A St. Paul restaurant owner whose establishments have been targeted by criminals on numerous occasions has once again expressed frustration with high crime and inadequate police staffing in the Twin Cities area.
At a U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Brian Ingram testified to a wide variety of incidents targeting his restaurants: windows shot out and shattered, criminals using his parking lot as a gathering place, and robbers casually stealing the purses and car keys of employees.
“Crime has now become a daily part of life. All seven of my restaurants and offices have been robbed numerous times, on many occasions by the same criminal,” he said. “The same criminal would be released within 24 hours of robbing my restaurants, then show back up a few weeks later to rob me again.”
Ingram noted before the committee how late night dining at his restaurants has collapsed because patrons don’t feel safe.
“Minneapolis has become a ghost town. I was recently offered a restaurant in Minneapolis for one penny, and I said no to it,” he added.
Further issues affecting Ingram and his businesses include a general epidemic of shootings around the Twin Cities area, as well as the proliferation of drugs such as fentanyl. Ingram said one of his kitchen managers recently passed away after accidentally overdosing on fentanyl.
“Our hope is that all of you will come together and figure out how we stop crime in our cities before our cities are gone,” he said.
Ingram was invited to testify by Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee. In his opening statement, Emmer explained how rampant crime creates a vicious cycle of customers feeling unsafe, which leads businesses to close, which creates unsightly vacant buildings that only breed more crime.
“Americans should never, never feel this level of unsafety in their own communities,” Emmer said. “We must return to a society of law and order.”
Ingram’s appearance at Tuesday’s hearing was hardly the first time he has called on public officials to do more to curb violent crime. In May 2021, after one of his restaurants had been burglarized for the sixth time in as many months, Ingram criticized “catch and release” policies and begged prosecutors and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter to do their jobs.
“I’m asking again for Melvin Carter to step up and do something. How are you leading our city? We need you,” he said in a video posted to Facebook at the time. “We need you to stop talking about what you’re going to do in the future. I need you to talk about what you’re going to do to help crime in our city right now.”