On November 22, the same day that 12-year-old Tyesha Edwards was caught in the crossfire and killed by a couple of Minneapolis's shabbiest gangsters, the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune carried this breaking development: "Busy Minneapolis police hire a healer." Whether this person can undo the death of a child, and thus absolve the police of their duty to protect the citizens, is less than certain.
The city's latest casualty was shot and killed by a stray bullet on Friday while she was playing indoors with her younger sister. Here's the memorable explanation provided by the city's Chief of Police: "This is just another case of someone who's mad at somebody else getting mad and firing shots."
The city's chief executive provided the same kind of leadership as the Chief of Police. On Sunday the mayor invited Tyesha's family to his home to watch the Vikings game on television. One cannot be sure, but the family would probably be more grateful for an explanation of why thugs are free to roam the city and fire weapons. Likely they are not thinking about football right now.
Perhaps the mayor was confusing them with the family of Brandon Hall. In September, the 19-year-old University of Minnesota student, who had fulfilled his dreams to attend college and play Big 10 football, was gunned down by gangsters in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Few noted the irony that the young man had survived the perils of city life in Detroit only to lose his life within days of moving to Minneapolis to attend the university.
What is shocking, unfortunately, is not Tyesha Edwards' murder, but rather Minneapolis's impotent law enforcement bureaucracy and acquiescent political culture. The city has become a haven for gangsters, a transformation that the municipal authorities have passively endured. The reason for the silence stares us in the face. The gangsters themselves are largely black, and Minneapolis's political culture is absorbed in a crusade against the reality that blacks are arrested and incarcerated in numbers that substantially exceed their proportion in the general population.
That the numerical racial disparities rather obviously arise from underlying racial disparities in criminal behavior is taboo — a fact (or hypothesis) that is simply banished from public discussion. The taboo is enforced with greater strictness than the Victorian taboo against referring to sex in public. One of the consequences of refusing to talk about, or even face, reality is that it obstructs clear thinking and effective action. The growing problem of murderous gangs is evidence of this.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party that has governed Minneapolis from top to bottom for twenty years holds itself out as the supreme protector of the city's minorities, blacks foremost among them. The great irony of its political culture is, of course, that law-abiding black citizens are the primary victims of the city's black gangsters.
The dogged legwork of Minneapolis police officers and homicide detectives resulted in the prompt apprehension of the suspects in the murder of Tyesha Edwards. The officers and detectives are to be thanked and congratulated. Street-level Minneapolis police officers are obviously not to blame for the infestation of gangs and lawlessness that blights Minneapolis's poorest neighborhoods.
Two of the three suspects, however, had outstanding arrest warrants at the time of Tyesha Edwards' murder; if those warrants had only been acted on prior to Nov. 22, Tyesha Edwards might very well be alive today.
The vast number of serious crimes of violence are committed by a small number of offenders who repeatedly disobey laws from jaywalking and littering to assault and murder. The suspects apprehended in the murder of Tyesha Edwards are examples of this phenomenon. Removing such offenders from the streets before they commit their most serious crimes would save lives and neighborhoods.
The deep harm that has befallen Minneapolis, of which the murder of Tyesha Edwards is a visible symbol, is not a tidal force which we are helpless to resist. As Rudy Giuliani proved within months of taking the helm in New York City, dedicated and skilled executive leadership combined with appropriate law enforcement can take back the streets and restore the city's neighborhoods to their rightful owners. The techniques used by Mayor Giuliani and his police chiefs are well known; they need only be implemented and pursued with vigor.
The mayor and the rest of the political establishment have before their eyes — if only they would open them — a useful model for what works, which does not include a "healer." They have accepted a moral obligation, and a sworn duty, to protect the lives of the citizens. They are failing. They should get about their business.