Facing ongoing crime, Minneapolis' Phillips neighborhood taking matters into their own hands

Residents in a south Minneapolis neighborhood say enough is enough with the crime happening on their streets.

The Phillips neighborhood is unified and putting fear aside in an effort to reclaim their streets. Residents said they feel forced into taking shifts to guard the block they say has been taken over by criminals.

"We just stand at the barricades and sometimes there will be three cars at a time trying to get in to buy drugs, and they don’t know yet that this block is closed off for drug dealing today," said resident Tim Springer.

Neighbors say crime has been an issue in the area of 18th Avenue South and 29th Street East for a couple of years, but now it's so bad that residents can't simply live their lives.

"Sexual acts being done out in the open in the street when there’s kids and families there. People being robbed at gunpoint, drug selling, drug dealing, pimps," resident Tania Rivera said. 

"They pull a gun on me, they pull a gun on my kids, they took my daughter's wallet, they took her car keys," resident Iglan Ahmed added.

Many people are frustrated with City Council member Alondra Cano's lack of response or interest in the matter. Her office declined to comment Tuesday.

"She says we’ve had meetings where we invite the leaders of our community that are supposed to keep our neighborhoods safe, and if they do come, they come and promise things and never follow through with it, and now they’re just completely absent," resident Eulalia Gallardo said.

But neighbors also said Minneapolis police aren't helping, though an MPD crime prevention specialist gave the residents tips. In an email, the specialist wrote that "You all need to take charge of this situation. There is nobody out there who will swoop in an save the day for you - 911 responders in acute situations, yes, but the long-term solutions have to be organic."

So, neighbors are staying vigilant and visible, recording what they see, while some have guns and a permit to carry.

"They have to show up with arms. They’ve started guarding their house with rifles - whatever it was - and it’s a crazy scene to see that more neighbors are looking into that possibility of getting permits getting weapons because we don’t have anyone else to rely on," Rivera said.