a memorial to George Floyd was assembled after his death last year and worked to reopen it to traffic by removing debris and makeshift barriers, only to have activists barricade the area again.
Workers using front-end loaders and brooms arrived just before 5 a.m. and cleared the intersection where Floyd was killed, which is informally known as George Floyd Square, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The intersection has been closed to traffic since Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020, and some residents and businesses have expressed frustration that it has been closed for so long.
Last Thursday, city crews removed concrete barriers that blocked traffic at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, but community activists quickly put up makeshift barriers and resumed chanting the name of the Black man whose killing galvanized the racial justice movement.
As soon as workers left the area on Tuesday, activists moved back in, again blocking traffic with parked cars, trash cans, traffic signs and other items in a repeat of last Thursday’s scene.
Ed also quotes a story from the local FOX affiliate, which spoke to some residents in the area who describe bullet holes in their homes and offers to buy drugs every time they step foot outside of their home. Shootings and other violent crimes have become increasingly commonplace across Minneapolis since Floyd’s death last summer, but things appear to be particularly awful at the intersection of 38th and Chicago.
Ordinarily, you’d expect that Mayor Frey would call for more gun control laws before flflooding the neighborhood with police, who would in turn try to arrest anyone carrying a gun without a license. And truth be told, he and other city officials have been making similar statements for the past few weeks. They just don’t seem to be following through in any way.
A spokesperson for Mayor Jacob Frey said he is working with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to boost the city’s community and law enforcement resources and to convene a violent crime task force to focus on hotspots.
“The violence we have seen unfold across our city impacts entire families and every aspect of the community, including businesses and livelihoods,” the mayor’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The mayor’s been making the same kind of happy talk about reopening George Floyd Square, but every time the city tries to do so, activists just move back in and the cycle starts anew. Ed Morrissey says the reluctance by Frey and others to impose some order on the autonomous zone makes them look “weak and vacillating”, as well as “incentivizing more disorder and obstruction rather than restoring normalcy and services.”
All of that is true, but it’s also a conscious political choice on the part of Frey and the city council. They’re trying to walk a tightrope between sounding tough and staying woke, but ultimately they’d rather cede the city streets to everyone from amateur anarchists and casual Communists to drug dealers and gang members rather than be accused of fascism for protecting businesses and keeping the streets clear for traffic.
That leaves city officials in the position of blaming legal gun owners for the actions of criminals.
Minneapolis City Council Member Steve Fletcher, who represents the downtown area, called the recent increase in gun violence “unacceptable” and said that as long as firearms are readily available — whether through theft or legal means — no amount of police presence or community patrols will be able to put a stop to the violence.
He pointed to firearm thefts from vehicles as a contributing factor.
“Residents wondering what they can do to help can start by not leaving guns in their vehicles ever, no matter how they are secured,” Fletcher said in a statement.
Here’s a thought: maybe if criminals weren’t feeling so empowered thanks to the efforts of city council members like Fletcher, auto burglaries wouldn’t be skyrocketing in Minneapolis. Gun thefts from cars are a real problem, and I encourage gun owners not to leave their guns behind in their cars when they get home at night, but I’m not going to place the blame for gun thefts on the gun owner. It’s the criminal who decided to steal the gun who’s really to blame, and I can’t help but notice that Fletcher doesn’t have a damn thing to say about those breaking into cars all over the city.
Nope. Fletcher just blames the rise in crime on the fact that “firearms are readily available.” Of course, he can’t explain how to make firearms less readily available without using the police, so instead he claims that “no amount of police presence” can reduce violent crime.
Now, I happen to disagree with Fletcher about effective policing that can reduce crime while also reducing arrests and incarcertation, but let’s adopt his position for the sake of argument. Wouldn’t that also mean that no amount of gun control laws will be able to put a stop to the violence? In a nation of 100-million gun owners and more than 400-million legally owned firearms, there’s virtually no way to cut down on either figure without the heavy hand of law enforcement.
You can be in favor of law and order while also favoring fewer laws overall, but you really can’t support creating new, non-violent crimes while demanding less policing. One position is entirely consistent, the other is a hot mess. One position focuses on the most violent offenders, the other on legal gun owners. One works, and one doesn’t, and the results are plain to see in George Floyd Square and on the streets of Minneapolis.