2021-10-17 20:23:36 –
The crowd rushed to the Astoria Cafe on St. Paul’s W. Seventh Street for about three dozen, far more than the councilor Rebecca Knocker would normally see in an open house in a coffee shop.
The owner of the restaurant across the street was worried about the previous weekend Mass shooting, A woman died and 12 were injured, which could scare customers. A resident educator said he found it dangerous to take students to a nearby park since the opening of a homeless day shelter in the neighborhood. Another asked about police staffing.
“I don’t think it was an easy time, but I’m confident in the area. That’s the spirit here,” W said. Noecker, who represents downtown 7th Street and adjacent to it, said. Public and private investments have been poured into the city center of St. Paul in recent years as part of an effort to shake its infamous sleepy reputation. However, at the beginning of the pandemic, traffic from office workers and people seeking entertainment suddenly stopped, and crime increased as in cities across the country. As a result, anxiety has increased among residents and business owners of downtown and surrounding St. Paul, and the emotions that have come to mind after the recent mass shootings in urban history have blamed locals and leaders. Struggled to stay calm.
“What happened on W.7th Street has never happened in St. Paul,” said police chief Todd Axel. “And based on the intelligence I have at the moment, there is no reason to believe that it will never happen again.”
Two men (one accused of abusing relatives) were charged with attempted murder in a shooting on October 10 at Seventh Street Truck Park, a bar and restaurant one block south of the Xcel Energy Center. increase. Terry Lorenzo Brown, accused of killing 27-year-old bar patron Marquisha Wiley, was previously convicted of a felony that made it illegal for him to carry a gun.
The shooting came within two weeks of city officials and business leaders Celebrated a 23% decline In an interview on Friday, Mayor Melvin Carter said the savings were achieved by combining $ 1 million with alternative public security activities such as the Downtown Alliance’s street team ambassadors to support police patrols overtime. rice field. It involves members of the area, community and acts as a second eye for law enforcement.
“Our downtown is heading in the right direction at every data point,” Carter said, adding that the number of people living in St. Paul’s outdoor camps dropped from 380 to 24 last year. Since taking office in 2018, the mayor has “Community First” Approach to Public Security It aims to address the root cause of crime by spending money on programs and resources that attract and support residents, especially those in low-income areas.
“The horrific, horrific shootings we experienced last weekend felt like a stomachache for all of us. I think we need to remind us that we really have a long-term job. It has to be radically different than what we’ve done in the past. “
However, some residents and business owners have expressed concern that the mayor’s strategy is not doing enough to reverse the other criminal tendencies that St. Paul sees. By September of this year, 202 people had been shot in the city, out of 168 in the same period in 2020 and 124 in that period in 2019, police said.
Thirty-two people died in murders this year, surpassing the record 34 murders reported in 2020. That number includes last month’s murders. Quadruple murder Investigators believe it happened outside the White Squirrel bar, also on W.7th Street.
Executives from Ecolab and Securian, the largest employers in downtown St. Paul, sent a letter last week urging Carter to do more to prevent violent crimes. Christopher Hilger, CEO of Securian, writes that safety concerns can affect a company’s ability to hire and retain workers.
“The future of our city as a place to live, play, work and invest is at stake,” Hilger wrote.
Tony Moleen, general manager of the Bulldog Restaurant & Bar in Lowertown, said he recently moved to the suburbs after living downtown for 13 years. Restaurant owner Brian Ingram, who owns the Hope Breakfast Bar right next to W. 7th Street, has postponed plans to open a new supper club and tiki bar across from the Xcel Energy Center until local leaders make further efforts to reduce crime. Said that.
“It’s very annoying to hear them say they’ve reduced crime,” said Ingram, who shortened restaurant time because of concerns about staff safety. “We all aim to make a difference in our community, but you can do that and oppose crime.”
Ingram and others say the city was unable to address issues related to what they call “quality of life.” Freedom house, A day-trip shelter for homeless people who opened in West 7-chome in January. Business owners report that people yell at customers, urinate or defecate in public, destroy cars, and use drugs.
The city council will vote next month on a zoning change that will allow similar drop-in centers to open elsewhere in the city. Police have repeatedly stated that the mass shootings at Truck Park have nothing to do with shelters, but some neighbors have pointed out both to raise concerns about the future of the area.
In response, Police Officer St. Paul and Sheriff Ramsey County will extend a special patrol in the West 7th Avenue area for up to 5 hours until 2 am.
Mr. Axel called for drastic action to deal with increasing crime, with police, prosecutors and judges saying “a high level of accountability to those who continue to spin at the revolving doors of the criminal justice system. He said he needed to do more to make sure.
I also have a chief Publicly clashed with Carter Beyond funding the police, his troops explained that they were understaffed, exhausted, and unable to carry out all the preventative investigations they had ever conducted.
“No matter how many police officers were patrolling the street, the shooting would probably have happened,” Axel said. “But if our gang and gun units have enough investigators and have to be depleted to be on the street, we can be more aggressive.”
Carter said Axel’s comment “reflects the perception that police officers can’t do everything themselves. That’s why our overall goal is to be this kind of comprehensive for public safety. It’s about building a coordinated data-driven approach. ” He also wants stricter state and federal gun control.
Joe Spencer, president of the Downtown Alliance in St. Paul, said that returning employees to work is very important, but entertainment venues such as the Palace Theater, Amsterdam Bar and Hall, and the Audway Performing Arts Center have recently had a small audience. Said that they are starting to collect.
Access to these facilities is part of why Colleen and Jean Trantanella moved downtown seven years ago.
The couple “occasionally” saw a townhouse away from the city, Jean said. The shootings at the truck park also made them “more moody” and prompted them to switch walking routes to avoid certain areas, Colleen added.
But as they enjoyed a drink at the bulldog on Thursday, Colleen said they were going to stay where they were.
Her husband said: “We don’t want to give up St. Paul.”
Staff writers Zoë Jackson and James Walsh contributed to this report.
Katie Galioto • 612-673-4478
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