Reports that a mob of teenagers were “terrorizing” Dinkytown, a business district adjacent to the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis, raised concerns about the safety of the area earlier this week. Law enforcement agencies are cooperating to beef up security measures, but officials say the arrests are exaggerated.
“Obviously this has severely impacted the news cycle,” said Inspector Sean McGinty, commander of the Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd District.
Minneapolis police reported 12 incidents between May 4 and Sunday involving groups of underage youth gathering in Dinkytown. A video circulating on social media allegedly showed some of these teens beating up another person.
An 18-year-old was arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct and possession of fireworks on May 5, according to Hennepin County court records. On Sunday, records indicate he and a 19-year-old were arrested for probable cause of the riot.
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Seven juveniles and one adult female, age unknown, received citations over the weekend. The Minneapolis Police Department said it could not provide details of individual cases of juveniles. In a media brief summarizing several incidents, the police stated that the youths were cited for non-violent reasons such as violating curfew, desertion from the police, and disorderly conduct. The most serious citation was a fifth-degree assault—the lowest level of assault.
Crime in Dinkytown has declined over the past year, while the juvenile crime rate has remained steady, with the exception of car thefts, McGinty said. He said there has been a spike in juvenile car theft since a TikTok video surfaced last year showing people how to steal Hyundai and Kia cars.
“It’s always shocking when people see this level of violence, but I can’t say it’s any different,” McGinty said. “It’s moved all over the city. We’ve seen it downtown. The groups are mobile. We’ve seen it all at the Mall of America and in different jurisdictions. Kids are more mobile these days.”
Of the youth contacted by MPD, 35 were from the suburbs and eight were from Minneapolis, according to MPD Chief Brian O’Hara at a community safety meeting Tuesday.
the Minneapolis Crime Dashboard It shows a decline over the past year in most crimes except auto theft and property crimes, such as vandalism, across Minneapolis northeast of the Mississippi River.
However, in Marcy Holmes’ neighborhood specifically, the dashboard recorded an uptick in assaults and reports of shootings.
Students, workers, and residents are concerned about the safety of Dinkytown
Dinkytown has been a social and cultural hub for youth in Minneapolis for more than a century. Located opposite the state’s largest college, this area is a walkable area historically known for its array of unique small businesses and vibrant nightlife.
Javier Roker lives and works in the area. He said it tends to get noisy once the snow melts.
“I usually open on Mondays. When I come here, Dinkytown is usually in shambles. There is a lot of trash everywhere,” said Rucker.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Corey Johnson, manager of Frank & Andreas’ late-night pizzeria. He said they removed the TVs in the restaurant because of customers throwing chairs. “Like old people can’t even come here at night to eat pizza or sit and enjoy it because they shoot or throw stuff.”
Johnson said one employee was attacked after work.
Many students and staff mentioned taking precautions such as walking in groups at night or carrying pepper spray. They also said they still felt safe in the area.
“Personally, I haven’t been assaulted or anything like that here. I don’t know anyone very close to that personally,” said Christopher Thompson, a sophomore who lives and works in Dinkytown, who said he worried about his safety. Dinkytown based on friends of friends stories, news reports, and text or app alerts about neighborhood crime.
Many also admitted that women have a different experience, as they face regular harassment from men.
“I literally had a guy grab my arm once because I wouldn’t stop talking to him. It’s scary,” said Sarah Thompson, a fourth-year history student, as she walked with her friends on Tuesday afternoon. “I can’t even go out at night to hang out with my friends.” Because I say: something might happen.”
Sophia Ostergren, of the University of Minnesota, said their concerns were exacerbated by violent incidents on campus and in other university neighborhoods. “I can name several people who have been exposed to something on campus, whether it was from a female student or from someone who is not a student,” she said.
Increased police presence in Dinkytown
The Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association gathered a panel of elected officials and law enforcement leaders on Tuesday to share more about what happened this past weekend and how to address it.
MPD Chief O’Hara said the department was quick to reallocate resources to Dinkytown last weekend and requested support from the Minnesota State Patrol and Metro Transit. He said they will continue with additional patrols and plans to disrupt traffic in Dinkytown on weekend evenings.
“I think that’s a very clever way for the inspector to try to disable these people because we know they come in personal vehicles and they come from suburban areas into the community,” O’Hara said.
There are now three light trailers and a portable camera with a live feed to the university’s dispatch center that will be ready over the weekend, according to Nick Juarez, assistant director of diversity, equity and inclusion in the university’s Department of Public Safety.
The U Police Department is fully staffing its units to support off-campus public safety before the end of this week, which is expected to bring more than 40,000 people to the area for graduation ceremonies. Volunteers and “safety guides” will be available to assist visitors, according to a safety plan for the launch released Monday.
Various stakeholders have coordinated safety on campus over the past year, seeking improvements such as better street lighting. In the recently passed Higher Education Omnibus Bill, the Minnesota Legislature allocated $10 million over two years for safety and security measures at all five University of Minnesota campuses.
Transforming young people should also be a priority, officials acknowledged at the community meeting.
“I absolutely look forward to working with my colleagues to figure out how to expand this work, and ensure it is culturally responsive to the diverse communities we serve throughout Minneapolis,” said Robin Wonsley, Minneapolis Ward 2 Council Member.
Rashad Ahmed attended the meeting as a concerned community member. He helps encourage young people to take different paths through his non-profit organization Metro Youth Transformation CenterHe said youth programs have been a successful way to disrupt societal violence.
“A lot of them are so wonderful. They’re very smart kids and they work hard. They’re not challenged enough. They don’t find programs that can challenge them to think outside the box,” he said.
How people can help or stay safe:
– Get text alerts — Dinkytown Alerts, SAFE-U (at UMN Campus)
– Get an escort — University Security with 624-WALK
Report suspicious activity to the police