Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the city needed to keep its schools open in order to fight skyrocketing violent crime and carjackings across the city.
Frey made the unusual statements at a joint press conference with Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Amelia Huffman on Jan. 5 as school districts nationwide debated whether to stay open for in-person classes or return to virtual learning amidst the latest outbreak.
The mayor said the school closures being seen in other major cities wouldn’t work for Minneapolis, FOX News reported.
“We’ve gotta keep the schools open. This is very clear to me,” Frey told reporters at City Hall.
“Yes, we need to make sure we’re abiding by the necessary safety precautions. Yes, we need to make sure anyone from parents to teachers to students are protected in full from the dangers associated with a global pandemic, and we need to make sure the students are in the schools and that they’re able to learn,” the mayor continued.
“When we don’t have that, boredom sets in. And boredom is no excuse for carjacking,” the mayor added. “But it’s on all of us to make sure that these recreational, educational activities continue.”
Crime has been on the rise in Minneapolis since the death of George Floyd in the custody of the city’s police on May 25, 2020, FOX News reported.
City council members proposed abolishing the police department entirely in the immediate wake of Floyd’s death and the nationwide riots that followed.
But Minneapolis voters shot down a ballot measure in November of 2021 that would have allowed the city council to replace the police with a public safety department, allowing for the elimination of police office positions.
Meanwhile, the city’s violent crime problem increased and carjackings by teenagers became a serious problem.
Deputy Chief Huffman, who will become acting chief when Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo retires, pointed to a number of recent high-profile crimes in the city involving juveniles with guns, FOX News reported.
She said that more needed to be done to divert juveniles from “harmful patterns.”
“There’s 100 different causal factors associated with the increase in crime that we’ve seen over the last year and a half,” the mayor told reporters. “It’s the fact we’ve had distanced learning and recreational activities have been slim to at times none. We need to make sure that these recreational activities, these opportunities for kids to safely play and have something to do, are dramatically increased and that they come back.”
“The violent and criminal conduct we have seen in Minneapolis and surrounding cities throughout the last several months is garbage,” Frey continued.
“I could stand up here and tell you, and many will, that this is a national trend. That every single major city in the entire country is seeing an uptick in violent crime – in shootings, carjackings, home invasions. And that’s true,” he said. “But who cares? You live in this city. I live in this city. We are responsible for doing everything to stop this violent criminal conduct and holding perpetrators accountable and working on every single possible upstream solution that we can.”
He said that fighting crime had to be more than a police problem, FOX News reported.
“Public safety cannot be a police-only issue,” Frey said.
Despite the mayor’s plea, Minneapolis Public Schools announced it would switch to online instruction on Friday for two weeks, the Associated Press reported.
Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Ed Graff said district officials made the decision after about 400 teachers stayed home on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
That number did not include support staff such as custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and many more employees.