The pool deck of a luxury apartment building at the foot of the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis served as a recording studio of sorts on the 4th of July as some residents captured the chaos below.
“Oh my God,” one resident cried as a firework exploded near her balcony.
In another clip from that night, one renter confronted the crowd only to have a firework thrown at him.
“Call the cops, pussy,” a young man shouted back at him.
In more videos, fireworks were tossed at police as they attempted to push crowds out.
Now, apartments where some renters pay more than $3,000 a month to live are covered in blast marks, even a bullet hole in one case.
Days later, Alpha News went back to Father Hennepin Park to walk the bridge with someone who has the power to actually do something about it, Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council member Michael Rainville, a Democrat.
We asked what he says when people ask if Minneapolis is safe.
“I tell them it is safe. Absolutely. Do you have to be cautious? Yes, especially late at night,” he said. However, he admits it’s getting to be a harder message to sell with all that’s gone on.
“It’s really hard. It’s really hard to see the deterioration of civility,” he said.
Rainville said the city is pursuing what he calls “immediate prevention efforts,” such as installing concrete blocks and barriers around the park to keep street racers out.
“Second Street South has been redesigned by a series of cul-de-sacs so hopefully nobody comes back and keeps shooting fireworks and driving around, and Boom Island is talking about putting a gate at the entryway so it can be opened and closed at 10 or 12 o’clock at night,” he added.
Boom Island recorded 100 gunshots alone on the 4th of July. Seven people were hospitalized.
But some believe the efforts do more to punish the people who live there rather than the criminals intent on destruction.
“My dad was actually looking at the buildings it happened at and he was planning on moving there and now he’s not because of the whole thing,” one young woman told us.
Others wonder if the barriers will be effective after a video captured one man simply moving a barricade and driving through.
Public safety advocate and citizen reporter, Crime Watch, believes it’s time to get a loitering ordinance back on the books in Minneapolis.
We asked Rainville the question.
“The loitering ordinance was taken away and there are those that say it’s a tool that the police need. I look forward to public discussions about how do we get a handle on this crime. This is not the safe city it used to be and we have to be smart enough to understand why,” he responded.
Rainville believes a lack of support for the police also plays a role.
It’s why he often delivers food to MPD precincts at roll calls and talks to officers about what’s going on.
“Just a real simple message. Thank you. I have no idea what it’s like to do your job being so short, but you’re doing a great job,” he said to the seven officers at one roll call.
The staffing shortage in a department down hundreds of officers is easy to see. There’s a sign on the door at the Second Precinct that says the front desk is no longer staffed.
This is a precinct where gunshot wounds have skyrocketed 675% from 2018, and where some officers told Alpha News they have yet to see the mayor or any other council member stop by.
We asked Council Member Rainville what kind of message that sends.
“I can’t speak for the other council members or the mayor but I’m from a blue collar family,” he said. “My family taught me to respect all public employees, especially the police.”