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Minneapolis Violence Interrupters Sidelined, Ask For More Police Presence

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - People living in parts of Minneapolis hit hardest by the rise in shootings and carjackings are once again asking for more police presence to stop the violence.

The latest cries for help come after learning the new Minneapolis Violence Interrupters have been sidelined from their duties of stopping crime before it happens.

"You have gunshots every half hour or every hour, some of them ending up in a shooting some of them ending up with a death," said Don Samuels, former Minneapolis City Councilman.

He says his neighbors are held hostage by stray bullets that have invaded their lives.

"You can have one a half a mile in one direction and the next 10 minutes a half a mile in the other direction. This is at 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock in the morning. Interrupters are not going to be able to solve that," Samuels said.

Samuels says that Violence Interrupters are re-grouping, conducting more training and taking a break from the action is not surprising.

MORE: Minneapolis Temporarily Sidelines 'Violence Interrupters'; Group Now Seek Outreach Centers

"We knew that there was a level of criminality and violence that would actually put them in danger, "said Samuels.

So from his front porch in North Minneapolis, he asks city leaders to give this community what they need to feel safe in their homes.

"We're crying out for the presence of law enforcement, officials on the streets in patrols to become a deterrent to the worst of the violence which is what we're experiencing now," Samuels said.

Samuels say the violence must be dealt with first so the Interrupters can safely go into the community and work.

"We're not dealing with the everyday 'oh there are some kids who need to be put on the right path and they are hanging around not doing anything.' That has metastasized and we are now at a level where everybody is under threat, "Samuels said.

 He says families cannot wait for new efforts to stop the violence to take root, help from law enforcement is needed now.

"It's not an either or it's both, and we want the cops who come to treat people civilly but we want them to come," said Samuels.

The city of Minneapolis says the Mayor's proposed 2021 budget includes funds for the office of violence prevention to have a space in the community and those plans include the Interrupters.

A physical space is something community organizations feel they need in order to reach the young people involved in the violence.

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