Results, reaction from first weekend of Dinkytown safety initiative

Minneapolis and University of Minnesota Police wrapped up their first weekend of a new safety effort in Dinkytown on Sunday, following several weekends where police reported responding to rowdy crowds, often teenagers.

The “Dinkytown Safe Streets” initiative, a partnership between the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minneapolis Department of Neighborhood Safety and the University of Minnesota Police Department, “ensured that disruptive group activity was reduced or quickly dispersed,” a Minneapolis police spokesperson said Sunday.

Several students living in Dinkytown told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they noticed more patrol cars this weekend but were largely unaware of the initiative, and a few continued to report feeling unsafe in the neighborhood.

“I’ve been living in Dinkytown for three years now, and I think this year is the most, like, dangerous and scary,” University of Minnesota junior Vy Vu said on Sunday.

A video shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS showed people lighting fireworks just after 1 a.m. Saturday near the corner of Fifth Street Southeast and 13th Avenue Southeast, near where Vu lives.

Minneapolis police say a 17-year-old boy was hurt when a firework exploded in his hand.

“There was someone getting jumped outside of my apartment the other weekend,” Vu said.

MPD confirms reports of up to 100 teenagers gathering last weekend.

Police say officers responded to a large fight and an armed robbery about a block from where fireworks were set off Saturday.

“Every time I’m, like, parking my car, I get really scared because there’s people just like hanging out under the garage and stuff,” Vu said.

Residents in the area say the lawlessness is driven mainly by juveniles.

“It feels like it’s just kids, 10- to 17-year-olds, just a couple of them hopping out of cars with guns. That’s what happened to me,” said U of M senior Lars Lieving, who has lived in Dinkytown for a few years.

Lieving says he’s been robbed at gunpoint twice since he moved to the area.

“And there’s not much you can do with a gun in your face,” he said.

Lieving advises students to walk with a buddy. As for Vu, she says she won’t be back next year.

Brian Peck, president of the Campus Safety Coalition, has a son who’s currently enrolled at the U of M. He said he was not surprised to hear of more police reports.

“Thank goodness that the police are stepping up and they are trying to do everything they can,” he said.
“But we need to really get to the root cause, which is the repeat juvenile criminals that continue to plague Dinkytown and frankly, most of Minneapolis.”

Peck called on Hennepin County to create juvenile rehabilitation programs to get ahead of repeat behavior by teenagers.

The county on Friday said its using money from the legislature to put together a “working group on youth interventions.”

We’re told the group won’t be presenting those findings until lawmakers reconvene in February.

The U of M was unavailable for comment Sunday.