By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Enough is enough. That’s the cry from many who live in north Minneapolis, where a surge in the number of shots fired and people hit by gunfire is plaguing the community.

One of the latest victims, a 17-year-old, was shot in the head while pumping gas at the AmStar gas station on West Broadway and James Avenue North.

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Standing at the site where he was gunned down, a group of community leaders say they are fed up with the violence.

“So we are here to send a message to our young people that this is not how we live. This is not how we want to live,” said Don Samuels.

“I am tired of the gun violence. I’m tired of being a hostage in my home and a hostage in my community,” said Cathy Spann, the executive director of the Jordan Area Community Council.

It’s the community that must come up with solutions to stop the violence.

“If you need a job, talk to us. If you need food, talk to us. What is it? How do we resolve issues without gun violence? What have we become as a community? This is your community but yet we are killing each other,” said Spann.

Leaders believe working with the police is one of the best ways to put an end to senseless shootings.

“We have to work with law enforcement. We have to work with the mayor so we can correct what’s wrong and keep our babies safe,” said Sondra Samuel of the Northside Achievement Zone.

The group that assembled Friday represents nonprofits, business owners, churches, and boots-on-the-ground organizations. All have agreed to work together to attack the root of the problem.

“I guarantee you in north Minneapolis and south Minneapolis we can probably directly connect almost 70% of the stuff to maybe five or six families,” said Rev. Jerry McAfee, a pastor at New Salem Baptist Church.

McAfee believes targeting these families and helping them figure out employment, housing, and mental health status will lead to a big reduction in the number of shots fired.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has pledged his support and will release a safety plan early next week.

“Minneapolis, we are going to be partnering with the community. We are going to be partnering with police officers. We are going to be partnering with anybody who wants to prevent violence before it happens,” said Frey.

Until then, this group will pray for guidance from above on how to address the families and situations that keep the sound of gunfire ringing in the ears of northside residents.

Community leaders are looking for community members who are willing to step up to help the individuals and families caught up in this cycle of violence.

After that press conference, Minneapolis City Council Member Phillipe Cunningham said he’s “absolutely” at his “wits’ end” with the gun violence in his community.

Cunningham represents the city’s 4th Ward. That press conference with the mayor and community groups was in the city’s 5th ward.

Cunningham posted an e-mail he wrote to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on his Facebook page.

It said in part, “Why are Black lives in North Minneapolis not being prioritized urgently? If this kind of gun violence was happening anywhere in the city, there would be press conferences declaring, Enough is enough.”

Cunningham’s statement went on to say, “What is enough for us? When do we get to reach that threshold? More people have died at Logan and Lowry than 38th and Chicago. Where is our press conference?”

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Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey shared his reply to Councilmember Cunningham’s e-mail.

It said, in part, “If you want law enforcement officials stationed on the Northside, you know full well that is a request you can make – not just a thing you can complain about on Facebook. Feel free to send a draft of such a request to my office for review and support.”

Councilmember Cunningham’s full Facebook post is here:

I am absolutely at my wits’ end with the gun violence in our community, and like many of you, for a long, long time. Many folks have asked me what my plan is to stop the gun violence. In reality, as a member of a legislative body, I have limited authority to individually come up with a plan. I have been trying for over three years to get the kind of resources and attention necessary for our community to not have to suffer from all this gun violence, but have experienced nothing but politically motivated brick walls from those who do have the authority to do something. I have sent the Mayor the following email demanding a plan to stop the gun violence in North Minneapolis in a comprehensive way…

Councilmember Cunningham’s full e-mail is here:

Good afternoon, Mayor-
Last night, 78 shots were fired in one incident in my ward. Within a twenty-minute period, there were five other incidents of shots fired throughout the Ward last night, as well. I was informed by constituents that about two hours ago, an Amazon truck was hit with bullets near Loring School. This is just a few of the incidents that have taken place in the last 24 hours in just Ward 4. There’s also been a significant amount of gunfire in Ward 5, including a homicide yesterday. What is the plan for addressing gun violence in North Minneapolis for this summer and beyond? I brought forward a staff direction last year that has experienced barriers from MPD in implementation and we are just not seeing the kind of support necessary for successful implementation of our focused deterrence strategies more broadly. I cannot try to solve this gun violence all by myself. We cannot wait until we have 600 more officers or even just the 200 who have left since last year before something is done. Why are Black lives in North Minneapolis not being prioritized urgently? If this kind of gun violence was happening anywhere in the city, there would be press conferences declaring, “Enough is enough.” What is enough for us? When do we get to reach that threshold? More people have died at Logan and Lowry than 38th and Chicago. Where is our press conference? I am absolutely beyond frustrated and angry quite frankly at how it feels like citywide leadership has shrugged their shoulders at what we’re dealing with here because they don’t have to live in the middle of it every day. Mayor, you are the ultimate authority for public safety in this city. What is your plan to stop this? Where is the work for us to be doing this work comprehensively and based on evidence-based strategies and quality MPD surveillance and intel? I’ve seen you say in your talking points now how we need to be “building comprehensive systems of public safety” and “disrupting cycles of violence,” but we haven’t seen any evidence of that work here. I’m exhausted. It feels like I have tried to carry this work alone for over three years now, but without MPD, we don’t have a formal system of accountability involved in the work, and without that, the whole strategy of focused deterrence falls apart. Are we just expected to accept this level of violence? Are we just going to be told there’s nothing that can be done? I can’t be the one to reach out to the DEA or the ATF to send help. I can’t be the one to define a clear strategy to implement (I tried, but it essentially got rejected by MPD staff). I can’t be the one to bring in the additional capacity necessary for successful implementation of a strategy. What is being done to stop this violence? I want to know. My constituents want to know. We deserve better than this. I have also cc’ed Chief Arradondo and Director Cotton given their work is directly related to whatever plan of yours would be implemented.
CM Cunningham.

Mayor Frey’s full statement is here:

Councilman Cunningham: Thanks so much for the note. I was on the Northside earlier today, at a news conference hosted by community. The message we delivered? Enough is enough. So, we’re aligned on that much. The rest of your message is insincere at best and shallow political maneuvering at worst. That you published this e-mail immediately upon sending it makes discerning its intent relatively easy.

Over the last three years, I’ve been exceedingly disappointed not just with your inconsistency but the complete and utter lack of follow-through on the work at hand. You’ve declined every opportunity to partner and now seek to shift blame and save political face.

Your public commitment to defunding and abolishing the Police Department, your absolute lack of support for adequate police staffing levels (there is a long and clear record here), and your unmitigated inconsistency on this topic have detracted from the essential work at great cost to the city of Minneapolis.

You sell yourself short. Of course, as council members have done quite often when they are seeking support from other levels of government, there are ways to request it. If you want law enforcement officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives stationed on the Northside, you know full well that is a request you can make – not just a thing you can complain about on Facebook. Feel free to send a draft of such a request to my office for review and support. That is of course one of the virtues of your election certificate. I’ve asked you for your position (beyond empty rhetoric) on similar topics in the past and you have declined.

On a personal level, it is discouraging to see you so overtly centering yourself in this conversation. The notion that you – and you alone – are the one person working to solve this crisis (“I cannot try to solve this gun violence all by myself”) is an insult to every local elected official, every city staff – from MPD and OVP to 911 dispatchers – and every community member who has poured themselves into this work.

Amid historic staffing challenges, we’ve repeatedly outlined plans to maintain core enforcement and patrol services while increasing investments in the Office of Violence Prevention. We are consistently trying to do more with less for our communities who need it most. I would encourage you to support Chief Arradondo’s request for increased staffing levels moving forward, even where you have opposed such requests in the past. I would be happy to partner with you on developing a plan. Based on my experience attempting to work with you, I do not believe you are interested in doing that.

Again, thanks for the note.

Jacob Frey
Mayor, City of Minneapolis

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Reg Chapman