Is it ‘safe’ downtown?

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote about neighborhood activists who have to walk a fine line between acknowledging real problems in order to solve them, and driving away the people who can help solve them.

Let’s turn to our downtowns, specifically, Minneapolis.

Is it “safe”?

In recent years, this has been pitted as a suburbanite vs. city resident discussion but a letter in today’s Star Tribune is written by a Minneapolis resident who says she felt safe downtown until a recent incident.

Some friends and I walked to dinner in the nearby Warehouse District. It was daylight, following a Twins game. There were a lot of pedestrians around. A fight started brewing on the opposite corner where a patron had been thrown out of a bar. He returned multiple times to try to re-enter.

The pushing and swearing went on for half an hour. It got the attention of all of us who were trying to enjoy a meal outside on a beautiful evening. Police arrived, talked to the young men involved and left. The men scattered, only to return and plant themselves directly across the street from us.

One of them had seen us point them out to the police, so he was yelling at us. Needless to say, we finished our meal quickly and took a cab home. We did what we could to let the right people know, but the response was underwhelming. Neither establishment called the police at the time, though we did request it. We were told by the restaurant owner that the young men eventually were arrested.

Sandra Skovlund said, “if we want families and tourists to come downtown, this kind of behavior can’t be tolerated. I have disagreed when I’ve gotten comments about safety downtown — until I had this experience.”