Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Thursday that the demand for marijuana is fueling gang activity and the violence that sometimes results.
The city had its 20th homicide of the year this week, surpassing the total number of homicides in all of 2009. Police believe the fatal shooting Monday near Lake Calhoun was gang related.
Rybak told MPR's Morning Edition that white, middle-class Minnesotans are buying marijuana "with a little wink and a nod, thinking it has nothing to do with anything. It is literally paying for bullets that kill people."
"Any person who buys marijuana in this region is directly or indirectly giving money that goes to gangs," he said. "We've got to shut off the spigot."
The number of homicides in Minneapolis this year -- 20 -- is higher than in years past, and Rybak said it's "an extremely serious issue."
As for fighting gang activity, Rybak said police have altered their strategies. Gangs used to have a "top down" organizational structure, but they're now becoming more random, Rybak said. More officers have been sent to patrol areas where city officials predict incidents could happen, he said.
Rybak said the high number of homicides in the city this year is an "extremely serious issue," though he said last year's low rate was extraordinary.
"We're not going to have great rates like that every year," he said.
(MPR's Cathy Wurzer contributed to this report.)