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'Bullets don't discriminate': Parents pack U of M meeting amid rising crime on and around campus

The University of Minnesota hosted a hearing session regarding on/off-campus safety with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and MPD Interim Chief Amelia Huffman.

MINNEAPOLIS — It was standing room only for a meeting tonight on the U of M campus to address mounting safety concerns.

Police say that crime is up and parents got the chance to express their frustrations.

"I love the University of Minnesota, I hate what I see going on right now," said Brian Peck, whose son goes to the U. "He said, mom and dad, do you know that every single day I wake-up to go to class, I’m scared for my life."

Minneapolis Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman says crime is up 45% since the pandemic, but says the department and campus police share a strong relationship and are committed to combating crime. 

She reported out of 278 shootings in the city this year, 10% have happened in the precinct that includes the U, while 40% happened on the city's north side. 

The University says its invested $60 million in public safety in two years, including mobile lighting and a new safety awareness campaign.

It's also trying to hire 10 new community service officers. 

Still, some parents pressed for other solutions and in the meantime, started a non-profit called the "Campus Safety Coalition", that's recruiting board members.

"Bullets don't discriminate," said another parent. "And we appreciate everything you have done, but this is an exigent circumstance not just in the community here, we recognize it is in the greater Twin Cities area."

Three months ago, when local restauranteur Chang Yoo decided to open CrunCheese Korean Hot Dog in Dinkytown, he said he knew it would be a lucrative business.

"The hot dog is quick and easy, grab-and-go food, so I thought it would be a good fit here," Yoo explained.

However, sitting right at the corner of 14th Ave SE and SE 4th street in Dinkytown, he said he is aware of the crime in the area.

"We also have people driving, revving up [cars] like crazy, doing donuts in the middle of the street, and it scares our customers away," he said.

And just overnight, CrunCheese too became a victim of a crime.

"I just got here in the morning, and I discovered that somebody broke into our restaurant and they took our cash register and tip jar," Yoo said.

He added that luckily nothing was damaged and no one was hurt.

"So we just pay extra attention to our safety, of our employees and customers and we make sure we lock the doors and stuff," he said.

Safety of staff and customers was also forefront when the owners of Burrito Loco decided to temporarily close as well.

They declined to be interviewed on camera but said in a statement that they will be closed until "security measures are put into place."

"The city, state, and specifically the U of M have continued to promise us more safety over the last few years but we have yet to see any of it. Unfortunately, it's the local businesses and apartments that hire security and off-duty officers to have some sort of law authority presence," Burrito Loco owners said in a statement.

Monday's meeting not only featured Huffman, but the U's president Joan Gabel, along with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the UMPD's chief and others.

Yoo said he's hoping tonight's security meeting on campus will be fruitful.

"It will be nice if we can have police patrol around the area more often, especially in night so people feel safe," he said. "We have some issues but I like the location here, and it's busy."

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