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4.14.07--Public Documents

Shortly after class on Wednesday the 11th, Keith Hovis and I went down to the Minneapolis City Hall building on 5th Street, near a light rail stop that I've neglected to notice time and time again through countless trips, to look for crime reports and statistics involving trends in Uptown crime. This building has always struck me as intimidating. The bus that comes from Burnsville and takes me to the U drives past here everyday, and although I have always assumed I'd never had a reason to go in, part of me always wanted to explore anyway. The grandiose building with its gothic-like architecture looked uninviting, but my curiosity never died. Upon entering, it was cold and blank. It seemed like just another university building that had recently been renovated and actually reminded me of Nicholson Hall, which made me shudder at the thought of sitting through another restless session of a Greek and Roman mythology lecture.

We were directed to room 31 where they keep criminal records. Two Somali men who were singing followed us into the room. The counter here reminded me of something you'd see when you look through the window of a Checks Cashed like the one on Lake Street in Uptown--with steel black bars defining the barrier between you and anything you wish to obtain. The woman working the desk was salty, to say the least. When we asked her if she had access to any crime statistics for the Uptown area, she looked at us like we were speaking a whole different language, so we asked her again. Though she did not have the records on hand, she did provide us with a phone number to call, which we later found out would direct us to a website. From there, she insisted that she cannot get any information out of the computer for us, and suggested that we use "the book", at which point she gestured us to this massive binder filled with hundreds of three-hole punched documents that sat next to a computer.

Here, we were supposed to look everything up ourselves. Keith took charge of shifting through the book for the most interesting crimes that took place on Lyndale Avenue, Lake Street, and West Hennepin. I manned the computer station and poked fun at the terrible graphics and the horribly photoshopped police car that graced the main page. We entered case numbers into the computer left and right, and would only settle for the best. Car theft? Not good enough...unless it involved two street hookers stealing the car of the Floridian man with whom they just did their deed, then it'd be good, and sure enough, that's exactly what I found. Even the most simple police stops became greatly hilarious and more serious than the officers had possibly planned. Police stopped and approached one man with the intent of nabbing him for loitering, but as they got nearer, the man hastily tried to swallow what the report described as "a white substance" but unfortunately [or fortunately, however you want to see it] was unable to do so. So instead, a loitering charge quickly shifted to an arrest for soliciting a controlled substance.

Keith ended up stumbling upon a case involving an old acquaintance, oddly enough. Neither of us thought about looking for specific cases until then, when Keith joked about looking up his own case number from when he got hit by a truck to see what stupid things they had to say about it.

We printed out the reports, and I unhappily paid for the several pieces of paper. I'm a bit cheap, and dislike paying little fees for school assignments, but I dished it out regardless. I paid for Keith's too, since he took care of parking, so we came out even. We laughed at the idea of asking Dan Bernard to reimburse us for our hard work, and we had the receipt and all the paper to show that we paid a grueling $1.75 for schoolwork.