Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is calling on local schools to remain open so that juveniles have far fewer opportunities to engage in carjackings and other crimes.
Frey made his plea at a Wednesday press conference with Deputy Chief Amelia Huffman on the city’s high violent crime rate.
“We’ve gotta keep the schools open. This is very clear to me,” he said. “Yes, we need to make sure we’re abiding by the necessary safety precautions. Yes, we need to make sure anyone from parents to teachers to students are protected in full from the dangers associated with a global pandemic, and we need to make sure the students are in the schools and that they’re able to learn.”
Frey also specifically mentioned the importance of keeping children in class so they aren’t tempted to commit violent crimes. Many carjackings that take place in Minneapolis and its suburbs are carried out by teenagers, some as young as 12 or 13 years old.
“When we don’t have [open schools], boredom sets in. And boredom is no excuse for carjacking,” he said. “But it’s on all of us to make sure that these recreational, educational activities continue.”
“There’s 100 different causal factors associated with the increase in crime that we’ve seen over the last year-and-a-half,” he added. “It’s the fact we’ve had distance learning and recreational activities have been slim to at times none. We need to make sure that these recreational activities, these opportunities for kids to safely play and have something to do, are dramatically increased and that they come back.”
The mayor’s remarks came amid controversy in Chicago, where city leaders are embroiled in a battle with the teachers union after the latter voted to revert back to remote learning. In response to the vote, Chicago Public Schools canceled classes through Friday, with further closures possible into this week.
Chicago teachers justified the vote in light of the highly infectious Omicron variant, yet major public school systems around the country have received a collective $122 billion to keep schools open and help students “catch up on learning they have missed during the pandemic.”