Walz’s office responds to request for National Guard, State Patrol in Minneapolis

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A group of Minneapolis neighbors is calling Gov. Tim Walz’s response to a request for help “insufficient.”

More than two dozen people who live on the north side sent a letter to the governor in September asking him to send the National Guard and State Patrol to the city to assist Minneapolis Police amid ongoing violence.

On Thursday, the Public Engagement Department responded with a letter of its own.

“My gut response is it was exactly what I thought,” said Becka Thompson, who’s lived in the Victory neighborhood for 11 years. “It was a lot of ‘we’ve done this, we’ve done that,’ but at the end of the day, ‘we’re not going to do anything.’”

Tyler Balbuena, who received the letter on behalf of the neighborhood group, echoed those frustrations.

“Nothing in this letter commits to sending additional resources to Minneapolis to aid us. To me it seems the Governor is telling us we are still on our own,” Balbuena said through email. “Several of my neighbors are pursuing carry permits since the city and state have failed in their duty to provide for public safety. I expect that trend to continue the longer we are left to fend for ourselves. I can’t imagine this level of homicide and violent crime would be allowed to continue anywhere else in the state.”

The letter from the Governor’s Office is dated Oct. 14, 2021. It says, in part, "Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan are committed to ensuring that every Minnesotan lives in a safe and supportive community. The challenges the City of Minneapolis faces in public safety are troubling and a manifestation of a nationwide rise in violent crime during the pandemic.”

It goes on to reiterate the governor’s stance that “the State Patrol and Minnesota National Guard are not a substitute for a qualified local police department," but state agencies are assisting “as appropriate.”

According to the letter, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents have helped Minneapolis Police on 22 cases this year, which resulted in 41 arrests. It also says the BCA, State Patrol and local law enforcement are working together on the Street Racing Task Force, which held six "large-scale enforcement operations this summer" that resulted in 48 arrests and 15 vehicle forfeitures.

The letter also points to the state’s investment in street outreach programs and Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington’s involvement in the 21 Days of Peace initiative.

Harrington met with a group of neighbors last week.

“I am grateful for the opportunity we had to meet with Commissioner Harrington, and was pleased to learn that the BCA is assisting MPD with investigations,” Balbuena said in an email. “Twenty-one Days of Peace is also a great group, but it is not equipped to deal with the levels of widespread crime we are facing. However, this response is insufficient in the face of the violent crime we continue to face. This year North Minneapolis has seen roughly the same number of homicides as the entire city of Saint Paul.”

In the Fourth Precinct, city data shows there have been 35 homicides this year. According to police, there have been 32 homicides in St. Paul.

There have been 75 homicides citywide in Minneapolis in 2021.

“Who is going to say, ‘I will take charge of this, I will make sure citizens are safe’” said Thompson, who is critical of city and state leaders.

Walz declined requests for an interview. Harrington didn’t respond to a request.

Thompson hopes to see more officers on the streets. She pointed out Walz’s office responded with its letter just hours before seven people were injured in three shootings in Minneapolis on Thursday evening.

“We’re in a time of crisis in our city, we’re in a time of deep distress on the north side,” Thompson said. “There’s no end in sight and what’s becoming so troubling to me is it’s becoming normalized, that’s the thing that I don’t think anyone would want that to happen.”

Click here to see the Public Engagement Department’s full letter to the residents.