Tipping Point

Jen at Redhead Ranting, by way of a visit to her her family’s area in a local cemetary, notes a reminder of a crime that had a disproportionate impact on law and order in the Twin Cities a generation ago:

Not far from my grandparents are the markers of the graves of the 5 Coppage children who died in a fire ordered by a rival gang member of their older brother in 1994.

The deaths were horrible. Few in the community were left untouched by the 1994 tragedy. The cops, as they always do with brutal crimes involving children, took it personally and declared war on the gang, building a federal drug case that led to the convictions of about 22 gang members in 1998. (full article)

This happened at about the apex of of the “Murderapolis” years, and I think it’s fair to say it marked a tipping point in law enforcement in Minnesota. People demanded that government do its one unambiguously legitimate job – preserve order, the job that makes living in close conjunction with other people, and the commerce, society and community that result, possible.

What followed was a period of relative (!) order and tranquility – or so it seems in retrospect. Minnesota became, up until this past spring, the safest state in the union that had a major metropolitan area; the Twin Cities, especially Saint Paul, were for all their faults quite a safe metro area.

The stats are up this year – but perceptions about crime aren’t about stats, especially when “rational critical thought” is near the bottom of the priority list.

But eventually, people will demand order. They’ll either get it from government, or they’ll get it themselves (that’s the romantic notion a lot of people have – and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was occasionally one of them) or they’ll get it from whatever “strongman”, be it a street gang or a mob racket or a “vigilante militia” that offers enough of it in exchange for what they take to make it worth it, or worth it enough.

Here’s hoping sane heads prevail.

3 thoughts on “Tipping Point

  1. Thanks for the shoutout Mitch. What struck me most about the impact the Coppage children’s death had on the community was how the cops made it their priority to get justice for these 5 young children. The cops eventually arrested 22 gang members involved with this horrific crime. No doubt helping to rid the cities of a fair amount of crime. The cops were the good guys back then, they were doing their job to get justice for the children who lost their lives so tragically and so unnecessarily. It wasn’t about race, it was about justice for these babies.

  2. I remember the Coppage case well. It was horrible. And it was a big deal when the police got all those gang members off the street. I have my doubts such an effort could be duplicated today.

  3. Mr D
    Sayles-Belton was mayor then and one of the reasons she moved from her home on Elliot Ave to the River Road area was that same gang was periodically shooting up the street in front of her home a couple times so she was “motivated” to deal with them. Because she beat John Derus (the mob linked DFL candidate) in 1994 the DFL Brahmins at the first opportunity threw her under the bus for RT Rybek or she would still be Mayor

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