The sound of gunfire has become so familiar across North Minneapolis that Cathy Spann worries she has grown numb to it. Day and night, the bullets zip through the predominantly Black neighborhood, hitting cars, homes and people. Spann, a longtime community activist, cannot recall another time when things were this bad, not even when the city was branded “Murderapolis,” during a 1990s spike in violence, reports the Washington Post. The police are not as much a presence as they used to be, Spann said, noting that sometimes when neighbors call 911, officers are delayed in responding or don’t come at all. Nearly six months after George Floyd’s killing, Minneapolis is grappling with an unprecedented wave of violence and droves of officer departures that the Minneapolis Police Department warns could leave it unable to respond to emergencies.
Homicides in Minneapolis are up 50 percent, with nearly 75 people killed this year. More than 500 people have been shot, the highest number in more than a decade and twice as many as in 2019. There have been more than 4,600 violent crimes — including hundreds of carjackings and robberies — a five-year high. Minneapolis police have faced a surge of officer departures after Floyd’s killing. In June, a city council majority promised to defund the department and replace it with a new agency focused on a mix of public safety and violence prevention, a move that could go before voters in 2021. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said over 100 officers have left the force — more than double the number in a typical year. Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey have started to develop “contingency plans” that would include “triaging calls” for help. On Friday, the city council voted to allocate nearly $500,000 for the police department to temporarily hire officers from neighboring law enforcement agencies to help patrol city streets.