Jul 6, 2022 - News

Minneapolis city leaders condemn "reckless," violent July 4 incidents

Illustration of police lights shown through the shape of a police hat.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The mayhem and violence that broke out in Minneapolis on July 4 has sparked widespread condemnation and calls for action, with one key council member suggesting Gov. Tim Walz should mobilize the National Guard for additional law enforcement support.

Driving the news: At least seven people were injured, some critically, when gunfire broke out at Boom Island Park late Monday night.

The big picture: These incidents reinforce growing concerns about crime in the city, and law enforcement's response.

What they're saying: Mayor Jacob Frey condemned what he called a "callous disregard for residents' safety," as he pleaded for families and friends of the youth involved to help hold them accountable.

  • "The kind of violence, the recklessness and in some cases, idiotic behavior that we saw shouldn't be tolerated," Frey told reporters at a news conference. "And let me be clear, it won't be tolerated."

The response: MPD leaders said at a news conference that the number of separate incidents, hostile crowds and presence of industrial-grade fireworks hampered their efforts to quell the violence.

  • Interim Minneapolis police chief Amelia Huffman said officials are exploring whether they can deny or limit access to parks and other areas that are hot spots for trouble after hours.

Between the lines: While police officials say they had normal staffing levels Monday, with more than 80 on duty, MPD continues to grapple with a serious officer shortage sparked by an exodus that followed the murder of George Floyd and subsequent civil unrest.

The intrigue: Council Member Michael Rainville, who represents both Boom Island and the Mill District, told Axios he wants the mayor to ask Walz to call in the National Guard to put an end to "massive groups" of young people that are "overwhelming our local law enforcement."

  • "The truth is the city of Minneapolis does not have enough law enforcement to keep ourselves safe," said Rainville, who told Axios that he witnessed youth shooting off fire crackers at Gold Medal Park on Friday night. "Someone's gotta help us. There's gotta be adults in the room."

Reality check: The National Guard has limited powers to address local crime — soldiers cannot make arrests themselves, for example — and the mayor's office says that while they welcome assistance from other law enforcement agencies, he has no plans to formally request the Guard at this time.

  • When asked for comment on Rainville's idea, a spokesperson for the governor said Walz has already "directed state agencies, including the State Patrol and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to provide public safety support in Minneapolis."

What to watch: Expect these high-profile incidents to become fodder for ads and attacks in the upcoming midterm campaigns.


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