Minnesota saw the highest number of murders on record in 2020, as well the most assaults against police officers in the line of duty ever recorded within a one-year period, according to the annual uniform crime report released by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension on Tuesday.
Just a few months into last year, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. brought economic uncertainty, which further escalated as Minneapolis became the tipping point for sometimes violent demonstrations calling to "defund the police" in reaction to viral bystander video showing former Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee to the back of George Floyd’s neck until the Black man died.
Reeling from the aftermath, Minnesota recorded a 16.6% increase in violent crimes in 2020. There were 185 murders in 2020 in Minnesota compared to 117 in 2019, an increase of 58.1%, the report says. The 2020 number also tops by two the 183 total from 1995, which previously had been the highest total. Also, 75% of the murders in 2020 were committed with a firearm, up from 69% in 2019.
There were 667 incidents last year involving an officer or officers assaulted in the line of duty. That represents a 62% increase over 2019, and more than any other year on record, the report says.
Bias crimes spiked the highest in 15 years, rising sharply in 2020 with 223 incidents reported. According to the bureau, 41% of the 2020 incidents were motivated by anti-Black or African American bias.
Rev. Jerry McAfee, a civil rights activist who organized community patrols in north Minneapolis in response to a series of shootings that left at least two children dead this year, said the numbers of assaults, rapes and other violent crime counted by the bureau may be underreported.
"When you have a police force operating 200 under, the distrust some of the people have with the police department, some good, some bad, and the overall level of trauma that exists within our community, it's rough out here," McAfee told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
After his 6-year-old granddaughter was killed by stray bullets earlier this year, local peace activist K.G. Wilson, who’s worked for decades helping to keep children out of gangs and guns off the streets, said he’s choosing to leave Minneapolis amid the record-breaking crime surge.
"I’m just done in Minneapolis. I don’t want to work here. I don’t want to be here," Wilson told Fox 9 Minneapolis in an on-camera interview Tuesday. Despite his efforts, Wilson said, "All I feel like I got in return is a murdered 6-year-old granddaughter and no arrests, and it’s been two months later."
The bureau report says there were 31 officer-involved shooting incidents recorded in 2020, an increase of six over 2019, and almost evenly split between the Twin Cities metro and Greater Minnesota.
Out of the 45 use-of-force incidents reported by Minnesota agencies last year, 21 involved individuals who were White, 14 were Black, three were Asian, three were American Indian and five were unknown.
After a significant downward trend over the past several years, arson rose 53.7% over 2019. There were 710 arsons reported in 2020 and 462 in 2019. Motor vehicle theft rose 19.7% in 2020 with 13,662 vehicles stolen as compared to 11,410 in 2019. The 2020 total is the highest since 2005.
The value of property stolen in 2020 topped $216 million, a 54.5% increase over 2019. Some of the biggest increases were in the value of stolen food and grooming products, money and vehicles.
Minnesota Republicans argued that the report released Tuesday shows Democrats have been taking too lenient of an approach to crime and the data further supports the need for more law enforcement.
But Minneapolis officials have been supporting a measure that would allow voters in November to decide whether to "replace" the police department and are, meanwhile, fighting a judge’s ruling siding with northern Minneapolis residents wanting more cops hired to abide by the city charter.
State Sen. Warren Limmer, chair of the Public Safety and Judiciary Committee and a Republican, said Tuesday’s report "confirms what we've been talking about for several years at the Senate: Violent criminals are finding more victims and lenient accountability measures in the judicial system are not keeping people safe."
State Rep. Brian Johnson, another Republican, also released a statement highlighting GOP proposals in the House that would involve sending Minnesota State Patrol into high-risk areas of Minneapolis, expanding the police force and promoting the use of ShotSpotter technology, the Tribune reported.