Minneapolis loses out on $2.2 million in funding for CeaseFire
While the number of homicides in Minneapolis ticks steadily upward - 33 so far this year - the coffers of a fledgling anti-violence program will stay empty. The city has lost out on $2.2 million worth of Department of Justice funds, seemingly because community friction.
Earlier this year, Mayor R.T. Rybak applied for the grant to fund a new version of Project CeaseFire in Minneapolis.
The program, originally developed in Chicago, pays outreach workers to identify and counsel a small group of individuals in high-crime neighborhoods who are at risk of "being shot or being a shooter." At its most successful, the program boasts a 73 percent drop in shootings and killings within a targeted zone.
But a meeting with CeaseFire workers back in July went off the rails when local community activists called Rybak out for giving money to an outside program, rather than to locals who've been working on these issues for years. Spike Moss gave a particularly fiery condemnation of the plan, calling Rybak racist for the way he's handled it.
All that contention did not go unnoticed and Minneapolis learned late last week it would not get the grant. K.G. Wilson, founder and president of Hope Ministries, said the turmoil likely dissuaded CeaseFire from wanting to work with Minneapolis.
City officials and local groups say they'll press on with smaller pots of money.