COMMUNITY VOICES | Enough is enough! – Somali Community should stand together to stop violence against its youth


How long can we accept the killing of Somali youth and leaving them dead on the streets of the twin cities? How long can we keep our eyes closed and limit our involvement with it by sharing only the news to one another about these killings? What is wrong with the community? What do we need to correct?

It is in the news every week or at least every other week that another Somali youth is brutally killed and left dead on the streets of twin cities area.

“Retaliation” and fight between “rival gangs” are always used to describe the nature of Somali youth killings in the seven county metro area. There has been an indication that at least suspects are known or can be traced with the help of the community or some have information about them. Law enforcement always complains about the lack of cooperation from the Somali community including individuals not coming forward with information about the suspects. This critical information can lead to the arrest and prosecution of the suspects.

In the Somali culture, it is common that killings are solved through dialogue between the parties; the families of the suspect and the victim, mostly on a tribal or regional level adopt the mentality of paying or taking blood money or “Diyo” in the Somali language.  Sometimes using other venues to stop the spread of the violence in the community. Will that work in the west?  

My understanding of this concept and many other cultural concepts that were acceptable back home have no value in the west. The hiding or covering up of a crime, is itself is a crime.  Those who commit such acts should be fully aware of that. If you hide a suspect or assist them to escape prosecution, you may be liable for the crime and may be prosecuted accordingly.  It is possible that someone may be trying convincing the witnesses or those who have information not to come forward or assist the authority in prosecuting the suspects.  That is called witness tampering and according to the law is also a serious crime.  We need to know that no one is immune from those who are mercilessly killing our youth.

It is proven that this mentality is counterproductive and will not put an end to the violence and brutal killings in our youth.  Instead, it can lead to the killing of many more innocent youth one after another. It is possible that you are asking me for a solution.

The solution is crystal clear! There is no doubt that community support is a vital part of every successful investigation. The Somali community in greater Minnesota should work with the authority to find out and prosecute those who are behind the killings of the youth. We shouldn’t have sympathy for those who decide to break the rules and cut short the lives of innocent youth. When every one of us moved to this country, we made a promise to live peacefully and respectfully with others. Those who are not willing to live peacefully and respectfully in this society by abiding by its norms and rules, are not fit to be in this society. They have their space in prison.  

As a community we must stand together and not allow the harboring of criminals or those who have blood on their hands. 

Abdi G. Elmi, MA. is a court certified Somali Interpreter in the State of Minnesota and the nation. Mr. Elmi is also a speaker on diversity and cultures.  He can be reached at