Most of the group of youths who terrorized Dinkytown over the weekend came from the suburbs, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara told a community meeting of concerned residents and business owners this week.
"Of those we made contact with, 35 are from outside Minneapolis and eight are city residents," O'Hara said Tuesday night. "These kids are coming from some pretty wealthy suburbs: Edina, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Woodbury, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka."
Minneapolis and University of Minnesota police, along with the State Patrol, responded to 11 incidents last weekend involving the same crowd of young people, officials said. Unruly teens inundated the area near the U, throwing rocks, fighting and harassing people several nights in a row.
A woman was assaulted while walking to her car in the 1200 block of SE. 4th Street, while fighting broke out in crowd of four dozen in the 300 block of SE. 13th Avenue. Two groups of teens were found fighting in the 1400 block of SE. 5th Street, and a large group harassed passersby nearby.
Abdikadir Daud Hashi, 18, of Edina, has been charged with disorderly conduct and shooting fireworks, both misdemeanors; he will have a hearing on May 22. Another man, a 19-year-old from Minnetonka, also was arrested and jailed on similar allegations.
Eight people, mostly juveniles, were cited and released at the scene. Six teens were taken downtown to the Youth Connection Center, a civilian-run facility for young people arrested for curfew violations and other low-level offenses to be held until picked up by their parents.
When U students go home for the summer, business invariably slows in Dinkytown, and misdemeanors typically go up. For years, residents and businesses have dealt with drag racing and episodes of coordinated shoplifting and dining and dashing around the start of summer.
It's become so routine that Blarney Pub and Grill owner Mike Mulrooney prepares for it by beefing up security, even though his actual business declines by half. "A backwards business model," he calls it.
What was truly alarming about last weekend's turmoil, he said, was the intensity of the physical violence. In one widely shared video from Saturday night, about seven young people kicked and stomped on a person curled up on the sidewalk outside Blarney's.
"It has risen to a point that it's even more scary," Mulrooney said, noting the young people throwing rocks at police and other random people Friday night, a masked group fighting Saturday night and continued disorder into Sunday.
"Until there's some type of consequence that combats it, it'll continue all summer long," he said.
'How do we curb this?'
Law enforcement officials over the years have tackled shootings and drag racing by shutting down Dinkytown streets for the weekend, said Kent Kramp, president of the Dinkytown Business Alliance and owner of two Raising Cane's restaurants near the U campus. Closing the streets curtails movement in and out of the area and is intended to prevent people from making a quick getaway after shooting guns or committing other crimes. Streets last year were covered with steel plates to discourage drag racers from doing donuts.
"But I don't think any of us were thinking there would be huge crowds of juveniles punching and kicking at will," Kramp said. "We don't need anybody coming in causing problems, driving people away, making people think it's not safe. It's just going to destroy the business that's left."
At Tuesday's packed community meeting at University Baptist Church, O'Hara referred to Hashi, the 18-year-old charged in connection with the mayhem, and said he had been arrested three nights in a row on charges of disorderly conduct, rioting and attempted auto theft. The statement elicited gasps from the room.
A panel of city and law enforcement officials — including Council Members Robin Wonsley and Mike Rainville, Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander, and Nick Juarez from the U's Department of Public Safety — offered ideas on extra patrols, traffic control, mobile live-feed cameras, increased lighting and civilian walking clubs. They said concerned residents can help direct more police resources to the area if they see something and call 911.
The teens taken to the Youth Connection Center talk to staffers about what's going on at home and why they're out at night, said Police Inspector Sean McGinty. But Minneapolis' youth development programs, many of them run by the city's Park Board, aren't going to affect kids from the suburbs, Rainville said.
"That's where the parents have to come in," he said.
McGinty noted that crime on the whole is trending down throughout the Second Precinct — which includes northeast and southeast Minneapolis, as well as Dinkytown — despite rapid population growth due to increased housing density and residents moving from other parts of the city.
Marcia Cotter of the Campus Safety Coalition, a parents group, said she's heard many of the same safety suggestions and strategies before. But it was news to her, she said, that most of the teens causing trouble in Dinkytown last weekend hailed from the suburbs.
"We recognize everybody's doing what they can with what they have, but it's frustrating that we never seem to get to how we're going to deal with the juveniles," she said. "What options do we have, how do we curb this before it gets worse, what consequences can they be held to?"