Minneapolis mob beatings: With downtown on edge, police increase patrols [MAP]
As news of another mob beating circulated yesterday -- the seventh in downtown Minneapolis since February 3 -- we heard from a lot of people increasingly concerned about their safety when out and about downtown in the evening.
All seven attacks have occurred after 7:30 p.m., with four happening before 9:45 p.m.
Reached for comment this morning, Sgt. Steve McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Department said officers have increased downtown patrols in hopes of preventing an eighth attack.
"We have more patrols, particularly on Nicollet and Hennepin, after dark until about 1 or 2 in the morning," McCarty said.
More patrols can't hurt, but they aren't a surefire way to prevent another beating. On March 23 two bikers traveling down Nicollet Avenue were attacked by a mob of young people while stopped at Fifth Street. A Fox 9 report suggested the attack happened right in front of officers who were watching a group of men at a bus stop at the intersection -- a suggestion McCarty denies.
Antonio Dewayne Jones, 20, is thus far the only adult arrested in connection with the mob beatings.
The March 23 attack "didn't happen right in front of police," McCarty said. "They watched it unfold from a distance." A number of juveniles and an adult were arrested after officers gave chase.
In addition to increased patrols, police are also analyzing video from downtown security camera systems to gather whatever information they might contain about suspects. McCarty said police don't presently have plans to release any footage, but will go public if they think doing so could help them identify suspects.
In addition, Minneapolis police have started pushing the idea of implementing an earlier downtown curfew to get groups of youths off the streets by 8 p.m. Currently, 15- to 17-year-olds can be on the streets unsupervised until 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends.
The earlier curfew would apply only to Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues. Hennepin hasn't been the site of any of the attacks, while four have taken place along Nicollet Mall. Two took place a block east of Nicollet on Marquette while the other happened near the intersection of Fourth and Second in northwest downtown.
Police want an earlier curfew along Nicollet Mall, site of four of the attacks.
To become law, the proposal would have to be approved by the City Council. McCarty said he's not sure when council will get around to considering the earlier curfew, but added, "if [council] is going to do it, I would imagine it'd be in place by summer."
The curfew proposal "is in the very early stages," McCarty said. Calls to council members Lisa Goodman, who represents downtown, and Don Samuels, chair of the council's public safety committee, weren't immediately returned. A staffer later called to say Samuels is out of town for the week.
McCarty, a 21-year veteran of the MPD, said that throughout his tenure, "there's always been cases when unsuspecting people have been attacked." He acknowledged, however, that the recent string of mob beatings is abnormal.
"It's not anything new, but we have seen a slight increase," McCarty said.
Here's a map depicting the locations of all seven downtown mob attacks. Click the placemarks for each attack's location along with a brief synopsis of what happened:
View Minneapolis 'Flash Mob' Beatings Map in a larger map
-- Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Victim details "sudden" attack on Saturday night, March 31
-- Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Police want earlier downtown curfew
-- Minneapolis flash mob beatings: Victim's mother details St. Patrick's Day attack
-- Downtown Minneapolis rocked by six violent "flash mob" attacks during last two months
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