Twin Cities part of White House effort to curb violence

A man at a podium gestures.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, pictured here during a press conference at City Hall on June 3, says he welcomes a collaboration with the White House as the city tries to combat a surge in gun violence. 
Evan Frost | MPR News file

The Twin Cities are part of 15 metro areas across the country selected to participate in an anti-violence collaboration initiated by the Biden administration. The White House announced Wednesday the cities have committed to using portions of American Rescue Plan dollars to take part in so-called “community violence initiatives.” 

The Biden plan focuses on fighting illegal firearms and illegal sales by gun dealers, provides federal support for local law enforcement, invests in violence intervention programs, summer programming and jobs for teens and young adults, and helps people released from prison and jail reenter their communities.

The announcement from the White House is supported by Minneapolis city leaders. In a statement Mayor Jacob Frey said he welcomes the White House collaboration with the city as it tries to combat a surge in gun violence so far this year. 

“Our country is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence, and Minneapolis isn’t immune to it," said Frey. "My proposal for the first wave of federal Rescue Plan funding features a strong commitment to violence prevention and intervention work in addition to resources for law enforcement." 

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Gun violence in Minneapolis has been on the rise since 2019. So far this year at least 288 people have been wounded by gunfire. That's an increase of 48 percent compared to the same period in 2020 and a 123 percent increase over the number of people wounded by gunfire in 2019.

Minneapolis is not alone. The White House says gun assaults are up sharply in 2021 in large cities, and homicides are up by more than 20 percent over last year, and by nearly half over 2019.

Minneapolis City Council member Phillipe Cunningham chairs the council's Public Health and Safety Committee. He welcomed the announcement from the White House.

“Seeing federal investment of this size into comprehensive gun violence prevention has been desperately needed and is readily welcomed,” he said.

The City Council is scheduled to vote next week on Frey's proposal to spend a portion of the $271 million the city will receive under the American Rescue Plan.