GOP lawmakers unveil crime bills, point a literal finger at Minneapolis mayor

    Outstate Republican legislators today unveiled a proposal to tackle urban crime, months after they first started planting political seeds about the hazards of Minnesota’s cities.

    And Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey didn’t seem thrilled with the presentation.

    Frey attended the news conference about the “Safety In Our Cities” plan, during which “roughly a dozen state lawmakers, joined by Minneapolis Police Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the police union, painted a picture of violent gang and drug activity deterring” suburban and rural residents from visiting the Twin Cities, the Star Tribune reported.

    The mayor jumped in after House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt said Frey wouldn’t increase the number of sworn officers in Minneapolis’ last budget, interjecting that was “not true.”

    Then the press conference ended, and the (literal) finger-pointing began.

    In a video tweeted by Kare 11’s John Croman, Frey and Rep. Matt Grossell, a Republican representing a district along Minnesota’s northern border, walk down a Capitol hallway as Frey asks Grossell to stick to the facts.

    “You’ve got to have transparency. You can’t lie to people. People deserve to hear the truth, so next time, do that for me,” Frey says, clapping Grossell on the back. 

    “Don’t touch me,” Grossell says and points a finger at Frey. “You stop lying. Stop lying to your community. Stop putting your community in danger. Stop tying the hands of your law enforcement.”

    “Talk to your officers on the ground,” Grossell continues.

    Just then, Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, DFL-Minneapolis, interjects to tell Frey that “we are so proud of you.”

    GOP legislators — not a single one of whom represent either St. Paul or Minneapolis — made clear long before the session started that they were prepared to leverage urban crime to gain support in the suburbs, despite the fact that violent crime in both cities has dropped since the early 1990s, in line with national and state trends. Reports of violent crimes reached a 28-year low in Minneapolis in 2018, and an all-time low in St. Paul in 2019, Minnesota Reformer previously reported.

    Their “Safety In Our Cities” package includes bills that would increase resources for Metro Transit police and require that cities with “regional or statewide sports and entertainment facilities” have enough police officers near those venues or risk state aid for local governments.

    Rilyn Eischens
    Rilyn Eischens is a data reporter with the Reformer. Rilyn is a Minnesota native and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.