The sights and sounds of North Minneapolis
This past Wed, a teenage boy was murdered on the corner 1 block from where we live. It was 6 in the afternoon, still daylight, and I noticed police lights down the street as I came home. I didn’t think much of it at the time, as this is not an irregular occurrence.
He died on the Baptist church doorstep. They were having their regular Wednesday night programming called Loaves and Fishes; a free food program for the neighborhood. Apparently, he got in an argument at the bus stop outside their door, and it escalated and ended quickly with about 6 gun shots.
The following day is our regular Thursday outreach. We stopped by the church to pray and talk with neighbors, but no one was around and the doors were locked. There was no evidence that someone died here the day before. The blood from the sidewalk was all washed away. We prayed for spiritual cleansing of the area and ask for God’s peace to fall.
It was a beautiful Fall day, the leaves were changing color and the air was crisp. Many neighbors were out because of MEA weekend and the kids were out of school. Somewhere in the course of our walking (I can’t remember when exactly) we hear more bangs ring out. I honestly didn’t think much of it at the time…it was only 2 in the afternoon; too early for violence like gun fire.
As we approach the park, we hear sirens, an ambulance, and eventually run in to police lights and tape. They have the whole block marked off around my friends apartment.
[I met this friend when he was working security at the local grocery store. It’s called a grocery store because they technically sell food, but it’s mostly second hand expired stuff that the normal chains couldn’t sell. People still come from all over to this place though because of it’s cheap meat. Last fall, a mom was shot in the store’s parking lot so we responded by praying with the employees and owner and doing an outreach from their parking lot to the neighborhood. Now here we are, almost exactly a year later at his apartment 6 blocks over with more police tape and another body in the hospital.]
Back to the Story
Across the street is a beautiful park with a speculator view of the city. Today, not many neighbors are out and those who are have their cell phones recording the scene. Cops are putting teenagers into separate vehicles. They’s a small white car with a window shot out. There’s a group sequestered with more tape and police around them next to the building. No one can get in or out, but this group of 6 adults and 1 in a baby seat and being kept extra close to the building. Another teenage boy was shot. Blood spilled on the baby in the back seat. No news of motive or extent of injuries.
We walk a block around the tape to the back side of the complex, and encounter local news networks covering the scene. The step mom is hysterical and frantically looking for a ride to the hospital. A few feet away, a group of 6-8 young men in their early 20’s are laughing and joking around. A few feet the other direction, there’s tape and police. They re-route traffic the next block over, so everyone who comes by slows to a halt and asks what is happening.
“Another boy was shot”, was our reply.
I stay to talk and pray with my friend and make sure he can get in through the tape to check on his wife.
On my way home, I pass the Baptist church where the other teen was murdered they day before. Across the street, there is another large church with a fence and a community garden. A dozen volunteers and harvesting their vegetables. On this corner, several teens are laying flowers and balloons to remember the dead. On the other corner, volunteers are practicing community behind a tall fence.
That evening we do our regular Bible study and meal with neighborhood kids. There’s no talk of the violence earlier in the day. It all happened 2 blocks and 5 blocks away. It’s a different world on every block, and yesterday’s and today’s violence didn’t interfere with our worlds.
This is the world we are living in. My heart longs for the Gospel to penetrate these worlds. It’s our continued prayer and mission that each life would know that they have value; a future and a hope in Christ. They are the treasure in a field; a pearl of great price. Christ sees value in each and every life, and His heart longs to invade this place with His reckless love.