MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The city of Minneapolis has been the site of nine murders in almost as many days, including three between late Thursday and early Friday evening.

The gruesome stretch puts Minneapolis at 31 homicides in 2022 as of Saturday afternoon. In 1995, the city earned the nickname “Murderapolis” after posting 96 homicides in a single year. This year’s numbers are on pace to match or exceed that total.

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“We want a safe community. We are going to fight every day for a safe community,” said Minneapolis Police Public Information Officer Garrett Parten while on the scene of a shooting Friday morning. “We can’t do it alone. We need everybody’s help.”

Parten pointed to a “proliferation” of guns in the city, saying the department has taken nearly 300 off the street since January.

Police records show 26 of the 31 homicides to date in 2022 involved a firearm. City data also shows shots fired calls are up over 1,000 than the previous three-year average.

“The only way we get this turned around is we make it very clear that you’re not going to get away with this kind of crime,” said Parten while at the scene of a shooting near North 33rd and Knox avenues Wednesday.

“It is shocking,” said Sasha Cotton, who has served as the director of violence prevention in the City of Minneapolis since 2019. “The violence is unacceptable. We definitely need to be all collectively working together to address it.”

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Cotton says guns do play a factor in the increase in homicides, which have increased steadily since 2019. They don’t, however, tell the entire story.

“We saw the unrest that impacted our communities in ways we’re still grappling with after George Floyd was killed,” Cotton said during a Zoom call Saturday. “The pandemic and the fallout from COVID has left our children in a really difficult situation around education and recreation.”

Cotton says while the increased investment to violence prevention has paralleled the increase in crime, her office is still making strides.

“While the (homicide numbers) are high, how many murders and other serious of violence have been prevented that haven’t been captured?” she said. “We do believe the investment will see some long-term outcomes, and we know that quantifying prevention can be very difficult.”

In the coming days, Cotton says the office of violence prevention plans to utilize more violence interrupters and other resources to areas throughout the city. Her main goal, she says, is preventing retaliatory violence from happening.

Cotton says she also plans to meet with city leaders in the coming days to determine next steps.

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“Yes, violence has happened, and it is tragic,” she said. “But we have to recover. We have to work together, we have to be community, because we know that it is people that are the sole source of prevention.”

Adam Duxter