Tuesday, July 26, 2005


MINNEAPOLIS'S MURDER RATE peaked in 1995; that year the New York Times dubbed Minneapolis "Murderapolis." Gangs had taken over the city's poorest neighborhoods and gang crime had become highly visible. In 1996 three Minneapolis officers were dispatched to New York City to study the "broken windows" crime-prevention program which had been implemented by Rudy Giuliani and Police Chief William Bratton.

Upon their return to Minneapolis, the officers helped introduce a version of that program they named "CODEFOR." Then-Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and then-Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson supported the implementation of the program and were delighted to claim credit for its success, which was virtually immediate.

By the fall of 2002, however, two high-profile murders suggested that gangs had retaken the streets and that Murderapolis had returned. In September, 19-year-old University of Minnesota student-athlete Brandon Hall was gunned down by a thug in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Hall had survived the mean streets of Detroit only to lose his life a year after moving to Minneapolis to fulfill his dream of playing Big 10 football. In November, 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards was shot and killed while she studied at home with her younger sister at her side, caught in the crossfire of a shootout among three gang members. Chief Olson memorably commented: "This is just another case of someone who's mad at somebody else getting mad and firing shots."

This year the situation in Minneapolis has continued to deteriorate in remarkable ways. Downtown sidewalks have become daytime hangouts for gang thugs. When Minneapolis businesses desperately sought law enforcement assistance this past spring, they were told to hire private security guards for their customers. In April, a group of nine thugs--six of whom were known gang members--attacked a 15-year-old boy who was dragged from a Metro Transit bus, pummeled, and robbed before he escaped and sought help. (The assault was caught on a chilling videotape, courtesy of the camera installed on the bus.) The 15-year-old victim had boarded the bus at the intersection of 7th Street and the Nicollet Mall--the heart of the shopping area in downtown Minneapolis. Earlier this month the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that murders have increased 55 percent in Minneapolis over the same period last year.

What happened between 2000 and 2005 to cause the sharp deterioration in the progress made in controlling Minneapolis crime? Minneapolis is a case study in the destructive effects of one-party liberal rule and a stultifying political culture.

STARTING IN THE SPRING of 2000, the Minneapolis Police Department voluntarily collected data on the race of drivers stopped in routine traffic checks. Chief Olson reported the results in January; both he and Mayor Sayles Belton contributed to the predictable charges of "racial profiling" that followed the announcement of the results. Olson was quoted observing that "there is a problem, but we don't know the level of it and how, yet, to identify it." Sayles Belton pronounced herself disappointed but not surprised by the numbers. Chief Olson submitted the data to Minneapolis's "independent" (liberal) Council on Crime and Justice, a key purveyor of the "racial disparities" line of attack on law enforcement.

As Dr. David Pence wrote of the Council on Crime and Justice in City Fathers magazine, "there is no group whose work and philosophy are more diametrically opposed to the police strategy represented by CODEFOR." Pence continued: "Handing over police data to this ideological group (currently headed by former County Attorney Tom Johnson) is a breach of confidence between the chief and police officers. To give [the Council] data, which places [it] in the role of unbiased expert, is to supply one's executioner with both well-made bullets and a shooting vantage point."

The results of the Council's study were released in April 2001 and produced an occasion for the Star Tribune to trumpet "racial disparities" in traffic stops, although the report itself was agnostic on the question of "racial profiling." The Star Tribune has observed a strict taboo against an exploration of the connection between "racial disparities" in traffic stops and other law enforcement outcomes and racial disparities in crime rates.

More important than the Star Tribune's superficial coverage of the traffic stop data was the lack of support for the police on the part of both the mayor and the chief. Not surprisingly, Minneapolis police officers reacted accordingly, reducing traffic stops and other discretionary enforcement activity that had helped get gangs off the streets just a few years earlier. Minneapolis has not been the same since.

AS A RESULT of Mayor Sayles Belton's failure to support the officers, the police supported R.T. Rybak, Sayles Belton's opponent in the 2001 mayoral election, despite the fact that Rybak was the more liberal candidate. Rybak, in fact, talked about crime and law enforcement solely in the context of "racial disparities." Rybak never seriously addressed the problem of crime in Minneapolis or the necessity of supporting the CODEFOR policing program. His key supporters were Minneapolis's lakeside liberals, for whom crime is not a problem, and his victory in the mayoral election has had predictable results.

Gangs have returned to Minneapolis in full force. First they returned to the residential neighborhoods north and south of downtown. This year they expanded their territory to the streets of downtown.

More here


Arrogant neo-Stalinist bureaucrats think what people want does not count and also totally ignore evidence that overweight people live longer. Prosecuting them for shortening students' lifespans would be real fun

Students are going elsewhere for fast-food fixes as tuckshops take chips, pies and lollies off the menu. Primary and secondary students are beating the State Government's healthy food reforms by bingeing on junk food before school and heading off-campus for greasy lunches. Nutrition experts say the alarming trend is contributing to the obesity crisis among Queensland's youth. "It's a crisis . . . and it's getting worse," Griffith University's Dr Shawn Somerset said.

Education Minister Anna Bligh concedes schools may have to introduce even tougher rules to stop the unhealthy trend. It is likely school lunch passes will be reviewed. "Parents and schools should be actively discouraging students from bringing these types of foods into school grounds," Ms Bligh said. Education Queensland last month outlined policies requiring school canteens to have healthy menus in place by next July. Many tuckshops have already started introducing the changes. Students have already shown their distaste for the new food. "Kids are going to the shops because they can get fast foods there," 16-year-old Gold Coast student Toke told The Sunday Mail. "We go to the corner shop now. There's no hot chips at school."

Another teenager predicts students would rebel against the fast-food bans. "There will be complaints," 17-year-old Elizabeth said. "Whatever anyone brings from home you can't control. Kids will be bringing soft drinks and chocolates to school."

The Sunday Mail this week watched as parents dropped their children at fast-food outlets, where they bought bags of hash browns and fries before making their way to class. Other groups of students were seen stocking up on litre bottles of soft drink, or leaving school grounds at lunchtime to buy hamburgers and hotdogs at corner stores.

An alarmed Ms Bligh will consider introducing rules forcing students to remain at school during breaks. Dr Somerset, a nutrition researcher, said students who binged on fast foods risked serious long-term health problems. He warned the problem was contributing to an "epidemic of obesity" among youths. "It's caused by the trash culture. We're being bombarded by it. They see people eating junk on television, on billboards their peers are eating junk, and then what happens is they start mimicking it," Dr Somerset said. Because Australia was such a successful sporting nation, many parents and their children wrongly believed they could "burn off" their increased fat intake from the "fast food palaces". "Sometimes you can. Sometimes you can't undo the damage, particularly when it's your arteries."

Queensland Parents and Citizens Association operations manager Greg Donaldson demanded corner shops and fast-food outlets "lift their game". "We've said right from the start that the school community can't control what kids eat before nine and after three and on the weekends," Mr Donaldson said. "When they're in the care of schools they will be given a range of healthy things to eat and drink. "But there's also a corporate responsibility for people selling these unhealthy foods to play their part, to lift their game."

An Education Queensland spokesman said that as part of the tuckshop reforms, staff would teach students about making good food choices "at all times of the day, and not just when they are at school". He indicated schools would also crack down on students using lunch passes to stock up on fast foods. "The intent of these lunch passes is to allow an individual student to leave the school to go home for lunch and return to school. "Lunch passes are not intended to allow students to leave for other reasons."


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