Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Chief of Police Robert Olson have now responded to our Dec. 1 column "Minneapolis has become a haven for gangsters." Their response is a work of evasion. It pretends that our column criticized the police officers who apprehended the defendants charged with the murder of Tyesha Edwards. In our column, however, we recognized the officers for their dogged work; we stated that they were to be thanked and congratulated for their success on the case.
Rather, our column criticized the mayor and the chief for failing to exercise the leadership necessary to defeat the gangs that have taken back the Minneapolis streets. On this point the mayor and the chief refuse to fight; they hide behind the very men in blue whom they themselves have repeatedly failed to support.
The mayor and chief focus their response on the decline in Minneapolis's murder rate since 1995. Minneapolis's murder rate peaked in 1995 as the gangs took over Minneapolis's poorest neighborhoods and Minneapolis was dubbed "Murderapolis" by the New York Times. The murder rate has declined from that very high benchmark, but the decline appears to have stopped — as does the decline in other serious crimes. But the story does not end there.
Anyone with eyes to see can observe that the gangs have retaken the streets of Minneapolis's poorest neighborhoods. The reasons for this require more space than we have at our disposal, but the fact is that in south Minneapolis, for example, they have taken back the Chicago and Portland arteries between Lake and Franklin, while in north Minneapolis they are centered on the Lowry/Lyndale intersection.
Those who doubt the accuracy of these observations need only read Kathy Thurber's Dec. 4 Star Tribune column, "A new shot in the heart of the inner city." Thurber is the former Minneapolis City Council member who lives in Tyesha Edwards' south Minneapolis neighborhood.
Her column powerfully testifies to her own observations regarding the recapture of her neighborhood by Minneapolis gangs. The mayor and chief responded to Thurber's eyewitness testimony in a column published in the Star Tribune Dec. 10. Their reponse, in effect, is "Who you gonna believe, me or your lyin' eyes?"
On Aug. 22, while executing a search warrant on a notorious drug house in north Minneapolis, Minneapolis police officers were attacked by the occupants of the house, one of whom sicced a pit bull on the officers. A riot followed when a child occupant of the house was accidentally wounded by an officer who shot the pit bull.
Black bystanders attacked the white journalists who were covering the execution of the search warrant. The utterly inexplicable upshot of the riot is a federal mediation process to which the police have been made a party by agreement of the mayor and the chief, who have not spoken a word in support of the officers.
Since the publication of our column, we have heard from several Minneapolis police officers who have supplied us information to support our analysis of Minneapolis's gang problem. Among other things we have learned that, on the order of the mayor, in August the chief cut the number of Minneapolis police officers deployed to the state Gang Strike Force from eight to two. (Last week the chief announced that he now intends to deploy as many as 12 officers to the strike force.) And a senior officer confirms that Minneapolis law enforcement is paralyzed by the "racial disparities" crusade to which the mayor and the chief have not only offered no resistance, but to which they have lent their support.
The appeasement mentality that holds Minneapolis's leaders in its grip has now reached a critical point. In July 1939, when Great Britain was far gone in the throes of appeasement — when the rise of fascism throughout Europe seemed like an irresistible tide — an anonymous benefactor erected a billboard in the heart of London asking a single question: What price Churchill? The point was not necessarily that Churchill was the only man who could save England from Hitler, but that England could be saved and that Hitler had to be resisted.
By the same token, the question that Minneapolis citizens should ask today is: What price Giuliani?