The consequences of increased violence in Minneapolis

The rise in violence in Minneapolis is having predictable effects. A growing number of people feel ‘unsafe’ in downtown; businesses are looking to leave; so, it seems, are individuals, as rents seem to suggest. WCCO reports:

The once-burgeoning downtown Minneapolis can be hard to recognize these days: empty storefronts, empty sidewalks. And on several nights, unrest has filled the streets.

Shaun LaBelle is an international jazz recording artist. He’s traveled the world, but calls downtown Minneapolis home.

“I miss the interaction with restaurant owners and all my friends,” LaBelle said. “It’s sad.”

He says that could now change.

“Now because of what’s going on with the pandemic, and now the civil unrest, in my condo building downtown we have a record 21 lock boxes. We’ve never had this many people leaving the building. It’s shocking,” LaBelle said. “They’re selling their units because they don’t want to live in an unsafe environment.”

It seems all residents agree that their neighborhoods have changed. It was just a few short months ago that downtown was essentially thriving. According to the Minneapolis Downtown Council, more than 51,000 people lived downtown as of 2019. It’s a number that had gone up 60% since 2006.

LaBelle says he’s not sure he’ll change his address, but believes something needs to change.

“We need people to follow law and order, and we need people to treat everybody fairly and equally,” he said.

This last point is crucial. As I wrote last week:

Increased crime, vandalism, and disorder – even just the perception of it – imposes economic costs. If people feel unsafe, they will go elsewhere and they will take their money and jobs with them.

The authorities in Minneapolis – the mayor and the city council – must act to arrest this increase in violence.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.