Concerned citizens plan to hold a rally this week in opposition to Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty’s handling of the Twin Cities crime crisis.
Erin, one of the organizers of the rally who asked that her last name be withheld, said she would ultimately like to see a recall of Moriarty but believes a rally is a good place to start to draw attention to the issue.
“What can we do? What can we do?” she said, at a loss with the situation. “Well, let’s just do a rally.”
The rally, set to take place Wednesday afternoon in front of the Hennepin County Government Center, is scheduled for 2 p.m. to coincide with the working hours of those inside the building. Erin believes that the visible presence of the rally will make a more compelling case for their cause.
The event will feature the Beason family from Minnetonka, victims of a carjacking, and the families of Zaria McKeever and Steve Markey, all coming together to “speak out against injustices in their cases,” according to Erin.
“We have victims who will be speaking. These people have been wronged,” Erin said.
One of rally organizers’ key grievances is a lack of consequences for juvenile offenders, which Erin argued perpetuates a cycle of negative reinforcement.
“Hennepin County has become a hotbed for juvenile crime, especially with regard to motor vehicle theft. Most perpetrators are repeat offenders, known to law enforcement and although law enforcement are working hard to conduct investigations and apprehend suspects, they need more resources to keep up with the cases,” Erin explained. “HCAO has such low clearance rates for their cases that juveniles continue to get negative reinforcement without consequences or justice for the victims.”
Progressive juvenile justice reform was a pillar of Moriarty’s campaign. She has defended her approach to juvenile crime by arguing that juveniles’ brains aren’t fully developed and thus their impulse control is lower. However, as Moriarty notes, the “decision making part of the brain isn’t fully developed” until the age of 25, about seven years after a person is considered an adult.
“This rally was formed for the community and families who have been impacted by violence in Hennepin County. Too many victims are not receiving justice in this county. They are being victimized over and over again by the HCAO. It must stop,” Erin said.
One of the families participating in the rally is seeking justice after Moriarty offered a juvenile probation for his involvement in the murder of Steve Markey in 2019. “Our family is being revictimized by Mary Moriarty with this miscarriage of justice,” said Kristin Derus Dore, Markey’s cousin.
Moriarty’s tenure has been marked by disapproval from residents of Hennepin County, beginning with her dismissal of a rape case during her first week of serving as county attorney. She claimed the case had to be dismissed because a prosecutor lied to a judge about the contents of a note, though not everyone agreed with that reasoning.
More recently, Moriarty’s office reportedly intervened to prevent a 22-year-old (who was 16 at the time of the abuse) from going to prison for his sexual assault of a 9-year-old. She also dismissed charges against the suspect in the police pursuit that resulted in the death of Leneal Frazier in 2021 and the subsequent conviction of former officer Brian Cummings.
“I think it takes a lot of courage actually to act upon what you say you’re going to do,” she told the Star Tribune. “But if you’re truly going to make change, if you truly are about your values, and you want to have integrity, and you believe in research and look at the data, these are the right decisions and I stand by them.”
Erin questioned the priorities of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, asking, “Why is Mary Moriarty’s office more concerned with criminals than victims of crime?”