By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new survey shows an overwhelming amount of downtown Minneapolis residents don’t feel safe right now.

That same survey indicates public safety and policing will be key issues in the fall election for mayor and city council.

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The survey finds those who live in a downtown still boarded against riots and deserted in the pandemic are scared.

Ninety percent feel less safe and 70% say family and friends are scared to visit.

“What we found is people are walking significantly less. They feel constricted in that they’re not able to do all those things that they would like to do,” Merv Moorhead of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association said.

The survey by the Downtown Neighborhood Association is sharply critical of the Minneapolis City Council.

“This wasn’t a random sample and the instructions in the survey told people not to consider COVID,” Minneapolis City Council Member Steve Fletcher said.

Fletcher is one of the leaders of the defund the police movement.

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“This survey says that people don’t want alternative responses, they want a police officer responding to their call, not a social worker,” WCCO’s Esme Murphy said to Fletcher.

“Yep and it is my job to listen to everybody. I hear voices that say that, I also hear voices who tell me they’ve had very bad experiences,” Fletcher said.

“The way I read this survey, there are people who are blaming you for their fears about downtown Minneapolis,” Murphy said.

“Sure. I think part of that is probably a result of the way the survey was framed, but part of that is actually, that’s a really good reason that I support the charter amendment,” he said.

The charter amendment would put the Minneapolis police under the council’s, not the mayor’s, control. That charter proposal, the entire city council and the mayor are all on the ballot this November. Michael Rainville is running against Fletcher. WCCO asked Rainville how concerned the people he has talked to are about Fletcher’s views.

“They feel that he’s out of touch with the Third Ward, that his views are those of Time magazine or a Washington, D.C., think tank,” Rainville said.

“The reason we have elections is to get a fairer and more accurate measure of whether people agree or not,” Fletcher said.

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The survey also found that 60% of downtown residents have considered moving out of downtown because of safety concerns.

Esme Murphy