From Friday night into Saturday morning, 15 people were shot on the streets of Minneapolis, three fatally, as a surge of violent chaos spirals seemingly out of control. In recent weeks, three city children under the age of 10 have been shot in the head, and one has died. They are among 22 children struck by gunfire this year.
In St. Paul, shots fired and victims injured are also way up, leading to a weekend earlier this month during which seven were shot and more than 150 shell casings were recovered from three locations.
As of Saturday morning, Minneapolis has seen 31 homicides in 2021 — more than double the number at the same time in 2020.
Rhetoric decrying this barbarism has been plentiful, heartfelt and essential to stirring the community's conscience. But urgent, practical action is still more necessary. City and police officials in both cities have responded with plans that merit support.
Both are increasing patrols in hot spots and the downtowns. Both seek to boost funding for more prevention, such as having community members work with at-risk youth to steer them away from violence.
More specifically, some of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey's proposals to break the cycle of violence this summer include: additional cameras in high-crime areas; coordinating with county, state and federal partners to crack down on violent offenders and increase investigative capacity on gun crimes; prioritizing MPD officer overtime, since the department has lost many officers to retirement and disability; and significant funding for the Office of Violence Prevention and community-based models, such as the Minneapolis Violence Interrupters program.
Longer-term plans include using federal American Rescue Plan funding to increase affordable housing, inclusive economic growth and recovery and job opportunities and programs for city youths. Council members should approve funding for those efforts.
"I believe in a comprehensive strategy," Frey told an editorial writer. "The both-and approach. I've talked to families who have had a family member torn away from them and their message is loud and clear. They want the perpetrators brought to justice … and for that we need an adequate number of officers."
At the same time, he said, there must be changes in police practices and culture so that Black and other communities of color won't have to fear police.
But beyond "both-and" efforts from city halls, community members must also step up to help identify shooters and other bad actors and hold them accountable. As many neighborhood residents and activists have so simply said at recent prayer gatherings and vigils, "Enough is enough.''
Another vital way for community members to help is to discourage or prevent attacks on police as they are trying to do their jobs.
It's worth noting that the Twin Cities are not alone in dealing with ramped up gun violence. In 2020, shootings rose in many American cities — including New York, which recently reported a 166% year-over-year increase. And a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics last month found that firearm-related injuries sustained or inflicted by children under 12 surged during the first six months of the pandemic.
Researchers attribute the spike to a variety of factors, including pandemic-related conditions such as kids being out of school with less supervision and fewer recreational and job options.
To stop the gunfire, communities must work together on proven solutions.