Group launches safety walks in Loring Park in response to rising crime in Minneapolis

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A new grassroots effort in Loring Park hopes to help curb crime in the area.

The Woman’s Club of Minneapolis has launched a Neighborhood Safety Block Club.

“I want to try to help, is what the thinking is. There must be something I can do,” said Aileen Johnson, who is organizing this effort.

Participants wear orange T-shirts, identifying themselves as the Block Club.

They will walk around Loring Park and the surrounding neighborhoods every Thursday night.

Johnson said they will strike up conversations with people in the park, pick up trash and serve as an “extra set of eyes” in case someone needs help or something appears suspicious.

“Something about putting on the orange T-shirt and walking out there in small groups and talking to strangers really does demonstrate that you care about the neighborhood, that you have a stake in it,” Johnson said. “The objectives are to promote friendliness and to curb crime.”

In Loring Park, shots fired reports are up more than 400% from three years ago, according to the Minneapolis Police Department Crime Dashboard.

That includes a homicide in early June that left a man in his 30s dead. And in mid-March, police said a 2-year-old boy was critically hurt after being shot in the face.

“Like any Minneapolitan, it’s quite upsetting to see that uptick in crime,” Johnson said. “But an effort like this takes you out of this position where you’re feeling helpless and maybe even hopeless.”

In response to the rising crime, Johnson said the Neighborhood Safety Block Club idea is a growing movement in the city.

She launched the first one in North Loop in April. It has now grown to almost 60 members, and Johnson said police have now asked them to do something similar in Loring Park.

“Having block clubs like this I think will be a huge part of the future of the city of Minneapolis,” said Kevin Winge, executive director of the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.

The first walk in Loring Place took place last Thursday, July 7.

Johnson said 10 people participated, noting most were over the age of 40, making it feel like a group of caring neighborhood parents or grandparents.

“We get a lot of feedback that people feel safe when they see us,” Johnson said.

The Block Club will not act as “violence interrupters” but will instead keep a safe distance and call police if they encounter any dangerous activities.

They made two 911 calls on their inaugural walk.

“We helped a man who was having a medical crisis and we helped a woman who was in emotional distress,” Johnson said.

In addition to deterring violence, the group also hopes to draw people back to local parks.

Winge said many parks feel uncharacteristically empty, as community members stay away due to safety concerns.

“Just walking around the neighborhood is part of taking our city back and showing that these are safe communities and we want people coming back to all the parks in the Twin Cities,” Winge said.

The safety walks in Loring Park will take place every Thursday from 5:30-7 p.m.

It is open to any community member who wants to participate.

“That is the only way we’re going to move forward is with each of us doing one little positive thing a day. It’ll transform this city very quickly,” Winge said.

In addition to the efforts in the North Loop and Loring Park, the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis plans to launch another weekly safety walk in the Mill District at the end of the month.

If you’d like to join any of the safety walks, contact Aileen Johnson at