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MANKATO — Minnesota had an increase in intimate partner homicides in 2020, according to an annual report released Friday.

Violence Free Minnesota’s homicide report remembered 30 victims who were killed in 2020. The previous year had 21, while the last year with more intimate partner homicides than 2020 was 2015.

Much more work is needed to solve intimate partner violence in Minnesota, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said during a press conference on the report Friday.

She called for more youth education on healthy relationships, more work on racial and socioeconomic inequities in housing and employment, and more racial and criminal justice reform. All these early prevention interventions will be required to solve the issue, she said, along with providing safety and healing for survivors.

“My heart is with everyone who has experienced the disappearance or loss of a loved one,” she said. “While this violence can happen to anyone, in any community, we know that it disproportionately impacts people and communities who are already experiencing crisis … There is so much more work we still need to do, but together we can get it done.”

Of the 30 victims in 2020, 21 of them were killed by either a current or former intimate partner. Of the 21, 20 identified as women. The remaining nine in the report were either family members or bystanders.

While none of the 2020 homicides occurred in south-central Minnesota, the region has had cases in previous years. Joyce Engelbrecht and Rachel Linder of St. James and Lori Moore of Beauford were killed in intimate partner homicides in 2018.

The 2020 victims include Keona S. Foote, 23, and Miyona Z. Miller, 2, on Sept. 10 in Rochester. Most of the other homicides occurred in the Twin Cities metro area.

So far, 2021 has had 21 homicides related to intimate partner violence.

Violence Free Minnesota has been releasing annual reports on intimate partner violence for more than three decades. The purpose has been the same over the years, stated Meggie Royer in a release.

“To illuminate a tremendous loss of life, to memorialize and center the names and lives of victims, and to push us all to take greater action to end relationship abuse in Minnesota, for ourselves and every subsequent generation,” she stated.

The report outlines recommendations for sectors including media organizations, the criminal-legal system, equity/racial justice, legislative policy, health care, and housing. Media organizations, for instance, should highlight and center the victim’s life in their coverage, and share information on resources for survivors.

On equity/racial justice, the nonprofit advocates for diverting funding for school resource officers to hire trauma support counselors. The counselors could implement support programs in schools.

Legislatively, the report calls for lawmakers to end the restriction preventing the Minnesota Department of Health from gathering and analyzing firearms data. Firearms are the most frequent weapons used in intimate partner homicides, and an abuser’s access to firearms was found to be a significant risk factor for lethality.

“Focus research on perpetrators’ access to firearms, specifically how perpetrators who did not qualify for a firearms license due to a history of domestic violence were able to access firearms,” the report stated.

The report’s timing came on the first day of domestic violence awareness month. The Committee Against Domestic Abuse, or CADA, organizes initiatives during October in Mankato to remember the lives lost to domestic violence, from a memorial walk to distributing purple awareness ribbons at local businesses.

CADA also has a 24-hour helpline for people in need of help. If someone is experiencing relationships abuse or sexual violence, or knows of someone who is, the nonprofit encourages them to call 1-800-477-0466.

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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