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Is Minneapolis fire station a “problem property”?

From my front porch - it was actually while waiting for the squirrel to reappear - I witnessed an assault that took place on Glenwood Avenue just east of Knox. Six or seven black kids, all teenagers, jumped a white kid who was about the same age near the bus stop at the corner of Glenwood and Cedar Lake Road. The victim’s face was bloody although he retained consciousness and managed to get away. The assailants then scrambled.

Why is this news? Maybe, in Minneapolis, it really isn’t. Physical assaults happen all the time. What makes this somewhat unusual, though, is that it is one of several, even many, assaults that have happened in front of the Minneapolis fire station at 1600 Glenwood Avenue.

Last fall, a white man riding a bicycle was assaulted by a gang of black kids at this location. He had to be taken to the hospital. He told me about another similar assault that had previously happened in front of this station.

Then, about a month ago, the topic came up in a Crime and Safety report for the Harrison Neighborhood Association. Still another assault had taken place in front of that fire station. I pointed out that the city of Minneapolis holds owners of private businesses responsible for crime that occurs in or near their property. Why not ask the city to be responsible for crime in front of its fire station? Why not write the city a letter demanding that it clean up its own “problem property”?

That suggestion went nowhere. Neighborhood associations are beholden to the city for many things.

Now, of course, I don’t think the people who work at that fire station have any responsibility for what happens on the street near their building. I also don’t think owners of convenience stores or apartment buildings do. It is the responsibility of the criminal-justice system, starting with the police but also including prosecutors, judges, and corrections officials. These are the people who have dropped the ball.

I understand that, in at least one of the assaults, the police did arrest several people. That has apparently not deterred the gang of young thugs from striking again in my neighborhood.

I also note the irony that inspectors working for the Minneapolis fire department closed down “Uncle Bill’s Food Market” on the corner of Sheridan and Plymouth because too much crime was allegedly occurred in or near this store. Specifically, it found a sagging joist that meant the building which housed this store was structurally unsound. Closing the building down was the city’s way of making crime disappear.

Maybe the fire inspectors should start looking for sagging joists at their own fire stations as a prelude to shutting these stations down. Well, that’s a “silly season” suggestion which, if the fire stations were privately owned, would, of course, be taken seriously. The problem properties van would be on its way.

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