Minneapolis’ residents face the consequences of lawlessness

Last month, I noted that business leaders in St. Paul were pleading with the city government to act to halt the rise in violent crime in the city. Minneapolis, too, is also seeing violent crime continue to surge. Official data, seen in Figure 1, show that there have been thirteen homicides in the city so far in 2021, well above the average of 5.4 for the same period in the previous five years and even well above the eight recorded to this point last year, which went on to be a the city’s deadliest year on record since 1995.

Figure 1: Homicides in Minneapolis from January 1 to March 9

Source: City of Minneapolis

And, just as in St. Paul, this increasing level of violence is having a negative effect on the city’s economy. Yesterday, WCCO reported from the area around 38th and Chicago Avenue:

“People don’t feel safe, they are selling their homes, they hear gunshots and they know the police are not coming into the neighborhood,” said Sam Willis Jr.

Willis, owner of Just Turkey, and Willie Frazier, owner of Finish Touch Boutique, both own businesses within feet of where Floyd took his last breath.

The owners believe their stores are suffering from a lack of customers because of the recent violence.

“It could happen anytime yesterday, like he mentioned it happened at 1 o’clock in the afternoon and it was 20 shots fired, a lady and her three children ran into my restaurant,” said Willis.

“Two of my customers had to get down on the ground yesterday because of gunfire,” said Frazier.

The area of four-square blocks surrounding the intersection, from 37th to 39th Streets South and Columbus and Elliott Avenues East, has been blocked off by Minnesota Department of Transportation cement barricades since the first week of June. Its is now an ‘Autonomous Zone’ which has become “a no-go zone for cops.” The Mayor and Council continue to plead with ‘community leaders,’ begging them to allow city authorities back in. This has now been going on for over seven months.

WCCO reports that:

…these business owners believe [the barricades] protect the people who are doing wrong.

“Where they got the street closed off at if they find out the police can’t come in there, so whatever wrongdoing they did out here outside the zone, once they make it to the zone they free police can’t get them,” said Frazier.

Both Frazier and Willis want more to be done to protect lives and bring business back to the area.

“You get shot in the zone no ambulance can’t come in there, nobody can come in there and get you. I don’t know if a building burns down, I don’t know if they will let a fire truck come in, they might let it burn down to the ground,” Frazier said.

“We know this is a prime location, you got visitors coming from all across the world and for them to experience gunshots and all types of violence is putting a black eye, not only on our state, but yet alone the city of Minneapolis,” said Willis.

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