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Mike Max, the longtime Minnesota sports anchor and reporter who won praise for his on-the-ground coverage of the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, called Minneapolis a "hellhole" that "sucks the life out of you." 

"It seems like we've become a garbage dump where the only national headlines are those that make us look worse," said Max. "We played two national games on national TV. One's the Winter Classic and it's 6 below and the other one's a soccer game against Honduras and nobody understands why it's here. And you say, 'that's about the only publicity we've had for this city over the last several months, either a shooting or that.' And you're right."

Max referenced police stopping a person from jumping from the top of the Hilton Hotel last week only to have a Minneapolis SWAT officer fatally shoot 22-year-old Amir Locke while executing a no-knock search warrant two days later.

Max asked listeners of his "Sports to the Max" radio show what draws them to downtown Minneapolis, then explained how he feels. 

"I was thinking about, as I walked on Nicollet Mall and you get in that wind tunnel and it's cold and it's dark and you're not quite sure who or what is around that next corner, and I thought to myself, 'This sucks. This city sucks.' And it sucks the life out of you if you work downtown. And you don't see many people downtown. And you do see and hear of events that are awful downtown." 

Max also criticized the citywide vaccination or proof of negative test mandate to dine indoors at restaurants, saying that even if someone agrees with the requirement he can't see "why you'd want to come downtown and do anything because it's just so much more cumbersome."

"I'm at a loss for words on this now. This is a hellhole. It doesn't feel like a safe place," Max said. "I don't even think we've bottomed out yet. I don't. I think there's still room for it to get worse." 

Max also took some frustration out on parking meters, saying whoever designed the downtown meters must be "dumber than a box of rocks." 

According to the Minneapolis crime dashboard, downtown Minneapolis has seen a comparatively smaller amount of crimes compared to other areas of the city so far in 2022.

Here's where the downtown area (Police precinct 1) ranks in terms of major violent or property crimes out of the five areas covered by Minneapolis Police Department.

  • Homicide – Tied 2nd (1 homicide reported downtown in 2022)
  • Rape – 5th
  • Robbery – 3rd
  • Aggravated assault – 5th
  • Domestic aggravated assault – 5th
  • Burglary – 5th
  • Theft from motor vehicle – 4th
  • Auto theft – 5th
  • Arson – Tied 3rd

Minneapolis isn't alone in reporting a rise in crime. It has become a feature of the majority of major American cities since the start of the pandemic, as CBS News reports. In Minnesota, the likes of St. Paul and St. Cloud have also reported spikes in violent crime.

There has been a drop in the downtown workforce since the onset of COVID-19, with the likes of Target cutting its downtown office space while Wells Fargo, the third largest downtown employer, delayed its return to its offices because of the pandemic and the wider shift to work-from-home.

Vineeta Sawker, who hosts WCCO Radio's morning show, challenged Max about his comments, asking him how calling downtown a hellhole helps the people trying to make things better. 

"I'll tell you exactly how I'm helping. I don't want people to think it's safe to come down and be by themselves on a Saturday night," Max said. "I don't want people to experience some of the stuff that I've experienced over the last few years." 

"There's nothing you can get downtown that you can't get somewhere else in a safer environment," he added. 

The City of Minneapolis has not announced when the indoor dining requirements will end, though Mayor Jacob Frey said during a January news conference that it would be in place until the omicron-fueled COVID-19 surge peaked.

It's being reported on Tuesday that St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter is considering ending his city's dining vaccination mandate, potentially as soon as the end of this week. If St. Paul were to do this, Minneapolis would likely follow.

It's evident at this point that the omicron surge peaked in January and is now rapidly declining across the entire state. 

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