MINNEAPOLIS—On a street corner in south Minneapolis, where heroin addicts gathered in the shadow of an abandoned building, Tyrone Allen, a 48-year-old former gang member, dashed across a busy street and ordered 10 tacos from a stand. He handed the bag to one of the addicts to distribute.
“That’s my thing is feeding people,” said Mr. Allen, a worker with the Agape Movement, a local anti-violence group. “If I can help somebody in some way, shape or form, I’m good with that.”
Mr. Allen’s efforts are a growing piece of the city’s evolving vision for public safety since the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. While some Minneapolis City Council members advocate replacing the police entirely, the council late last year shifted about $8 million from the mayor’s $179 million police budget to other services, such as violence prevention and mental health.
This fall, voters will weigh in on a referendum to replace the police department with a new department of public safety, which would put public health above law enforcement as a solution to gun violence. A similar measure didn’t make it onto the ballot last year.
Violent crime in Minneapolis has surged, with homicides investigated by the Minneapolis police reaching 82 in 2020, compared with 41 in 2019, according to state data.