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Minneapolis residents sue city and Mayor Jacob Frey for failing to protect and police its streets

Minneapolis is a city in crisis. Violent crime has ‘sky-rocketed,’ and its citizens have been thrown to the wolves by a mayor and a city council who have not only failed to protect them but have sent a clear message to criminals that ‘it’s open season’ on the city’s streets.

This is the stark reality as presented by Don and Sondra Samuels and this, they told DailyMail.com, is what has driven them and six neighbors to sue the City and Mayor Jacob Frey for failing to protect and police Minneapolis.

Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com the couple, who have lived in the city’s embattled northside for more than two decades, have described their shock at the council’s pledge to defund and ‘dismantle’ the Minneapolis Police Department.

They have recounted the violent crime and shootings that have bloomed in the vacuum left behind as police officers quit in their droves. And they have told how the city’s children are losing their lives because misguided liberals championed the disastrous notion of defunding police in the wake of George Floyd‘s death.

Former City Council member, Don Samuels (left) 72, and wife Sondra Samuels (right) 55, are suing the city of Minneapolis and Mayor Jacob Frey as gun violence and crime runs rampant on the streets 

The city of Minneapolis has been under siege and under policed since chaos erupted over George Floyd's death last May. One year later, police are once again trying to restore peace in the streets after protests broke out over the death of Winston Boogie Smith Jr

The city of Minneapolis has been under siege and under policed since chaos erupted over George Floyd’s death last May. One year later, police are once again trying to restore peace in the streets after protests broke out over the death of Winston Boogie Smith Jr 

The community has responded to police killings with a campaign to defund or even 'abolish' the police department - which has had dire consequences on the city

The community has responded to police killings with a campaign to defund or even ‘abolish’ the police department – which has had dire consequences on the city 

Former City Council member, Don, 72, explained how he and his wife watched the mayhem that followed Floyd’s death under the knee of Derek Chauvin last year with growing concern. 

‘We were pretty frightened and disturbed by the disrespect of the police and the institution of policing,’ he told DailyMail.com. 

‘We know there are problems for sure but when they burned down the Third Precinct, for us a new watermark had been reached and it was putting our safety at risk.’

Sondra, 55, president and CEO of Northside Achievement Zone, a collaborative of nearly 30 non-profits and schools, recalled: ‘After that, the violence just started to swell – gunshots all the time, so many stories of people getting shot. 

‘We need to reform policing and police, but we need an ‘and/both’ approach not an ‘either/or.’

‘So, we feel like we’re under siege and then we turn on CNN and we see nine of our 13 council people standing on a stage that has a big, “Defund” sign in front of it, taking a pledge to do away with police.’

There had been no consultation with constituents before the pledge was made and as the Samuels looked on in disbelief, they felt in their guts that what criminals heard was, ‘it’s open season.’

Don said: ‘We both looked at each other and the reason our jaws hit the floor was that we absolutely foresaw that community violence would become mayhem [and rise] to a level of outlandish proportions.’

The Samuels have lived in their expansive home for 24 years. It sits on a leafy street. A neighborhood library box stands out front. There is a children’s playground just down the road on the corner. But any sense of security is an illusion.

Don and Sondra say the city council's plans to defund the police sends criminals a message that it's 'open season' on Minneapolis' streets

Sondra Samuels, is the president and CEO of Northside Achievement Zone

Don and Sondra, the president and CEO of Northside Achievement Zone, say the city council’s plans to defund the police sends criminals a message that it’s ‘open season’ on Minneapolis’ streets 

The Samuels and six of their neighbors argue in their lawsuit that the mayor and the city have an obligation to provide a certain number of police officers per population capita, set down in the city charter

The Samuels and six of their neighbors argue in their lawsuit that the mayor and the city have an obligation to provide a certain number of police officers per population capita, set down in the city charter

The house where nine-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith was struck by a shoot-out’s stray bullet as she played with friends is a three-minute walk away on a street that abuts the Samuels’. 

The corner on which six-year-old Aniya Allen was shot dead in a similar fashion is just a few minutes further. A 19-year-old was shot just a couple of streets away the night before DailyMail.com’s visit and shots ring out in the surrounding streets at all hours.

The night before the Samuels sat down with DailyMail.com, they hosted a block club meeting – one of the first since pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Don recalled: ‘We’re sitting back there [on our deck] and we hear about 60 shots. 

‘They sounded like fireworks because they were erratic ’cause usually automatic gunfire is “pop, pop, pop, pop, pop.” 

‘These ones were very scattered and erratic because it was two or more guns going off at each other at the same time.’

The Samuels called the police who were already aware of the gunfire. By the time they arrived it could be heard traveling through the neighborhood, as the shooters were on the move.

Sondra tried to console the children who were there that night – an eight-year-old and a three-year-old. The older of the two was trembling and traumatized she said. 

The younger looked up at her and said: ‘Sondra. Gunshots!’ 

‘That just broke my heart that he knows gunshots,’ she said. 

But according to the Samuels they are an all too familiar sound. 

The Minneapolis Police Department should employ 743 officers based on the city's current population, however, there are currently only 643 since many cops have quit, retired, or have gone on disability since the start of 2020

The Minneapolis Police Department should employ 743 officers based on the city’s current population, however, there are currently only 643 since many cops have quit, retired, or have gone on disability since the start of 2020 

Sondra’s offices have been shot up twice in recent weeks – the boarding put up over the shot-out windows is now peppered with bullet holes itself.

One of the teachers with whom she works narrowly avoided getting shot by a stray bullet in the parking lot of her school, while teachers and children were inside.

MINNEAPOLIS UNDER SIEGE: How violent crime has sky-rocketed in the city since the death of George Floyd

  • As of last week, there have been 36 homicides in Minneapolis so far this year – more than double the number at this point last year and more than four times that seen in 2019.
  • Car-jackings are up a staggering 222 per cent. 
  • Shootings have risen 153 per cent and 80 per cent of the victims are black.   
  • At time of writing, 211 people had suffered gunshots wounds so far this year. This time last year that figure was 81. 
  • Gun theft from vehicles is up more than 100 per cent while the police department has seized 100 fewer guns this year than they had at the same point in 2020.
  • Meanwhile, Minneapolis Police Department has lost one third of its force. 
  • Disenfranchised and de-humanized, more than 200 police officers have either permanently left the already stretched department or signed off on disability.

A 13-year-old girl was shot in the back, again by a stray bullet.

And where are the police and where is the outcry? The Samuels ask.

Sondra said: ‘If you are a black mother and your son is going to get murdered and you have a choice of a police officer killing your child or somebody from the community, you better choose a police officer because then people will march and rally. 

‘They’ll say his name, he’ll be on T-shirts, they’ll demand justice. Nobody’s demanded justice for Trinity [Ottoson-Smith] for LaDavionne [Garrett Jr] for Aniya [Allen]. It’s just not happening.

‘Then what’s the difference, right? Two mothers are losing their children. The difference is that a white police officer in a minority of cases kills the person versus the majority of the cases where it’s community.’

In the face of this stark truth, Sondra described the move to defund the police as ‘a lack of wisdom.’

‘I’m angry about the police in terms of the George Floyds and Breonna Taylors of this world. It has to stop. We have to have transformation,’ Sondra said. 

‘But what about the harm that is coming to the black community [from community violence] in terms of businesses that are hurting? They are begging police to come open up George Floyd Square [where Floyd was murdered] so that they don’t lose their livelihoods. 

‘These are people who don’t come from a whole bunch of money but scraped it together, the American way and now it’s being threatened. They may lose their livelihoods and then of course we have children who are absolutely losing their lives.’

According to the lawsuit, the mayor and the city have an obligation to provide a certain number of police officers per population capita, set down in the city charter.

By that calculation, Don said, MPD should employ 743 officers. At the beginning of 2020 Chief Medaria Arradondo had 825 officers in his force.

Uptown Minneapolis has been taken over by protestors and looters for the last three days

Uptown Minneapolis has been taken over by protestors and looters for the last three days

Sondra has described the move to defund the police as 'a lack of wisdom,' saying the city needs both police reform and law enforcement to protect its citizens

Sondra has described the move to defund the police as ‘a lack of wisdom,’ saying the city needs both police reform and law enforcement to protect its citizens 

One year after the death of George Floyd saw this city become ground zero for the defund the police movement, its people are paying for it in their blood

One year after the death of George Floyd saw this city become ground zero for the defund the police movement, its people are paying for it in their blood

But in the first seven months of 2020 at least 80 officers retired or quit – a dramatic increase from the annual average of 45. And that trend has only grown.

According to their lawsuit: ‘The exodus continues unabated.’

In his 2021 Budget address, Mayor Frey said that he expected 100 officers to retire from the force by the end of the year and stated his intention to include those eliminated positions in a hiring freeze.

Police training academies have been cancelled meaning that the 2020 class that Chief Arradondo had proudly proclaimed was the most diverse cadet intake ever has been scrapped and as officers left the force in the wake of Floyd’s death they were not replaced.

By the end of July 2020 more than 200 officers had applied for disability – about 20 per cent of the entire force. 

On July 17 a total of 111 officers were on some sort of medical leave including 40 PTSD claims filed since May 26, the day after Floyd’s death.

The motion to defund the police has not yet been passed and is likely to be on the ballot in November but, according to the Samuel’s lawsuit, it has already begun by stealth.

Last July the City Council diverted $1.5million from the MPD to an Office of Violence Prevention. 

In addition, the $193million police budget for 2020 will be cut by $10million as the pandemic has impacted on all the city’s funds.

The suit concludes: ‘With a hiring freeze, no training programs, and an encouragement of officers to leave the Minneapolis police force, the City Council is accomplishing its stated goal of a quick (but illegal) dismantling of the Minneapolis Police Force.’

A harrowing photo shared by the family of six-year-old Aniya Allen lays bare the heartbreaking reality of Minneapolis's surging gun violence and understaffed police force. The young girl's grandfather, Kay G Wilson, is seen weeping over her casket on Tuesday, two weeks after she was shot in the head

A harrowing photo shared by the family of six-year-old Aniya Allen lays bare the heartbreaking reality of Minneapolis’s surging gun violence and understaffed police force. The young girl’s grandfather, Kay G Wilson, is seen weeping over her casket on Tuesday, two weeks after she was shot in the head 

Right now, the number of officers employed by the MPD is just 643 and, with many of them out on disability, the already strapped force is down close to a third of its officers on the streets.

Meanwhile, the Samuels’ lawsuit notes: ‘While the City Council claims that a sufficient number of armed police are not required for public safety, when it comes to their own safety, the City Council has protected themselves with armed guards at the citizens’ expense. 

‘Media reports indicate that the city has paid $152,400 for armed protective agents for three City Council members.’

According to Don and Sondra, the notion of defunding the police has proved disastrous and was wrongheaded from the start.

Sondra explained: ‘Huge crowds want to have a simple solution. So, police hurt people. Let’s get rid of police.

‘Wisdom would say: “If I make this decision and I take this action what’s the collateral damage? What else gets impacted? And does that outweigh the benefit of this decision?”

‘That’s what wisdom does. Unfortunately, we have leaders who lack wisdom quite frankly.

‘You have to really start unpacking and getting at real issues [to come up with real solutions]. But that’s not what they want to do.’

Pictured the back of the home where Trinity was shot and a bullet hole through a window

The nine-year-old girl was caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out as gun-toting thugs drove along the alleyway behind her friend's house in this pretty neighborhood. She died in hospital last Thursday

Nine-year-old Trinity was caught in the crossfire of a shoot-out as gun-toting thugs drove along the alleyway behind her friend’s house in this pretty neighborhood. She died in hospital less than two weeks later

Balloons idle above the trampoline where Trinity Ottoson-Smith was playing on May 15 when she was struck by a stray bullet

Balloons idle above the trampoline where Trinity Ottoson-Smith was playing on May 15 when she was struck by a stray bullet

The Samuels’ lawsuit is not, they say, a publicity stunt. It is a genuine desire to force the change that they believe is vital for their community and their city.

The suit is already moving forward and will be before a judge in a few weeks. 

‘Success would be that the judge comes back and says [to the City] you are violating your charter and so you need to get enough police officers with full speed,’ Sondra said.

‘That is success. And then we get behind Chief Arradondo and we support his reform efforts, and we support his efforts to have a diverse talent pool and we support his new oath of office which is beautiful. And we do it by any means necessary. 

‘We recruit more officers. We get them in here. Even if we have to have some on a temporary basis while we’re building. That becomes what we do because we’re protecting our children and our elderly and our most vulnerable and all of our citizens.’

The Samuels believe that a strong force is peopled by officers who live in the communities rather than those who live elsewhere and clock in and clock out at the end of their shifts.

And they believe that, however dire the situation seems right now, there is hope for positive change.

Local resident Monique arrived at a Peace Walk on Sunday with a fist-full of fliers, showing Trinity, Aniya and LaDavionne's pictures and giving information about the $35,000 reward offered for any information that leads to the shooters' arrests

Local resident Monique arrived at a Peace Walk on Sunday with a fist-full of fliers, showing Trinity, Aniya and LaDavionne’s pictures and giving information about the $35,000 reward offered for any information that leads to the shooters’ arrests

Last week more than 300 people turned up to walk between the N. Penn Ave - the site of Aniya's fatal shooting - and northern Memorial Hospital, where LaDavionne is in a medically induced coma

Last week more than 300 people turned up to walk between the N. Penn Ave – the site of Aniya’s fatal shooting – and northern Memorial Hospital, where LaDavionne is in a medically induced coma

Don said: ‘The cops are in pain because they’re losing respect. We are in pain because our people are getting killed.

‘The council members, the defunders are in pain because we’re coming at them. And so, everybody’s in a place of pain.

‘But there’s a unique opportunity [in that]. It’s an opening – openings for change are always crises.’

Sondra agreed: ‘I’m extremely hopeful. We need each other. We need to evolve.

‘There was one time when we thought slavery was okay, right? We evolved from that. 

‘There was one time when we thought women could be property and not vote. We evolved from that. 

‘There was one time we though gay people, their love wasn’t as valuable. We evolved from that.

‘So, we’re constantly doing this evolving and we’re at that place again. Pain has to have communal solutions.’

And, as far as the Samuels and many like them are concerned, Minneapolis has to have police. 


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