Minneapolis Violence Interrupters are not interrupting much violence

One of the most visible responses to the dramatic increase in violent crime in Minneapolis has been the city’s attempt to “interrupt” crime by hiring citizen groups to patrol the streets wearing brightly colored t-shirts. Grants to hire teams of well-meaning “violence interrupters” were awarded to seven local community organizations with a $2.5 million annual appropriation from the City Council. Team members are paid $30 per hour and work five hour shifts six nights a week patrolling the streets on foot.

In more peaceful times, working with community groups to prevent violence sounds like a worthy endeavor. But in Minneapolis circa 2021, diverting $2.5 million a year from the police budget for anything that doesn’t involve arresting and prosecuting the people committing violent crime is insane. Which is why this expenditure is nominated for a Golden Turkey award.

When the program was launched, City Council Representative Phillipe Cunningham told WCCO TV: “The intention is for this to actually stop the violence, stop the guns from being shot so that the police don’t even have to show up in the first place.” Perhaps support for this program is one of the reasons Cunningham lost his seat on the council on Nov. 2.

One of the “violence interrupters” was fired after a video emerged showing him beating up a customer at Cub Foods. Another was arrested for assaulting a customer at a separate Cub Foods store. Cub recently replaced off-duty police officers with peace workers for store security. 

Even liberals who supported the ‘abolish the police’ movement are not convinced the violence interrupter approach is working. One of the groups receiving funding, Push for Peace, was recently ridiculed on Twitter:

The headlines and murder rate do not support city officials’ claim that the violence interrupter idea is an evidence-based scientific approach. In a telling sign, the MinneapolUS Violence Interrupters were abruptly pulled from the streets in November 2020 as violence intensified. The city said it was due to cold weather (cough cough).

As the city experienced record crime rates for murder, carjacking and other violent behavior, Minneapolis doubled down on the 2020 pilot program and put teams of violence interrupters back on the streets for the summer of 2021. The epic failure of this program is worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy and a Golden Turkey nomination.  

Voting has begun in our semi-annual Golden Turkey contest — click here to choose the winner.