Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota


The population of Minneapolis, Minnesota is approximately 425,000 as of 2021. The city’s residents are about 63% white, 10% Latino, and 18% African American. Minneapolis has been governed exclusively by mayors from the Democratic Farmer Labor Party (DFL)—which is the Minnesota state affiliate of the Democratic Party—since 1978. In the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections, voters in Minneapolis gave between 60 and 65 percent of their votes to the Democrat candidates.

Prior to the permanent Democratic takeover of Minneapolis (in ’78), the city’s poverty rate had been consistently lower than the national average. Then, through most of the 1980s, the ripples of the Reagan economic boom had a positive effect on cities nationwide. This trend included Minneapolis, which added some 3,000 new jobs to its downtown area each year from 1981-87. As of 1983, only 8% of the city’s metropolitan-area population lived below the poverty level, as compared to approximately 15% of the national population.

In 1981, then-mayor Donald Fraser—a member of the DFL—collaborated with the Minneapolis City Council to create a privately funded Employment Strategy Task Force where 39 business and civic leaders brainstormed to find ways of stimulating the creation of local employment opportunities that would not be dependent upon public-sector resources. After 9 months of discussions, the task force published a detailed Employment Strategy calling for the creation of neighborhood-based job banks that—under the leadership of private-sector business partners—could each provide employment and job-training services to narrowly targeted sections of the city. According to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban & Regional Affairs: “By 1986, the cumulative positive impact and significance of the affiliated neighborhood job banks began to be felt throughout the city.”

But by 1988, Mayor Fraser had grown highly troubled by the stark contrast that existed between those sections of his city that were thriving economically, and a number of African-American neighborhoods where crime, teenage pregnancy, and welfare dependency were widespread. Fraser believed that the proper remedy for the income inequality that he saw, would be to revamp the way in which social welfare expenditures were allocated. Specifically, Fraser held that federal and local agencies needed to focus more of their attention and financial resources on the economic and social problems confronting unwed mothers (who were disproportionately black) and their children. Toward that end, he stated that the Head Start program and other early-childhood-education and day-care initiatives could be invaluable for imbuing young girls with a measure of self-esteem that would subsequently serve to prevent them from becoming pregnant as unwed teenagers.

Fraser’s successors as mayors of Minneapolis—Sharon Sayles Belton (1994-2001), R.T. Rybak (2002-2013), Betsy Hodges (2014-2018), and Jacob Frey (2018-present)—have shared this same core belief in the importance of massive public expenditures on social-welfare programs and wealth-redistribution initiatives. The result has been disastrous. As of 2017, the poverty rate in Minneapolis was 18.3% — approximately double the 9.5% statewide rate for Minnesota. The situation was even more dire for nonwhite minorities, as the poverty rates of Hispanic and black residents of Minneapolis were 20.4% and 39.7%, respectively.

Moreover, 8.2% of Minneapolis residents in 2017 had incomes that were lower than half of the official poverty level, as compared to a mere 4.0% of all Minnesotans who fit that description. These differentials are consistent with a longstanding, well-documented trend: Virtually all of America’s poorest cities have been led politically by Democrats for many years, even decades.

By no means is financial hardship in Minneapolis limited solely to low-income residents. Indeed, the city’s homeowners pay higher property taxes than their counterparts in most other metropolitan municipalities across the state. In a study of 142 metro areas in Minnesota, for instance, only 15 bore a heavier property-tax burden than Minneapolis as of 2010, and that was before the city raised its property taxes by 4.7% in 2011. More recently, Minneapolis property taxes increased by 6.8% in 2017, by 8.8% in 2018, by 7.6% in 2019, and by 7.8% in 2020.

Notwithstanding these onerous tax hikes, the government of Minneapolis has proven to be incapable of covering its own expenses within the confines of a balanced budget. In 2015, for example, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority’s budget included $84 million in federal subsidies and grants. In 2017, the Metropolitan Council—which describes itself as “the regional policy-making body, planning agency, and provider of essential services for the Twin Cities metropolitan region”—received $91 million in federal funding. That same year, the Minneapolis Public Schools operated with a budget deficit of nearly $17 million.

But massive deficits, coupled with ever-increasing dependency on federal assistance, have done nothing to persuade the political leaders of Minneapolis to question their leftist political values. Consider, for instance, their commitment to “sanctuary” policies that prevent city employees from alerting federal authorities to the whereabouts of the many illegal aliens who reside there. Indeed, when President Donald Trump in 2017 announced that he planned to cut off all federal funding for sanctuary cities, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges defiantly said: “Donald Trump is doing his best to punish cities that have separation ordinances by threatening funding to cities. That is a big problem. As long as I stand as Mayor, he’s going to have to get through me.”

Just as Minneapolis residents face significant economic challenges, so must they deal with the city’s sizable crime problem. In the early 1990s, crime began trending downward in much of the U.S. for various reasons, including the decline of the crack cocaine epidemic, more aggressive policing strategies, and harsher punishments for criminal behavior. New York City, under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and police commissioner William Bratton, led the way in this regard with their CompStat crime-tracking system and their use of the so-called “broken-windows” approach to crime-prevention. In comparison to other cities, Minneapolis was slow to adopt the new law-enforcement and criminal-justice strategies and thus lagged behind the national trend for several years. But once the city changed its ways (e.g., by incorporating CompStat) in the late 1990s, it likewise experienced a significant reduction in crime.

Nevertheless, crime Minneapolis remains highly problematic. For example, the city’s violent crime rate is about 3.7 times higher than Minnesota’s statewide average. When compared to the U.S. as a whole, the rate at which rapes are committed in Minneapolis is 137% higher than the national average; the rate at which robberies are committed in Minneapolis is 236% higher; and the rate at which assaults are committed in Minneapolis is 69% higher. All told, Minneapolis ranks among the most dangerous 5 percent of all U.S. cities.

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis was the scene of a highly controversial, racially charged death. A 46-year-old black resident named George Floyd was arrested by police on suspicion that he had passed counterfeit money in a local store. When a white police officer named Derek Chauvin subsequently stopped Floyd, the suspect repeatedly said that he could not breathe while he stood alongside the police car. He also resisted getting into the vehicle, and then he intentionally fell, face down onto the street. Seeing that Floyd was not physically well, Chauvin and his fellow officers called for an ambulance. While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, Chauvin pressed one of his knees down on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd lay handcuffed and prone on the street. Two other officers further restrained Floyd, and a fourth officer prevented onlookers from intervening. During the episode, Floyd repeatedly said he was unable to breathe and begged to be repositioned. He eventually died. The actions of Officer Chauvin were universally condemned by people along every point of the political spectrum, and an investigation into Floyd’s death was immediately referred to the FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, and his three fellow officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

After Floyd’s death, protests and violent riots broke out not only in Minneapolis but also in dozens of other cities nationwide.

In early June 2020, Minneapolis’s Democrat officials vowed that their city would “dismantle” the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and “replace” it with something else. City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison, for one, wrote: “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department. And when we’re done, we’re not simply gonna glue it back together. We are going to dramatically rethink how we approach public safety and emergency response. It’s really past due.” City Council president Lisa Bender likewise spoke of the council’s plan to “dismantle” the MPD and “replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.” She suggested that the changes might include reducing law-enforcement’s jurisdiction solely to cases involving violent crime, while assigning social workers and EMTs to other types of cases.

On June 7, 2020, the Minneapolis City Council formally announced that 9 of its 12 members — a veto-proof majority — were indeed voting to support the MPD’s defunding. “We committed to dismantling policing as we know it in the city of Minneapolis and to rebuild with our community a new model of public safety that actually keeps our community safe,” said Council president Lisa Bender.

On June 26, 2020, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously — by a vote of 12 to 0 — approved a measure to abolish the city’s police department. According to the New York Post: “The 12-0 vote will not automatically dismantle the department, but is a first step in a long legislative process that will ultimately need popular support by city residents in a November election.”

This piece was posted in June 2020.

Additional Resources:

Escape From Minneapolis
By Daniel Greenfield
June 12, 2020

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