Minneapolis recorded its 32nd and, as of Sunday, most recent homicide Aug. 3, says St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. It took place, ironically, on National Night Out – when folks across the U.S. hit the streets and hold picnics or barbecues to celebrate community crime-fighting efforts. The body count has surpassed the 19 recorded all of last year in the city. The uptick has prompted, once again, community vigils and rallies and demands that the mayor and the police do something about it. The local feds announced the kickoff of “Project Exile,” a multi-agency effort to crack down on guns, gangs and violent criminals. The city invited to town Ceasefire, a crime-prevention nonprofit, to share its successes in Chicago, which has a far worse and more entrenched homicide problem.
This year’s homicide surge in Minneapolis is not a surge, when you look at it with a long-term lens. It is actually a return to normal. In fact, last year’s low tally, much like 1995’s 97 killings that earned the city its dubious “Murderapolis” moniker, is an anomaly. Minneapolis is actually on pace this year to equal or come in even lower than the mid-50s, its average yearly homicide toll for the past dozen years or so. Regardless of the navel-gazing caused by the upswing from last year to this one, the mission of the 16-member team of homicide cops remains largely unaffected and deceptively simple: catch the bad guy after catching the body and hope for justice for the victim. They understand but don’t really spend time analyzing the evil, the generational dysfunction or the other factors that lead someone to take a life.