by Anthony Gockowski
Crime is out of control at the University of Minnesota and parents are tired of the finger-pointing.
Many attended a community meeting Tuesday night at the Van Cleve Recreation Center but were disappointed with the outcome.
“291 days ago, three men came into our home two blocks from this location and held my daughter and I at gunpoint, robbed us, stole my car. [It] changed my daughter’s life,” one parent, Lisa Walker, told Alpha News following the meeting. “Here we are, the end of June and really nothing has happened.”
Walker said her daughter is 21-years-old and has not been able to sleep since the incident.
“Four days later, the subject that they apprehended in my vehicle that night was released from jail,” she added. “This state is a state of finger-pointing.”
Another parent, Brian Peck, said he has written several letters to university and state leaders but most have been unwilling to engage.
“Nobody’s listening and nobody cares. So we are trying to figure out: who is it in the state of Minnesota that cares about this issue?” he said. “By just sitting back for two years and being basically OK that violent crime is up 45% and not doing anything different tells me nobody’s listening. We need to resolve this and we need to resolve this before those students get back to campus this fall.”
The meeting was attended by Tina Erazmus, the university’s director of government and community relations, and Nick Juarez, a member of the campus police department’s community engagement team. President Joan Gabel did not attend, nor did anyone from the Minneapolis Police Department.
“I didn’t hear a whole lot of questions answered. I heard a whole lot of talking and a whole lot of just trying to kill time. I didn’t hear a whole lot of the parents’ questions answered, unfortunately,” parent Mike Olson told Alpha News. “[It was a lot of] pointing of fingers … we’re supposed to talk to the mayor, we’re supposed to talk to the university president, we’re supposed to talk to the council woman, but yet nobody wants to do anything about it, it sounds like. They say they do but yet they’re not.”
Olson said the “demonizing of police” is a big part of the problem and “it needs to stop.”
“This is basically in my opinion the precipice of these parents waking up to the violent crime that’s going on here,” he said.
Erin Brumm said she was “not at all satisfied with the responses [she] got from the politicians that were here.”
“It felt very much like we were trying to talk about legislative issues and bigger-picture issues. We want to talk about what’s happening at the university and what’s going on with our kids,” she told us. “That’s why we’re here … it’s not to solve all the world’s problems. We want to fix the problems that our kids are dealing with right now.”
The meeting was organized by Minneapolis Council Member Robin Wonsley, a Democratic Socialist who said in March that she wants to consider a “city without police.”
Wonsley now represents Ward 2 on the Minneapolis City Council, which includes the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota.
Campus safety concerns have intensified in recent weeks as university police report that violent crime has increased by 45% since 2019. Some parents told Alpha News that their fears worsened following a string of high-profile crimes at a problem property near campus, including a shootout and a violent carjacking involving multiple assaults.
Wonsley said she believes people are nervous to work for the Minneapolis Police Department because “some of the internal inequities and structural inequities have not been addressed.”
She said it’s important for city leaders to return to the negotiation table with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights so they can “restructure MPD so that it’s not an institution that’s entrenched with racist, misogynistic and violent practices that have harmed our communities and that have harmed their fellow law enforcement personnel.”
Wonsley said she has been contacted by many parents and “absolutely agrees” that every parent should know their children will be safe at school.
Watch the full meeting:
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and reported for The Daily Caller.
Photo “University of Minnesota Police Squad Car” by Tony Webster. CC BY 2.0.