The murder on Monday at Lake Calhoun, and Friday night's deadly shooting in north Minneapolis make a total of 21 murders this year. Reports of the murders have emphasized that the number of homicides so far in 2010 has already exceed the number of murders for the whole of 2009, when there was 19 in the city of Minneapolis.
Minneapolis murder rates peaked in 1995 with 99 homicides. Locally produced "Murderapolis" shirts caught national attention, partly because the homicide rate here had climbed higher than cities such as New York. The murder rate fell from that level and remained steady through the late 1990s and most of the 2000s, with between 40 and 60 murders per year.
- 1995 - 99
- 1996 - 86
- 1997 - 58
- 1998 - 58
- 1999 - 48
- 2000 - 50
- 2001 - 43
- 2002 - 47
- 2003 - 46
- 2004 - 53
- 2005 - 47
- 2006 - 60
- 2007 - 47
- 2008 - 39
- 2009 - 19
- 2010 - 21, as of May 28.
Murder rates stayed relatively constant for several years, then 2009 happened, with barely half the homicides of the previous year. What happened? And why does Minneapolis seem to be returning to the decade-long trend just 12 months later? If murders continue at the same rate through the end of 2010, there will be 50 in the city.
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak proudly credited youth programs, tough law enforcement and aggressive crime prevention in reducing not just murders, but overall crime rates in 2009.
Have the Minneapolis Police Department been resting on their laurels in 2010, or are the recent increase in murders due to complex factors the police don't have the resources to deal with? The Lake Calhoun murder has been linked to local gangs who, according to a report in the Star Tribune, are more violent, less organized, and harder to control than the gangs of a decade ago.
But this week Mayor Rybak blamed drug users, specifically marijuana smokers.
"When you pay for marijuana, you are paying for the bullet that goes into the head of someone on the streets," he said. "Too many people have winked sideways without being honest that it's white middle class Minnesota that's paying for the drugs that put profit into gangs that kill people."
There's no question that conflicts over drug deals can be responsible for violent crime, but it's not like marijuana was only just invented.
Community groups and churches in North Minneapolis have planned a neighborhood rally and march planned for June 13 along West Broadway, for those who want to see an end to violence.