The post-George Floyd/Defund the Police world in Minneapolis is not a pretty sight. But a good barometer of the quality of life is the safety and security of neighborhood retail stores. These aren’t big box mega-retailers. Many of them have served the same neighborhood for decades and offer a touch of the personal in what is usually an impersonal world.
In addition to homicides, assaults, and other violent crimes skyrocketing in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the subsequent defunding of the Minneapolis police, there is the issue of robberies. While the number of robberies has increased, the capture of criminals responsible for them is way down. This has apparently emboldened the thieves to rob some stores multiple times.
For Woods Halley, operating his corner convenience store the last few months in southeast Minneapolis has been a harrowing experience.
His 8th Street Market, at 630 SE. 8th St., was robbed six times at gunpoint in October and November. Then in December, a concrete block was thrown through the window on the front door. None of his employees were injured, but five of them quit after the crimes.
“They were terribly upset and quite understandably,” said Halley, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota. “It was very painful, losing all of these people, some of whom had worked here for years.”
The number of robberies peaked in October at 27 — over three times more than the eight robberies in April of 2020.
Meanwhile, “Arrests for robbery-related offenses of all types fell to historic lows in Minneapolis last year – a drop of more than half from prior levels.”
While robberies are up in Minneapolis, corresponding arrests are significantly down. There were 330 robbery arrests in 2020 but 165 in 2021, a 50% decline.
A Minneapolis Police Department spokesman declined to comment on why robberies are up. Nor would department officials say how many robberies have been solved.
Halley said police told him they had made arrests in at least two of the robberies. In one case, police used fingerprints to track down a suspect. He said police indicated to him that some of the robbers were juveniles and some were adults.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has been backtracking furiously on hiring more police officers. While resisting the idea at first, Frey is now trying to make up for lost time. The city lost 300 officers following the unrest after the death of George Floyd, and finding enough qualified candidates to replace them is proving to be very difficult.
The city ran four hiring classes for officers in 2015 and received more than 1,000 applications, according to department statistics. Last year, it held six classes and got about 600 applicants. The first two classes this year “will likely be smaller than our ideal target of 40, just because of that smaller volume of applications,” Huffman said.
Minneapolis was once considered one of the most livable cities in the U.S. But with police under a microscope and criminals running wild, current conditions make Minneapolis not only dangerous but unlivable.