A group of north Minneapolis residents have sent an open letter to Gov. Tim Walz, calling the area a “war zone” and are requesting the Minnesota State Patrol or National Guard to assist police.

Sent Wednesday, the letter from 26 residents says they have been left to “twist in the winds of violence” for over a year, with the violence including deaths of children due to gunfire. The group says the city as a whole has seen 69 “murders” this year so far, and things are getting worse with more incidents including automatic gunfire, CBS reports.

“During this same time period, the Mayor and City Council have failed to do anything to protect us and our children. They have shown that they are either unwilling or unable to save us. The Minneapolis Police Department is spread too thin to help. Right now, we are left to fend for ourselves. We are not ‘One Minnesota’ when our children are left to be slaughtered,” the letter said.

Walz responded to the letter late Wednesday afternoon, saying he shares their urgency to want to improve public safety, but that the state patrol and National Guard are not a substitute for a qualified, local police department.