Combating Gun Violence
As debates continue nationally around police accountability, gun control, public safety, and violence prevention strategies, many local leaders refuse to wait for policy change to take a stand against gun violence. Whether it’s organizing loved ones of victims of gun violence, removing individuals from environments with illegal firearms, or patrolling communities to prevent gun violence, Minneapolis-based groups are taking action to combat the growing presence of guns.
Since 2018, the Minneapolis Foundation has distributed more than $2.7 million through our Fund for Safe Communities to support tangible, specific, and meaningful actions to address and prevent violence. As part of our commitment, we support leaders and community groups that are closest to individuals and families impacted by gun violence, providing them with resources to lead efforts to recognize, heal from, and prevent future violence.
“Violence is up around the country,” said Chanda Smith Baker, Chief Impact Officer at the Minneapolis Foundation and a national thought leader on efforts to reimagine public safety. “We are convinced that without funding violence interrupters on the ground, we would be experiencing even higher levels of violence across our city. The Fund for Safe Communities takes a comprehensive approach. Our team works to advance systems change efforts across our city while also supporting immediate prevention strategies.”
Reimagining Public Safety at the Systems Level
Chanda Smith Baker is a member of Minneapolis’ Community Safety Work Group, which released a report in late June with recommendations for community safety, violence prevention, and police and public safety reform and accountability. At the systems level, the report calls on elected leaders to partner with public safety leaders in and outside Minneapolis to develop a coordinated framework that guides its approach to public safety, and to commit to that framework. The working group’s specific recommendations include:
- Expanding violence prevention programs and behavioral crisis response
- Developing first-in-class recruitment and training procedures to build a pipeline of police officer candidates who live in Minneapolis
- Strengthening discipline and accountability within the police department
- Increasing oversight by creating a leadership position that focuses on community safety functions across city departments
Earlier this month, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey nominated Dr. Cedric Alexander to become Minneapolis’ first Commissioner of Community Safety and lead a proposed Office of Community Safety. Dr Alexander is a clinical psychologist and author who has more than 40 years of law enforcement experience in Florida and the state of New York. He also served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. More details about the Community Safety Commissioner role are available in the job description and on the city’s website.
Local Gun Violence Prevention Efforts
Here are four organizations leading efforts to prevent gun violence in Minneapolis that have received support from either our Fund for Safe Communities or our partner, the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Violence Prevention:
- A Mother’s Love Initiative
- A Mother’s Love Initiative works to strengthen families academically, socially, emotionally, and financially. Along with outreach services in the communities most impacted by guns and domestic violence, its programming includes mentoring, listening circles, workshops, self-esteem building classes, and activities for families and youth ages 8-18. This initiative is well known for showing up at hot spots for crime and de-escalating conflict.
- Change Equals Opportunity (CEO)
- In addition to deterring violent encounters by staffing high schools and youth-based sporting events throughout the year, C.E.O. support at-risk young men with programming that exposes youth to career opportunities, athletic activities, and trainings to recognize and prevent youth, peer, community, sexual, and domestic violence.
- Change Starts with Community (CSWC)
- Change Starts with Community supports women and girls ages 13 to 45 who may have been victims of crime, witnessed it in their neighborhood, and/or are involved in criminal or gang activity. CSWC programming includes mentoring, camps, therapy, support groups, and trauma informed, culturally competent support services.
- Teaching Our Urban Communities Hope (TOUCH) Outreach
- T.O.U.C.H. Outreach consists of a team of violence interrupters who work to break the cycle of crime by patrolling at-risk areas along Lake Street and other sections of south Minneapolis. The group includes 30 men and women who are trained on de-escalation tactics, and who respond to situations involving assault, firearms, gangs, drug use, and other unsafe behavior.