First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of the recent violence, and to their families and loved ones. I can’t imagine what they must be going through. At a neighborhood meeting last night, residents spoke about how the spate of violence has rocked our community. People don’t feel safe in some of the most basic situations. When neighbors see kids out on bikes, they are scared – either for the kids or worried one of them might have a gun. Seeing our youth outside on bikes should be something we look forward to instead of something that causes fear.
There are other posts I plan on writing here on North by Northside, but it seems out of place to go about those posts without at least acknowledging the series of shootings this week. A few thoughts…
There’s something that strikes at the core of a community when our children are subject to these atrocities. I’ll do whatever I can to help address this issue, including working closely with neighbors and police/city partners around the escalating problems Hawthorne has seen along 4th St N. I’ll blog about these things when appropriate, both to share information and give people a forum where discussions can happen. What I won’t do, however, is put out a story or a post if I have nothing unique or significant to offer.
I also reject the false choice I have seen others put forth when criticizing our elected officials for promoting amenities in our neighborhood instead of addressing issues like violent crime or tornado relief. That’s not to remove accountability from anyone; rather, I acknowledge that our mayor and council can work on more than one issue at a time. We can certainly view their actions through the prism of wondering how something might affect youth violence, but let’s realize that we can work on multiple issues. In fact, adding amenities like rain gardens or boulevard plantings often results in youth employment in north Minneapolis.
Let’s keep in mind that violent crime is down in north Minneapolis from last year, and that’s part of a years-long downward trend. Those trends are of no comfort to people directly affected, of course. And in no way should the reassurance of a downward trend be mistaken for accepting current levels of gun and youth violence. But these shootings do not define our community. They are hopefully an aberration that we as a community can work past.
Finally, I am reminded of the words of Tariq Jahan, a father who lost his son in the riots in Britain, who pleaded with his community, “Why are we doing this? I lost my son. Step forward if you want to lose your son. Otherwise, calm down.”
(Video from EvenToddlers51 on Youtube)
More video at North by Northside.