One ‘Lawless’ Minnesota – St. Paul’s Mass Shooting a Result of Failed Action
By Sheriff Rich Stanek (Ret.), Foundation for Minnesota’s Future Board Member
How did two violent criminals, both convicted felons (one with an active warrant out for his arrest), become the most recent assailants in St. Paul’s mass shooting at Truck Park on West 7th Street in St. Paul? On whose watch do these violent criminals roam our streets, committing crimes without consequences? Why is the most obvious deterrent to this violence, police presence, not an option in our Minnesota cities? How many more innocent people must die in the crossfire before Governor Walz and his allies take this crisis seriously?
Let me be clear: these violent shooting incidents will continue until our elected leaders and judiciary support our police departments and take crime seriously. Minneapolis and St. Paul are reporting record high cases of homicide, domestic violence, assault, robberies, and carjackings. This crime is spreading to the suburbs and across the state.
Prior to October 10, Terry Lorenzo Brown had been convicted in Minnesota of robbery, drug possession, domestic abuse, violating orders for protection, and drunken driving. He was sentenced to five felonies between 2007 and 2019, yet only once had he actually been sent to prison. When he broke the conditions of his probation, over and over again, he was given more probation. Now he has been charged with one count of intentional second-degree murder in the killing of Marquisha Wiley and also charged with 11 counts of attempted second-degree murder.
According to the Pioneer Press (October 17, 2021), at age 16, Devondre Trevon Phillips had been charged and convicted with first-degree attempted aggravated robbery and adjudicated delinquent — the juvenile version of being found guilty. Other charges in the case were dismissed, including second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and possession of a gun by a person under 18.
Many are calling this another example of “gun violence,” and are calling for more gun laws as if the guns are the reason people are being senselessly killed. Both of these gunmen were ineligible to possess a gun and both were carrying illegally.
The real problem, the real epidemic in the Twin Cities, is criminal violence. The horrific shooting at Truck Park was not the result of “soft gun laws” in Minnesota, as Governor Walz would like you to believe. Years of blind neglect on the part of prosecutors, probation officers, and judges have contributed to lawlessness across our cities, where repeat violent criminals wreak havoc on our streets in blatant disregard of our laws because they know there will be no consequences.
Minnesota’s gun laws have not changed in recent years and cannot be the reason for the recent spike in gun-related crime.
Homicides have astronomically increased since the 2020 Summer riots. This wave in violence in no way correlates to any change in gun laws.
Governor Walz’s lack of response during the unrest last year allowed 1,500 businesses to be looted or destroyed. Local jurisdictions buckled at the pressure, forcing hundreds of dedicated law enforcement officers to leave as officials slashed police budgets by the millions while crime rates skyrocketed. Prosecutors and judges have refused to distinguish and protect first amendment speech from criminal activity and hold rioters and violent criminals accountable.
Our leaders’ continued failure to confront lawlessness has emboldened criminals and invites more danger and more recklessness, placing our families, neighborhoods, and communities at even more risk.
There are four very straightforward steps we can take to turn around this spike in violent crime. First, provide law enforcement the resources they need to properly patrol our communities and maintain a police presence as a deterrence to crime. If would-be criminals know there will be an arrest followed by criminal penalties, they will be less emboldened to engage in acts of violence in our streets. Police departments in the Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis and suburbs are struggling with severe staff and supervisor shortages; their requests for more officers have been denied by their current mayors and city councils.
Second, in 2022 elect only those officials who will support the public safety mission and who will stand up for and support law enforcement officers in our communities (city council, commissioners, Legislators, Attorney General and Governor). It is unconscionable that any elected leader would vote to decrease law enforcement resources when crime is increasing at historic rates. First responders are public servants and have earned our support and respect for their work; we know there are exceptions, but they are rare. We need police and law enforcement in our communities. If we don’t have personal safety in our homes and on our streets, we are not free.
Third, elect a Sheriff and County Attorney that will actually investigate and charge gun crimes. For far too long, the County Attorneys in our largest counties have refused to prosecute violations of our gun laws. Instead, they choose to protect the political soundbite and narrative that guns should be confiscated because guns are bad and citizens cannot be trusted.
Fourth, consider the appointment of judges when you vote for governor. We need a reliable judiciary and a judicial system that locks away those who repeatedly commit violent crimes in our communities. Our current judicial system, run by judges appointed by Governor Walz and former Governor Dayton, has become a revolving door for crime.
Those who misguidedly point to gun violence as the cause of the crisis exploding across the Twin Cities might as well be pulling the trigger. Lawlessness is governing our state – not our governor. His ‘One Minnesota’ has become one I do not recognize anymore.