Deadly crash — a reflection of the lawlessness we’ve allowed to exist.

On Friday evening, five young college women were in Minneapolis shopping in preparation for a wedding the following day. As they drove on Lake Street, a vehicle that had just passed a State Trooper at 95 mph exited Interstate 35W, blew through a stop light, and broadsided the women’s car, killing them all. The suspect fled on foot to a nearby restaurant where he was later arrested. Read more about the crash here.

There are multiple storylines with this tragic event that deserve comment — the suspect’s criminal history, which includes previous criminal vehicular operation; the fact the suspect is the adult son of a controversial former DFL legislator John Thompson, who has been at the forefront of the anti-police movement; the promising lives of five young people snuffed out; tragedy in the Somali community; etc. Read one such storyline from American Experiment here.

I’ll focus comment on the continued lawlessness, specifically on our roadways, that we’ve allowed to exist.

It’s becoming an almost daily occurrence to read or hear about 100-mph fleeing incidents, deadly crashes, people bailing from moving cars and running across lanes of freeway traffic, offenders intentionally ramming police cars to initiate chases, and shots fired at police. 

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve written on this topic. Less than a year ago, another horrific weekend involving lawlessness on our roadways led to a similar article found here

Last year I wrote:

“It is rare to be on the road in the metro these days without witnessing someone driving aggressively, weaving in and out of lanes, passing others at 20 mph over the speed limit, blowing stop lights, etc.

It is also becoming a daily occurrence that one or more high speed chases occurs in our metro area involving either a carjacking suspect, a wanted fugitive, or just someone who decides to flee the police rather than pull over for a minor violation.”

“The lawlessness we are experiencing in our neighborhoods is also pervading our roadways. This is a particularly dangerous development, and one that will likely involve more innocent victims the longer it continues.

There are no quick fixes to this breakdown in lawful behavior on our roadways, but certainly a concerted effort by our court system to address it would make a big impact. Far too often a fleeing charge, when part of other crimes charged, gets dropped or sentenced as a concurrent penalty. Motor vehicle theft, reckless driving, and speeding are woefully addressed.

Swift and severe punishment for those who put us all in jeopardy on our roadways is our best hope. We deserve our court system to provide this hope.”

While they’ve been unacceptably slow to respond, there are signs that our criminal justice system and political leaders are starting to feel the heat.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty has announced commitments from her office to address auto theft and fleeing with more urgency. Police have also stepped up enforcement with details directed towards hot-rodding and auto theft. Police leaders have championed the need for more accountability of offenders. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lugar has begun prosecuting adult carjacking offenders in federal court.

But so much more is needed, and this is no time for the public to become complacent. Keeping the heat on our criminal justice system leaders, politicians, and the media can make a difference in whether we turn this situation around.

The more people learn about how our state is lacking in criminal accountability, the more corrective change is likely to occur. We can’t wait for tragedy to strike over and over before demanding change.

Weak sentencing policy and judicial departures from sentencing guidelines, weak correctional policy, weak conditional release policy, the steady drumbeat of “criminal justice reform.” The silent majority has allowed the activist voices in our state to dictate policy for far too long.

Minnesota’s penchant for progressive criminal justice system reform has betrayed our public safety. Recent tragedy has helped turn the heat up on our policymakers, providing momentum to move the pendulum back in the direction of accountability.

Recent events have fired up Minnesotans — we’d be wise not to waste the momentum that exists.