Coming together – and staying together – to stop youth violence

Minneapolis is grieving over the death last weekend of Alisha Neely, as well as for the victims of a horrible period of violence. Our community has come together to make Minneapolis a safer place to call home over these last few years. Now we need to stay together at this very difficult time.

The violent incidents this weekend are active cases, so I will defer to the Police Department to release more information as it’s appropriate to do so. Because of assistance and cooperation from the community, the Police Department has been very successful in solving most of our violent crimes. Now, once again, we need the community’s help to bring peace and justice.

Tragic situations like these are why the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), our city’s Youth Violence Prevention initiative and the Minneapolis Public Schools launched the anonymous “SPEAK-UP Minneapolis” tip line, so that youth can phone or text in a report of violence or potential violence.

We know that 50 to 100 people attended the party where Alisha Neely died. To do justice to her memory, we need everyone who attended, whether they believe they have direct knowledge of the circumstances of her tragic death or not, to call 1-866-SPEAK-UP or the Minneapolis Police Department tip line at 612-692-TIPS. The right time for anyone with information about these crimes to call is right now. (People may also text MPLS to 847411.)

In addition to dedicating significant resources to investigating last weekends tragic events, we are working closely with community leaders and outreach workers on prevention strategies.  The Minneapolis Police Department has directed increased uniform patrols in North Minneapolis along with our Juvenile Division, Special Operations, Intelligence and Gang Units in order to aggressively enforce any criminal behavior to curb additional violence.

In addition to this work, two weeks ago we reconvened the Youth Violence Prevention Committee that helped draft and implement the strategies that led to a 40% decrease in juvenile crime over the past several years. We took a hard look at the plan to determine how it can evolve to meet changing needs of the recent incidents.

Some of that work is already underway. Last month, the City of Minneapolis, along with Hennepin County, Hennepin County Medical Center and North Memorial Medical Center, announced a new program called the Minneapolis Youth Violence Intervention Program (MY-VIP) – a hospital-based initiative designed to identify, address and intervene in the lives of youth violence victims who come to HCMC. To date, nearly 40 agencies in the metro area have agreed to offer their services in partnership with the MY-VIP program, including the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, MAD DADS, Youth Link, Urban Youth Conservation, Holding Forth the Word of Life Church, and Salaam Project. We will continue working closely with community partners like these to put new strategies in place to eliminate youth violence.

We cannot accept last weekend’s tragic level of violence, and we are taking action. But building safe communities is not done with a single act or by a single person. Our whole community has come together in the past few years to make Minneapolis safer. We need to stay united as a city and a community through this difficult and challenging period until we reach our goal that every part of our city, every moment of every day, is a safe place to call home.

To learn more about how I’m working to address the issues affecting our city, sign up for my e-mail update at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn/mayor

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