Sunday night’s scene outside Allianz Field represented recent extremes in St. Paul.
As a record crowd streamed out of the gleaming new stadium after a Minnesota United playoff game, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stood nearby, holding an impromptu news conference to respond to the latest shootings to shake the capital city.
“This has to stop right now,” Carter said. “St. Paul has been in a cycle of violence for far too long.”
On that, everyone can agree. Twenty-four people have been killed in St. Paul so far this year, a tragic total that already ties the decade’s deadliest year, in 2017. Many more, including the two survivors of Sunday’s crime, have been shooting victims.
Carter was correct in saying that the violence, not the venue, should be the focus.
“It’s not that it happened at Allianz Field,” he said. “What’s heartbreaking is that it happened in our city at all.”
And yet it must be noted that a number of recent shootings have occurred on or around University Avenue, a literal and figurative artery that’s pumped so much energy and investment — much of it transit-oriented — into the city.
Gun violence is shocking and unacceptable anywhere. But the risk to human life is even higher in a corridor that attracts so many people. And the economic hit could be considerable, too, if people shun this vital avenue. Just ask business owners in parts of downtown Minneapolis who are concerned about the impact of a spike in violence in commercial areas.
Such an outcome would erode St. Paul’s ability to pay for an increased police presence that’s clearly needed. Carter has said he’s considering asking the City Council for more public safety funding in the 2020 budget — a move the Star Tribune Editorial Board would support.
Yet the mayor deserves credit for recognizing that spending more on the Police Department alone won’t solve the gun violence problem. “Every single one of us has a role in ensuring our city is safe,” he said Sunday. “Solving this is going to take more than police resources.”