Last Friday night, lawbreaking activists marched on Uptown's Lake Street and illegally barricaded traffic for two hours, graffitied local businesses and terrorized the few people still willing to patronize that dangerous neighborhood at night. All without any — I repeat any — pushback from the Minneapolis Police Department.
What was equally disturbing was that the Star Tribune did not devote a single drop of ink to writing about this hellish episode in the hell world that has become Minneapolis at dusk. Nor was there a peep of protest from Mayor Jacob Frey.
What a slap in the face to weary Uptown residents and businesses that have bravely refused to give up on their neighborhood.
Have things become so bad in Minneapolis that this kind of infernal Friday night — unthinkable just a few years ago — is now not worth the attention of Star Tribune readers? Has law and order been so soundly surrendered that such dangerous disorder does not warrant any response from police nor the attention of the mayor?
I love Minneapolis. Despite its sad state, I go out of my way to support its restaurants and retailers. My parents still call downtown Minneapolis home even though their neighborhood looks and feels nothing like it did when they moved in. It breaks my heart to see the deterioration of our once-great city in such a short span of time.
But what's most disturbing is the seeming hopeless acceptance of the current state of things. When something like last Friday night's Uptown chaos garners no attention from politicians, the police nor this paper, the message to lawbreakers is clear: "Do whatever you want. We don't care." How feckless and foolish.
The problem with accepting decline is that the downturn will continue. These things don't just fix themselves — and matters in Minneapolis can and will get worse if coddled criminals continue to have their hands held.
It doesn't have to be this way. Minneapolis can be a functional city again — and its residents and businesses surely deserve that. But that will never happen if it remains so dangerous. Minneapolis leaders and this newspaper need to give the crisis of criminality the attention and seriousness it deserves so it can be dealt with instead of ignored. Then and only then will Minneapolis have a shot at better days.
Andy Brehm lives in St. Paul.