North Side safety summit examines ways to fight crime in troubled Minneapolis neighborhoods

  • Article by: MATT MCKINNEY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 19, 2014 - 7:05 AM

With warmer days coming, and typically more crime, public officials and faith leaders gathered to strategize.

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau, front, and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges in 2013.

Photo: JIM GEHRZ, Star Tribune

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Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau held a “Northside Safety Summit” Friday that was part workshop, part brainstorm designed to address entrenched crime patterns on the city’s north side — and head off the start of a crime wave that typically accompanies warmer weather.

Some 70 public officials including Mayor Betsy Hodges, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, police and school district leaders and others gathered at the Minneapolis School District headquarters on W. Broadway to talk about pervasive crime numbers and how to lower them.

“So often you get behind the curve and you don’t get folks like us together until there’s a polarizing incident and it’s, ‘Oh my God. Now what are we going to do?’” said Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek, who attended. “The idea was to say ‘OK, who’s got what resources and how can we leverage them?’ ”

The city’s North Side has seen one-third of the city’s violent crime and half of the city’s shootings over the past 14 years, according to police data. Violent crime rose 24 percent last year on the north side due to more assaults and robberies. Crime has centered around the Folwell, Jordan and Hawthorne neighborhoods.

And some warned this week that a spate of recent shootings could be the start to a renewed battle between two neighborhood gangs, including the shooting of Julian McAfee, 26, the son of Pastor Jerry McAfee, on Monday in north Minneapolis. McAfee was grazed by a bullet and not seriously injured, said his father.

McAfee said anti-crime efforts should be focused on talking to young gang members to prevent retaliatory shootings.

“We’ll start calling the brothers back together to patrol the neighborhood ourselves,” he said.

Similar efforts have been made in the past, usually after heartbreaking murders like that of 11-year-old Byron Phillips in 1996. Neighborhood foot patrols were among a list of efforts taken to calm city streets in the weeks and months after his killing.

Those initiatives in the past have relied on a combination of public and private dollars, with companies like General Mills stepping in to help.

“We’ve been in north Minneapolis for decades. We see it as our back yard,” said Ellen Goldberg Luger, executive director of the General Mills Foundation and a vice president of General Mills. She was in attendance Friday, as was her husband, U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger.

Luger said she would support anti-crime initiatives that align with the foundation’s goals working on hunger, nutrition, wellness and programs for youth.

A follow-up meeting was tentatively scheduled for September.

Speaking to reporters during a break in the day, Harteau said the point of gathering everyone together was simply to talk.

“If we start to work more collaboratively, I think we’re going to identify some places to make improvements,” she said.

“Our most violent crime areas still remain in north Minneapolis. Although we’ve made strides, we haven’t made the progress that we’d really like to see.”

Harteau said she plans to hold a similar summit in the future aimed at youth.

Matt McKinney • 612-217-1747

 

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