While Metro Transit Police Chief Dave Indrehus was hiding his head in the sand a couple of months ago, claiming that the public buses are absolutely safe to travel, others were doing something about the reality that some lines on Minneapolis’ and St. Paul’s urban transit system are rolling danger zones.
Opinion: MAD DAD volunteers increase safety on public bus
Since 2004 Minneapolis MAD DADS, the African American Men Project and ironically enough, Metro Transit, have constituted a partnership, The Peace Bus Collaborative, deliberately for the express purpose of increasing safe ridership on buses. The operations joined forces and developed a four-point plan of communication and community action to do something about rampant violence. Highlights of the plan: regularly scheduled bus rides by volunteers (you’ve seen those strapping brothers in the green t-shirts), street outreach, presentations at schools and partnerships with community churches.
They’ve outlined in a brochure (free of charge; the contact info. is listed below) steps that bus riders can take without putting themselves at greater risk of harm. It goes like this and is based on common sense: When waiting for your bus, do so in areas that are well lit. At a stop that doesn’t have a bus shelter, go stand under a street lamp or if possible, near a business that has a well-lit front window. On buses, don’t be a part of the problem. Respect others by minding your own business; i.e., do not egg the mouthy drunk on, do not get in staring contests with people you don’t know and keep any smart remarks you might have about someone to yourself. Stay out of arguments. If someone is giving you a hard time or you see them giving somebody else a hard time, go tell the driver. It is not the time to stand up for your rights or play crusader: the driver can call for a cop who will do a much better job of confronting troublemakers than you will. And, of course, you have the option of calling 911 yourself, if you have a cell phone.
Back to those who started and sustain The Peace Bus Collaborative. You have to give it — with a great deal of gratitude — to the men who put themselves on the line to ride the buses and be there in case some knucklehead or gang decides to act out. Those green shirts are not police uniforms and the fellas wearing them are not carrying firearms. So if some thug decides to pull out a pistol, it’s going to be a very tough situation. These men know this. Yet they get on the buses anyway, because they are committed to the safety of you, me and our children.
It’s too bad that the media-and-politicians red carpet has never been rolled out for this program like it was for Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels. Especially since Sliwa and company split town as soon as the Block E hoopla in Minneapolis died down; yet you can, to this day, see members of MADDAD, quietly and with no interest in fanfare, demonstrating a genuine interest in the wellbeing of our communities.
Feel absolutely free to express your appreciation, request further information and find out how you can give your support by contacting: V. J. Smith c/o MAD DADS, 3041 4th Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN 55408, (612) 822-0802; Shane Price c/o African American Men Project, 1313 Penn Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411, (612) 302-4690; Metro Transit, Fred T. Haywood Office Building and Garage, 560 Sixth Ave. North, Minneapolis, MN 55411-4398, (612) 373-3333.