2022 IN REVIEW: Violent crime is a major problem for Winnipeggers this year

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Violent crime was a major problem for Winnipeggers in 2022.

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There were a record 51 homicides while robberies, sexual assaults and aggravated assaults were also on the rise. According to the latest Winnipeg police statistics released in August, violent crime is expected to have jumped about 23% from 2021, said criminologist Michael Weinrath of the University of Winnipeg.

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Most concerning were violent crimes that occurred in areas where citizens believed they would be safe, such as The Forks and the Millennium Library, Weinrath said.

There were several serious assaults at The Forks between late June and Canada Day: a father and daughter were robbed and assaulted on June 27; two men and a woman were assaulted on June 29; and a 15-year-old boy was allegedly part of a group that stabbed a Ukrainian newcomer and sprayed another bear on Canada Day.

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“Some of these crimes appear to have been random,” Weinrath said. “The assaults that we saw at The Forks, so guys like me will go on and say, ‘These things are going to happen.’ And then we have another and then another.

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“They were resolved pretty quickly, but this stuff shook people up.”

Due to the spike in violent incidents at The Forks, Winnipeg police have increased their presence at the popular tourist attraction. But at the same press conference in July where he announced the increased police presence, Chief Danny Smyth was criticized for appearing to play down the violence at The Forks, which had seen five assaults and one homicide in the first six months of 2022.

The surge in violent crime even became a campaign issue during the October municipal elections.

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Violent crime was by no means limited to The Forks.

There have been a number of violent incidents on Transit buses, in which the union representing the drivers has called for increased security measures.

The downtown Millennium Library was the scene of a fatal stabbing on December 11. Four young men have been charged in the death of 28-year-old Tyree Cayer, including a 14-year-old boy charged with second-degree murder.

“When you see 14-year-olds (involved in homicides), you’re like, ‘My God, what’s going on?

Weinrath said one positive thing about the surge in violent crime — if you can call it that — is in the resulting advocacy for vulnerable victims and murdered and missing Indigenous women and how the media has worked to speak to the family members and tell the stories of the victims.

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“We criminologists always complain about how (the media) sensationalizes violence and misinterprets people about how much crime (there is),” Weinrath said. “But the media has tried to humanize the victims.

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“The reporters go out and make a real effort to talk to parents and families and make a real effort to talk about this person and how they grew up and really make an effort to humanize these vulnerable victims who often come from very tough and having a pretty tough time.

That was never more evident this year than in the four women killed by an accused serial killer: Rebecca Contois, 24, of Crane River First Nation, Morgan Harris, 39, and Marcedes Myran, 26, both Long Plain First Nation and a fourth unidentified victim named by elders and police as Buffalo Woman – Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe. Family members advocated and organized blockades, calling for a search of local dumps for the remains of Harris and Myran and other missing and murdered women. They tried to stay focused on the victims and not the alleged killer.

“You had a lot of advocates standing up for female victims,” ​​Weinrath said.

“Whether it’s random or they’re targeted specifically, they die and that’s a terrible thing.”

[email protected]

Twitter: @SunGlenDawkins

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