Cedar-Riverside sees drop in assaults, break-ins

Crime dropped in MinneapolisâÄô 1st Precinct last year with a third fewer burglaries and 30 percent fewer sexual assaults and robberies since 2007. The precinct, which includes the Cedar-Riverside area that endured high-profile crimes in 2008, also saw a 13 percent drop in assault during 2008 compared to 2007, 1st Precinct neighborhood crime statistics show. Even with the trend, community organizations, residents and police continued to step up the effort to improve public safety and community relations in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood discussion Tuesday night at Augsburg College . The quarterly safety meeting was an opportunity for Minneapolis police in the 1st Precinct to display the crime updates and to answer questions from the residents. Even with the drop in crime, the Minneapolis Police Department is continually working to improve the safety of the neighborhood. One of the measures police have taken is to tighten security in the area by assigning two officers each night in the Cedar-Riverside area. The police force is also nearly twice the size it was in 2004 in the 1st Precinct, Lt. Kathy Waite , precinct sector lieutenant, said. The city also developed youth violence plans. The 1st Precinct received a $200,000 grant to hire a coordinator who helps with gang prevention efforts. More than a third of the money âÄî$75,000 âÄî will specifically be spent on Somali gang prevention efforts. Since Cedar-Riverside became home to a large East African immigrant community, many link the crimes to Riverside Plaza residents âÄî home to between 2,500 and 3,500 people âÄî many of whom are Somali. Gang violence, which is partially a result of truancy, is a specific concern in the area, especially for young people. âÄúOne factor that contributes to the violence,âÄù Omar Jamal, director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center , said âÄúis the increase of gang-membership that caused high rate of high school dropouts.âÄù

2008 crime

Last year, the neighborhood suffered three murders, all within six months of each other. Only one person has been charged in connection with any of the three killings. In April, 18-year-old Abdullahi Abdi was gunned down in the busy heart of Cedar-Riverside. No one has been charged with the crime âÄî almost a year after his murder. A month later, 20-year-old Joseph Sodd IIIâÄôs fatal stabbing marked the second Cedar-Riverside homicide. Sodd was also a victim of robbery in the neighborhood. The police have yet made no arrest in the SoddâÄôs case. In September, Augsburg student Ahmednur Ali was shot and killed on his way home after volunteering at the Brian Coyle Community Center. Police took Ramadan Abdi Shiekh Osman , 16, to custody on Sept. 26 and charged him with second-degree murder.

Cedar-Riverside and the U

Still, Ben Marcy, president of West Bank Community Coalition called the perception of crime in the area false. He said a number of those arrested for crimes come from outside of the neighborhood. Aside from the three homicides, Marcy said the neighborhood maintained a significant decrease in other crimes. These violent episodes made the reputation of Cedar-Riverside quell. The mention of the neighborhoodâÄôs crime incidents is now enough to get the rise out of some residents and students. Dominated by the University of MinnesotaâÄôs West Bank campus, the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is home to about 8,000 residents and many different immigrant communities. Though the neighborhood is fairly rough compared to its surrounding area, University art senior Joe Moore is quick to talk about how friendly the people in the neighborhood are. Moore said he likes the area for its diverse businesses since his hometown of Stillwater is less eclectic. Still, sociology sophomore Sonja Norgaard wouldnâÄôt walk around the neighborhood, especially at night, after hearing about the shooting, she said. âÄúItâÄôs not that I fear the people who live there,âÄù she said, âÄúitâÄôs just that I donâÄôt know them enough and there is no reason to learn about them. Instead I choose to avoid.âÄù Zach Combs , who grew up in the neighborhood, said he lives near where SoddâÄôs murder happened. âÄúItâÄôs intense,âÄù Combs said, âÄúbut it doesnâÄôt scare me.âÄù