By 1995 gangs had unleashed sufficient mayhem in Minneapolis that the New York Times dubbed the city “Murderapolis.” After implementing a Giuliani-style program of broken windows policing at the end of the 1990’s, the Minneapolis police had retaken the streets and substantially reduced violent gang-related crime. However, in 2001 and 2002 the Minneapolis police retreated in the face of a campaign against purported racial disparities in traffic stops and searches waged by the Minneapolis-based Council on Crime and Justice and furthered by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The results were predictable. In the fall of 2002 we wrote two columns for the St. Paul Pioneer Press — “Silence of the liberals” and “Gangs of Minneapolis” — discussing the return of gang-related murder to Minneapolis.
The Council’s latest handiwork — “Low Level Offenses in Minneaopolis: An Analysis of Arrests and Their Outcomes” — extends its opposition to another of the keys to taking serious offenders off the streets,the enforcement of low-level offenses. (The report is based on 2001 data.) The Star Tribune article on the council’s November 2004 report (“Blacks are 15 times more likely to be cited for low-level crimes, study finds”) rehashes some of the relevant history, documents the Star Tribune’s own contribution to the racial disparities campaign, and features quotations from the compliant Minneapolis police chief who faithfully observes all the reigning taboos.
This morning’s Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the latest intallment of the gang restoration in Minneapolis: “2 killed ‘gangland style’ in north Minneapolis.” Because the Star Tribune quickly makes its articles inaccessible, I’m taking the liberty of pasting in the article by Terry Collins and Joy Powell below:
Two men were shot and killed “gangland style” in a north Minneapolis restaurant late Friday afternoon, prompting community outcry about increasing violence on the city’s North Side.
Witnesses reportedly told police that a man walked into the restaurant and shot a man seated at a table in the head, then went toward a door, where he shot an apparent bystander.
The gunman remained on the loose Friday night as Police Chief Bill McManus made a public plea for help.
“This is one of the most obnoxious and heinous crimes since I have been here,” McManus said. “The faster you call us, the faster we can get this solved. …We will not stop until we have someone in custody.”
The men were gunned down inside the Penn Best Steak House, 3010 Penn Av. N., in the Jordan neighborhood about 4 p.m. Capt. Rich Stanek said one victim appeared to be in his late teens or 20s and the other was in his 60s.
Chief Bill McManus at the scene of Friday’s shooting.Richard Tsong-taatariiStar TribuneIt appears that the younger victim was the intended target, said Lt. Lee Edwards, commander of the homicide unit. More than two dozen investigators were working the case, he said.
“We’re confident that we will find the shooter or shooters,” Edwards said late Friday.
Police seized four surveillance cameras from the Family Dollar Store that captured images of the killer, a store manager said.
The manager, who asked not to be identified for safety reasons, said that the store is in the same building as the restaurant and that the killer passed through a hallway between the two businesses to enter the steak house.
While police declined to say whether the shooting was gang-related, Third Ward Council Member Don Samuels, who arrived moments after, called it a “gangland style” shooting.
“The community cannot stand for this type of brazen act,” Samuels said, again sharing his frustrations about yet another shooting on the North Side despite ongoing efforts by the community and the police.
“The community cannot retreat in fear. We have to take it back,” Samuels said.
The shootings are the ninth and 10th homicides this year in Minneapolis and come on the heels of several gang-related killings on the North Side during the typically calm winter months. The Fourth Precinct, which handles the North Side, had 29 of the city’s 54 homicides in 2004, compared with nine in the precinct and 46 citywide in 2003.
Stanek said police called in community leaders such as Spike Moss, Sherman Patterson and the Rev. Jerry McAfee of New Salem Baptist Church to help gather information.
“They have a relationship with the community that sometimes we don’t have,” Stanek said. “We are pulling out all stops. We all have the same goal to find out who committed this brutal crime.”
Police asked anyone with information to call the homicide unit at 612-673-2941.
Five or six people who were apparently in the restaurant were questioned immediately; another two dozen people who were in the area were taken to a police station via bus for questioning. Yellow tape cordoned off a two-block stretch surrounding Penn Avenue.
Moss said that the slayings represent the need for even more police resources: “We’re going to pay and this will continue until there is change.”
Moss said he wants pastors at nearby churches to plead with their congregations on Sunday to speak up if they know anything and encourage them to help stop the violence.
The shootings frightened local residents.
“It’s getting terrible around here,” said Betty Lewis, a 61-year-old retiree who was napping when the gunshots woke her.
Friday evening, yellow police tape remained around the crime scene, and three teenage girls stood crying on a busy corner, worried if a relative was one of the victims. Just three years ago, when Lewis moved from Chicago, she said it was a nice, safe neighborhood.
Not long ago, a slaying victim’s body was found in an alley along nearby Queen Avenue, and another time, police chased a suspect, who crashed in an alley near her residence. And last year, someone stole Lewis’ car from outside.
“I just want to be safe,” she said. “I got to the point where when I hear things, I don’t look out my window right away, in case it’s still going on. If I should see it, I don’t want to be a person who’s seen things and they turn around and look at me.”