Minneapolis council members air frustrations as shootings reach 5-year high

Minneapolis City Council members aired their frustrations Tuesday about a spike in crime across the city that has shootings at a five-year high and the city's police chief acknowledging that criminals feel "emboldened."

Monday, a 17-year-old was murdered in Minneapolis--the second in three weeks. There have been 55 homicides this year, which surpassed the 48 from all of 2019. Already this year, 400 people have been shot in the city, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told council members during a Tuesday meeting.

“If we just stayed status quo right now, we will end this year with numbers that are absolutely unconscionable,” Arradondo said.

The violence comes at a tense time for relations between the council and Minneapolis Police. A "dismantle the police" movement endorsed by a majority of council members has stalled, and a rift between its former supporters was on display during Tuesday's council meeting.

"What I am sort of flabbergasted by right now is that colleagues who a very short time ago were calling for abolition are now suggesting we should be putting more funding and resources into MPD," Council Member Phillipe Cunningham said. "We know this is not producing different outcomes."

Arradondo said about 100 cops have left his agency in 2020, more than double the 40-45 normal separations in a given year. The number is certain to rise, given the number of police officers making disability claims after George Floyd's deadly arrest and the riots that followed.

Ron Meuser, an attorney who represents the Minneapolis Police Federation on disability claims, said his firm currently represents 175 Minneapolis officers who are making medical claims. Most are related to post-traumatic stress, he said.

The most immediate concern from council members appears to be MPD's response to the crime spike. Five members told Arradondo that constituents have heard from rank-and-file officers that they won’t respond to property crimes or enforce laws in certain areas of the city without more resources.

Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins described lawlessness in the area around 38th and Chicago, the site of George Floyd’s deadly arrest. Some residents have reported having to pay extortion money to get out of their own alleys, Jenkins told Arradondo.

"'This his is a no-go zone, we’re not coming there, meet us three blocks away,'" Jenkins said constituents have heard.

Council Member Jeremy Schroeder said some residents in his ward have taken up their own crime investigations in the absence of a police response.

"They’re wondering what they are paying for, to put it really bluntly," Schroeder told Arradondo.

Arradondo pushed back on a narrative that there aren't enough cops to respond to crime. Arradondo said he's reorganized MPD to maintain patrol staff strength at 535, which a police spokesman said is down from 554 on May 1, a 3 percent decline.

Monday's homicide victim

The teenager who was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Monday was an intern for Republican congressional candidate Lacy Johnson's campaign, a campaign aide said.

The 17-year-old was not doing campaign activities when the shooting happened. 

“It is shocking and unnecessary acts of violence like this that prove why change is more needed than ever in our community," the campaign said in a statement to FOX 9.