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Minneapolis, White House team up to curb violence in the city

"I'm not going to lie to you, it's going to be tough. But when you've got the right partners at the table, you can start making strides towards success," Frey said.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Minneapolis leaders met with staff from the White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative (CVIC) on Thursday afternoon to discuss how to prevent violence in the city. 

Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) have been meeting with CVIC on a monthly basis since the initiative began in June 2021. But Thursday was the first time the groups met in person for a roundtable discussion. 

The national initiative is a cohort of 16 cities committed to using American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding or other public funding to build out their community violence intervention infrastructure. St. Paul is also part of the collaborative. 

"This is not the first era in which we have kind of invested in communities as a city. However, I believe it is the first time that we are truly building out the infrastructure in an intentional way," Mayor Frey said. 

OVP teams up with community organizers on the ground. The national initiative builds upon those efforts. 

"It grounds us in evidence-based practice and really looking at the best of what we know has been researched, proven to work, and being able to apply those things here locally," said Sasha Cotton, OVP director. 

CVIC has about $8 million total for the national program. Aqeela Sherrills, CVIC senior advisor, said it is not nearly enough.  

The collaborative will work closely with five organizations in Minneapolis: Restoration Incorporated, T.O.U.C.H Outreach, CANDO, Metro Youth Diversion Center and We Push for Peace. They will receive mini grants and will work with experts across the nation based on their needs. 

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Muhammad Abdul-Ahad, team lead with MinneapolUS and executive director of T.O.U.C.H Outreach, said he's looking forward to "Building out the infrastructure and the capacity to being more effective and doing this work on all different sides of Minneapolis." 

Abdul-Ahad attended the roundtable event on Thursday. It was held in the T.O.U.C.H Outreach office on Lake Street in south Minneapolis. 

"Soon as 3:30 hits, I open these doors up. I got a crowd of 30, 40 kids plus come from South High School. Just coming in here because they know it's a safe space," Abdul-Ahad said. 

The CVIC Delegation has completed an analysis of OVP and will be focused on supporting the five interrupter teams over the next six months with Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) plans. 

"This is about an eco-system. We used to think that public safety was a domain that was owned by law enforcement. You say public safety and people say police. But the reality is that law enforcement is one aspect of an ecosystem around public safety," Sherrills said. 

Mayor Frey has also met with other mayors from the 16 CVIC cohort cities. 

"Is it a 'be all, end all' solution? Of course it's not. Are we going to continue to see difficulties with crime and violence? I'm not going to lie to you, it's going to be tough. But when you've got the right partners at the table, you can start making strides towards success," Mayor Frey said. 

Cotton said residents can expect to see more organizations OVP partners with out in the community this summer. OVP also released its Budget Spending Report for 2021. 

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