Down on the killing floor

This summer Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak contributed memorably to the city’s collection of fatuous quotes on the subject of crime when he assured citizens that “Minneapolis is a safe city for those not involved in high-risk lifestyles.” Among the high-risk activities leading to criminal victimization this summer have been sleeping at home in bed and riding a city bus. Today’s Star Tribune adds another installment to the saga of citizens irresponsibly engaging in high-risk behavior: “3 more shootings add to anger over crime.” David Channen and Rochelle Olson report:

Minneapolis police are trying to piece together whether something as simple as a rock-throwing incident led to the shootings early Friday of a 63-year-old woman and 11- and 15-year-old boys in a relatively quiet pocket of the Jordan neighborhood.
None of the victims appeared to be the intended targets.
Shirley Reinartz was asleep inside her house in the 3000 block of Thomas Av. N. when a bullet went through a ground-level window and hit her in the stomach about 1:40 a.m. She was listed in serious condition Friday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. The boys were found by police about a block away and taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The mayor has assured us that everything is beautiful in Minneapolis. Others have chimed in suggesting that there is no problem, but that whatever problem there may be is the fault of Republicans in the governor’s office and the state legislature. The article continues with comments by “city leaders” who aren’t quite so dismissive:

The incident has city leaders, especially those from the North Side, angry again over the level of violence in Minneapolis. Serious crime is up nearly 8 percent compared with this time last year.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again until things change, ‘It has become a dangerous city with a killing trend,'” [Republican] Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein said.
He argued that it’s a geographic issue. “It’s absolutely sad that we’ve let the North Side go to such a state,” he said. He argued that if the part of Minneapolis south of Minnehaha Creek had a fraction of the crime of north Minneapolis, there would be an electoral house-cleaning at City Hall.
Stenglein, who lives in northeast Minneapolis with his family, said gang graffiti and late-night street disturbances have arrived in his neighborhood.
He said for the first time, he and his wife have discussed the possibility of moving.
Some blamed the shootings on crime being pushed out of other parts of the city.
City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Dan Niziolek, an outspoken critic of the current Police Department leadership, said after the incident, “Why is the outcry not there?…The silence is deafening in regards to crime in Minneapolis.”
Niziolek and Stenglein fault the current policing strategies that include a STOP unit dedicated to targeting high-crime areas. “If we’re just putting out brush fires, we’re going to get further and further behind,” Niziolek said.
Council Member Barbara Johnson represents the city’s Fourth Ward, where these shootings occurred. She said the police are doing the best they can. She faults the judiciary, not the lack of opportunities or jobs.
“We have far too many people in our midst who have multiple — triple-digit — contacts with our Police Department who are out walking around,” she said. “Normal people cannot live with these people out walking the streets.”
She said criminals make appearances before judges, then get rescheduled, continued and forgiven. She believes some of it will change now that judges will have to campaign for their seats.
Council Member Natalie Johnson Lee, who represents parts of the North Side, mostly agreed with Johnson’s assessment. She added that guns have to come off the street.
Johnson Lee acknowledged the problem is complicated.
“I wish I had an answer, the magic wand; I’d wave it and we’d be done,” she said.

Natalie Johnson Lee is the Green Party’s gift to the Minneapolis City Council. For more of Lee’s deep thoughts, check out her 2003 “Green Party Response to President Bush’s State of the Union Address.” After thirty years of one-party Democratic rule, the two-party system has begun to reemerge in Minneapolis. There’s just one wrinkle; the only party competitive with Minneapolis’s clueless Democrats is Minneapolis’s lunatic Greens.


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