08-12-2006, 04:15 AM
Police will target 3 gangs on north side
The monthlong Minneapolis effort is a response to a big increase in violent crime there.
David Chanen, Star Tribune
Three young and loosely organized gangs that Minneapolis police officials say are responsible for a significant chunk of violent crime on the North Side are the target of an intensive monthlong crackdown to dismantle their operations.
On any given day, up to 40 officers will focus on specific gang members from the Emerson Murder Boyz, Tre Tre Crips and 19 Block Dip Set whom police have linked to nearly a dozen homicides and dozens more shootings and robberies. One of the Tre Tre Crips' most recent victims was Toua Xiong, 20, who was shot to death Sunday night after he delivered a pizza, police said.
"Something needs to be done," said Darrell Young, whose 17-year-old brother was killed in a random North Side shooting three weeks ago.
"What if I want my kids to grow up in north Minneapolis? I don't want to be driven out by kids," said Young. whose brother, Sterling Horton, died three blocks from home. "That's never gonna happen."
Capt. Mike Martin said Wednesday that the new strategy involves surveillance of gang members and making sure that any probation requirements are strictly enforced. Officers will also have frequent contact with members and will "do whatever they can" to disrupt their ability to commit crimes, he said.
Several residents, City Council members and community activists said they support this latest police action, but others said it gives officers license to racially profile young black men.
"It's just throwing out a net," said the Rev. Ian Bethel, cochairman of the Police Community Relations Council. "This isn't how you deal with crime in any part of the city, especially at the end of the summer."
Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan emphasized that officers won't cruise streets to pick up people randomly. Although he will be on vacation next week, Dolan has reached out to community members and city officials to explain the importance of the new strategy.
This year, 26 of the city's 41 homicides have been in the Fourth Precinct, which covers the North Side. Half of the guns seized in the city by police were recovered in the same area, Dolan said. Through mid-July, violent crime was up 50 percent compared with the same time last year in the Fourth Precinct.
Dolan admits that redirecting so many officers from the Fourth Precinct to a single operation will put prostitution and problem-property cases, and proactive drug enforcement on hold. Fourth Precinct Inspector Don Banham, who developed the gang-fighting strategy, said patrol officers will pick up some of the slack.
"Without a gang unit in the department to get into the face of gang members on a daily basis, the members had an opportunity to get a territory and gain a foothold," Banham said. "With the continuing violent crime, I couldn't wait any longer to do this."
The department's Safe City initiative, announced this summer, was a great way to prioritize crime problems throughout the city, Martin said. But it spread resources too thin and didn't allow for enough proactive policing in the high-crime area, he said.
Martin described the gangs as relatively new, small and less organized than traditional gangs. They are less likely to keep members in line, he said.
Each gang has about 20 active and documented members and another 20 who are associate members, Martin said. Capt. Rich Stanek said these gangs, directly or indirectly, are responsible for a "good majority" of the homicides on the North Side.
"I have a three-ring binder on my desk with documented gang members, and each day I see names from these three gangs showing up over and over again in connection with violent crimes," he said. "We believe the man arrested in the death of the Pizza Hut employee is responsible for a number of other violent acts." The suspect has not been charged yet.
Gawolo Kpissay, 22, who grew up on the North Side, said he's cool with police targeting gang members. He's seen officers doing good work in his neighborhood, but there also are ones who don't give a damn, he said.
"I know some of the kids in the gangs and I know they do bad things. But I've also seen them do good stuff within their family," said Kpissay, who is an organizer for the Peace Foundation in Minneapolis. "Arresting them can't be the only way to deal with them."
City Council Members Barb Johnson and Diane Hofstede support the gang initiative. Johnson said too many residents feel that gang members are forcing residents to become prisoners in their own homes.
Hofstede, who represents the Hawthorne and McKinley neighborhoods on the North Side, said simply announcing a new strategy doesn't make it successful. She knows that some community activists will complain about the strategy, but says new voices and leaders are emerging that speak for north Minneapolis and "the direction we need to be going."
Roberta Englund, executive director of the Folwell Neighborhood Association, said it will only be a matter of time before the violence on the North Side spreads to other parts of the city. The community has been begging police for this kind of initiative, even if it appears that it will involve racial profiling, she said.
"I don't know what choice there is," she said. "We have all kinds of youth programs, and kids are still shooting at each other. We have to face up that these people engaged in violence are beyond are ability to help them. We can't hug them until they are good."
David Chanen • 612-673-4465
©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.
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Minneapolis - brianold - 08-12-2006, 04:14 AM
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