Left: A photo of Telly Blair and his mother, Marnette, rests on a table in their home in north Minneapolis. Right: Marnette Gordon, 61, mother of Telly Blair, 36, who lost his life to gun violence in north Minneapolis, photographed in her home. – Andrea Ellen Reed for CNN
After the police murder of George Floyd in May of 2020, Minneapolis became a worldwide symbol of the police brutality long endured disproportionately by Black people. In a kind of Newtonian response, the city became the epicenter of the culturally seismic “Defund the Police” movement. But that progressive local effort fizzled with a decisive referendum last November.
Now, with its police department under investigation by the Department of Justice, the city of 425,000 is trying to find a way forward amid a period of heightened crime that began shortly after Floyd’s death.
That year, the number of murders soared to nearly 80 — dwarfing the 2019 body count of 46. It has cooled somewhat this year, though the amount of killing — and violent crime in general — remains elevated far above 2019 levels and homicides are on pace to surpass the 2020 figure. The reasons why are far from clear.
KG Wilson, a longtime resident of the Twin Cities, said police withdrew from violent neighborhoods in the aftermath of Floyd’s killing — a common sentiment among locals.
“The criminals were celebrating. They were getting rich,” he said. “They were selling drugs openly.”
Wilson told CNN the violence devastated his own family: His 6-year-old granddaughter was killed in May of 2021 after getting caught in the crossfire of a gunfight in north Minneapolis. The culprit remains at large.
Another factor was the pandemic, which some observers see as the biggest impetus for the crime surge.
“It unsettled settled trajectories,” said Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor who is now a professor at St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. “Kids who were going to school, who would have graduated but drifted off because there is no school — we’re seeing a lot of the violent crime is by juveniles.”
This is what they voted for. I am sorry that it’s such a brutal lesson but we did warn them