Created: July 08, 2021 06:09 PM
The Minneapolis Police Department will increase patrols in Uptown after several nights of unrest.
A 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS crew saw firefighters putting out fires after protesters gathered near Lake Street and Girard Avenue Wednesday night.
A video that has been widely shared on social media shows a car doing "burnouts" in the middle of the street while a passenger fires a gun into the air more than 30 times.
Other videos shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS show drag-racing, blocked streets and dumpster fires.
Mayor Jacob Frey condemned the behavior Thursday, calling it a "paramount concern."
"I am talking about the people who are coming in to cause chaos and destruction in a neighborhood. I condemn it in the strongest possible terms and we need everybody to be doing the same thing," Frey said.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with multiple people who live and work in Uptown on Thursday. Many said violent crimes have become a disturbing daily reality.
"Carjackings, gunshots being fired, robberies, it does seem like it is increasing and people are more fearful," said Berit Griffin.
Griffin has lived in Uptown for 14 years and said she no longer walks alone at night.
"I've been fortunate not to have been impacted yet but I worry that my luck might run out," Griffin said.
Minneapolis Police Department data shows violent crime in the 5th Precinct has increased 23% from the same time period last year.
Business owners are pleading for city leaders to take action.
"It's heartbreaking to see the area and the neighborhood and what's happening after everybody's intent. I don't know that we're going to be able to survive, just like many of the other businesses have closed down," said Amy Reher, president of Granada Theater and Uptown Lobby.
Reher said they close early some nights and have canceled events due to unrest.
She said she regularly sends messages to the mayor and city council members, voicing her frustration over safety concerns.
"I want to know what the help is for us. It feels like we've been forgotten here and I don't see a lot of action happening," Reher said.
Reher hopes people will continue to support Uptown businesses. She believes it will take a community effort, with businesses and members of the public working together to keep the area vibrant and thriving.
MPD said the public can expect more resources in the Uptown area moving forward, including help from neighboring departments, State Patrol, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"The behavior that was displayed last night and several nights before, it completely transcends anything that is covered by the First Amendment," MPD Director of Police Information John Elder said.
Elder said the unrest seems to be part organized and part random, with a group of people instigating reckless behavior and others coming in to watch or join.
"It is an extremely dangerous situation and a very sincere threat to public safety," Elder said.
He said MPD will direct officers from other precincts to the area if needed, but that can take time, so help may not arrive as quickly as people expect.
Elder also said investigators made "strong headway" in tracking down the people involved in the video, seen shooting a gun from their car.
"We will utilize all resources we have to make arrests, work with the court systems and get convictions," Elder said.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS asked the council members who represent the area to respond to the growing concerns of businesses and residents.
Uptown is on the border of Ward 10, represented by Council President Lisa Bender and Ward 7, represented by Lisa Goodman.
Bender provided this statement: "The drag racing incident in Upton is an unfortunate example of this problem which has increased in the Twin Cities. MPD is responding to these incidents and has been setting up road barriers on weekends as a deterrent. Specific questions about MPD operations should be directed to the Mayor's office as the Mayor has complete control over MPD per the city charter."
Goodman has yet to respond to a request for comment.
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