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Increasing crime rates and a growing sense of lawlessness are the biggest challenges facing our state, but Gov. Tim Walz is doing everything in his power to ignore, deflect and change the subject. He has good reason to, judging by the latest Thinking Minnesota poll conducted June 2-6, 2021. Fifty-five percent of poll respondents do not approve of Walz’s response to riotous behavior, with only 39 percent approving. This is a complete reversal from the June 2020 Thinking Minnesota poll where 59 percent approved of Walz’s handling of last summer’s riots.
Interviewed on WCCO television on July 11 — the last time he was even asked about gun violence — Walz downplays both the issue of rising crime and the state’s ability to do anything about it. He gets some help from reporter Esme Murphy framing the issue:
Walz: It’s happening everywhere, and we need to find answers.
Murphy: It is clearly happening everywhere, but let me ask you: Can the governor really do anything about this, can the state really do anything about this? Because that’s what people are calling on you to do.
Walz: The state can be partners in this, they absolutely can. This is personal for me. One of the grandfathers of one of the children who died has become a good friend of mine and he is not just heartbroken, he is angry. He’s angry that this happened, he’s angry we haven’t found who it was. The state’s role, we have the State Patrol that’s our predominant, on the trunk highway system. But we can help with BCA, we can help with information, and we’re using Federal relief dollars to pump money in, we put $15 million to public safety on the front end.
Making sure that we’re breaking up these, whether it’s gang activity or whether it’s trying to figure out why there are so many guns on the street and give support to local police
Esme: So you can put money into local police, but you’re not talking National Guard here
Walz: Well, the role of the National Guard can be when you have large-scale civil disturbances you can use those type of things, but the National Guard is not authorized as a police force, they have to be accompanied by police and can do certain things when the situation is large.
But that’s not the long-term fix. The long-term fix is working in partnership with these local communities, supporting local police, supporting local intervenors that are out there on the street and then we have to go back upstream — why do we have so many kids with guns in their hands instead of doing things we want them to do? So the state can help assist.
The state can help assist. But not lead. Walz is providing no leadership or focus to the most important issue facing the state. That’s true in this interview, and it’s true when you examine Walz’s public statements, tweets and press releases.
Walz produced 217 press releases from Jan. 1, 2021 to July 15, 2021. Almost half of them (101) had to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, a topic he’s very comfortable talking about. Of the remaining 116 press releases, only 14 had anything to do with crime, with none mentioning the increase in violence in Minneapolis:
It’s the same story with Walz’s Twitter profile. Walz authored 541 tweets since the beginning of the year, and 53.6 percent are about COVID. Five tweets — less than one percent — even mention the rise in crime throughout the Metro area.
To be fair, Walz does address crime in other states:
He also weighed in with concern over violence against Asian Americans:
And he tweeted about violence in Buffalo, MN:
Protecting the media from getting hurt during rioting has also been a top concern for Gov. Walz, reflected in this tweet:
If you’re Asian, a journalist, live in the exurbs or even another state, Walz is very concerned about your safety.
A whopping 81 percent of Minnesotans are concerned about crime, according to the most recent Thinking Minnesota poll. 80 percent believe crime has gotten worse in Minnesota. Judging by Walz’s official public statements, his priorities are out of touch with the people he represents.