Police pledge to increase safety measures after string of Dinkytown assaults
University of Minnesota students are having renewed concerns about Dinkytown safety following a string of violent crimes this past weekend.
“We have to be more and more aware, which is not ideal, but that’s the way it is,” U of M sophomore Alexis Brixius said.
It’s not the college experience some U of M students planned for.
“I don’t think any of us feel super safe walking at night in Dinkytown by ourselves,” U of M sophomore Rhegan Barth said.
The group said it’s because of situations that turn violent.
Starting Thursday night and continuing into the weekend, Minneapolis police recorded 12 incidents in Dinkytown that ended with eight citations and two arrests over three nights. The majority of the suspects were juveniles.
“One juvenile was actually arrested all three nights. First night for disorderly conduct. Second night he was charged with riot. And the third night, attempted auto theft,” Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said.
Police received multiple reports of a large group of about 50 people disturbing the peace. At one point, a woman was assaulted by four people.
Brixius was in a business, steps away, when flashing lights filled the streets.
“It’s definitely uncomfortable to be trying to just get home or wherever you’re going, and then there’s just so many cops and it’s scary,” Brixius said.
“It’s pretty clear that the problem that we’re seeing is based on these dozens of teenagers coming in, and we need to be able to disrupt that,” O’Hara said. “We need to be able to hold them accountable immediately.”
O’Hara also said a beefed-up police presence will be seen moving forward.
“So, going forward we will continue to have an enhanced police presence and respond immediately and continue to cite. Cite persons and arrest persons when appropriate,” said O’Hara.
The Minneapolis Police Department is teaming up with campus police to tackle the issue, with plans to increase police presence this weekend. The chief said he’s also asked for assistance from the Minnesota State Patrol.
In a meeting hosted Tuesday night by the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner Cedric Alexander said violence interrupters would also be more visible in Dinkytown.
“Because that’s such a very important part of how we view public safety going forward and it’s incredibly important to us to have those interrupter teams,” said Alexander.
O’Hara said it’s likely the teens traveled from the suburbs, including Edina, Eden Prairie, Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.
“We’ll have a traffic plan in place to try and divert a lot of the folks that are coming in from out of town driving through these areas,” he said.
MPD 2nd Precinct Inspector Sean McGinty was asked at the meeting if the light rail would be shut down late at night.
“As far as shutting down transit, I mean, that affects all of the citizens who need to try and get around and get to their jobs, we have no control over the transit system,” McGinty said.
Neighbors said there’s been a long history of people disturbing the peace in Dinkytown, and finding a solution is long overdue.
“We need better lighting. Our lighting in the neighborhood is terrible. It’s scary to walk down our streets at night,” said Vic Thorstenson, Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association president.