Businesses, Officials React To Downtown Violence
As Halloween revelers descended upon downtown Minneapolis establishments Friday, the city’s police force and area businesses again sought measures to avoid more incidents of violent crime.
Yet again, a series of shootings—including one fatal—has stirred concerns over whether it is unsafe to be out after hours downtown. It’s prompted a review of security measures in place at the numerous nightclubs dotting the downtown landscape.
After a woman was shot dead Oct. 18 inside Augie’s strip club on Hennepin Avenue, city officials said they would review the club’s security plan, according to the Star Tribune. The city’s licensing department and the Minneapolis Police Department often develop various security requirements for bars: from metal detectors to pat-downs, even at places like Pizza LucÃ© near Target Field.
The newspaper reported that, from January to September, violent crime in the center of downtown climbed 16 percent compared with the same period a year ago.
“Perception is reality,” City Council member Jacob Frey told the Star Tribune. “Regardless what the statistics say, if downtown is perceived as anything other than absolutely an awesome place to be, then we need to work hard at it.”
Last month, a 27-year-old Bloomington man died about six weeks after being shot in an incident that sent nine to the hospital at the since-closed 400 Soundbar on the 400 block of 3rd Avenue North. Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Linval Joseph suffered a minor gunshot wound to the calf at the bar. Just days before the fatal shooting at Augie’s, two men were shot at 19 Bar, near the Minneapolis Convention Center, by a disgruntled patron who had been kicked out of the club for bringing a dog inside. The shooter, 23-year-old Devon Michael Glen, was later charged with two counts of assault and one count of discharging a weapon.
One area of success so far appears to be in curbing youth violence downtown. The Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board has a team of outreach workers that the Downtown Journal reported worked with the Minneapolis Police Department’s 1st Precinct and the Downtown Improvement District to keep teens busy. In conjunction with such efforts, the 1st Precinct reported a 100 percent drop in aggravated assaults among 10- to 17-year-olds from June through September. This follows a 42 percent drop in juvenile crime in summer 2013 from the year before.
But it is people spilling onto the streets after 2 a.m. bar closings that are often cited for catalyzing some of the recent incidents plaguing the area. When a surge in downtown violence in 2012 prompted similar discussion, former mayor R.T. Rybak told the Star Tribune he thought bars should close on a staggering basis so as not to throw everyone on the street at once.
Erik Forsberg, who now runs the Devil’s Advocate, told the newspaper he closed his previous bar, the Ugly Mug, after nearby violence led to the loss of as much as $50,000 in business in a single month. At the time, Andrea Christenson, vice president of real estate firm Cassidy Turley, also said several serious prospects walked away from potential restaurant locations on First Avenue after witnessing a chaotic bar scene.