‘Do as they say’: Minneapolis police warn people to obey criminals for their own safety as violent crime surges amid BLM protests

‘Do as they say’: Minneapolis police warn people to obey criminals for their own safety as violent crime surges amid BLM protests

Embattled Minneapolis police are advising residents on survival skills amid a wave of violent crime, offering such tips as “be prepared to give up your cell phone and purse/wallet” to robbers and “do not walk alone.”

“Do not argue or fight with the criminal,” police said in a July 28 letter to Third Precinct residents. “Do what they say. Your safety is most important.”

The Third Precinct, southeast of downtown, was one of the areas hardest hit by protests-turned-riots that broke out following the May 25 killing of black man George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Ensuing demonstrations and riots in the adjoining cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul marked the second-most
destructive incident of civil unrest in US history.

Police were forced to abandon their Third Precinct headquarters for their own safety on May 28 as rioters pulled down a fence and set the building on fire.

Carjackings and other robberies have skyrocketed in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Police said there were 20 carjackings and 100 other robberies reported in July in the Third Precinct alone. “Some victims have been maced, dragged, assaulted and some threatened with a gun,” police said in the warning to locals.

In an era of rising crime and a push by many on the left to defund police and “reimagine” law enforcement in Democrat-controlled cities, the self-help tips in Minneapolis may be a sign of things to come. 

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The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously in June to replace the city’s police department with a “department of community safety and violence prevention, which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.”

The plan will need approval from voters in November, meaning it will primarily affect police resources after 2020, but the city last month took $1.1 million out of this year’s police budget to fund a Health Department program in which staff are sent out to “mediate” violent conflicts. Some Minneapolis residents are already adjusting to deteriorating public safety by setting up armed patrols in their neighborhoods.

Minneapolis police are operating under a court order that bans such tactics as choke holds and requires that any use of rubber bullets or other crowd-control measures be approved by the police chief. More than 150 officers filed disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder and other injuries suffered during the protests.

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In Seattle, where officers were banned altogether from using crowd-control weapons, Police Chief Carmen Best warned business owners last month that her department would have “no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.” 

Seattle City Council members introduced a resolution Friday to create a new community safety department that would replace much of the police force.

Police also have been restrained by city leaders in Portland, which had 15 reported homicides in July, the highest monthly total in more than three decades. There were 63 shootings reported through the first 29 days of July, police data showed, up from 28 in all of July 2019.

Newsmax journalist John Cardillo, a former New York City policeman, said in a tweet that the Minneapolis letter essentially tells residents to “prepare to be robbed, obey criminals and hand over their belongings. This is where we are now.”

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