The accidental killing of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards of South Minneapolis is but the latest Twin Cities crime to clearly prove something must be done about those who deliberately commit… The accidental killing of 11-year-old Tyesha Edwards of South Minneapolis is but the latest Twin Cities crime to clearly prove something must be done about those who deliberately commit acts of wanton bloodshed across America. Among many other victims throughout the nation, is four-year-old Davisha Brantley-Gillium who was slain in 1996. Keith B. Crenshaw was convicted in June of committing the murder while attempting to kill rival gang members in order to join the Rolling 60s Crips. He was sentenced on Dec. 4 to life in prison. The young men (the average age for gang members is under 19) who took Edward’s life and that of little Brantley-Gillium, opted for a lifestyle of danger and death. Brantley-Gillium, though, had barely begun to live. Edwards looked forward to eventually becoming a lawyer and was at home in the care of her family, doing schoolwork, when she was shot by a bullet intended for someone else — as in the slaying of Brantley-Gillium, a rival gang member.
Last week’s Insight/KMOJ Public Policy Forum took a hard look at gang violence. Before Minneapolis Police Chief Robert Olson, Spike Moss and the Rev. Randy Staten dialogued regarding the causes and consequences of gang activity, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar and Chief Olson related the process by which alleged gangsters Myon Burrell (16) Hans Williams (23) and Isaiah Tyson (21) were apprehended and charged with the murder of Edwards. Both officials credited the community of South Minneapolis with helping with the suspects’ arrest which resulted in them facing a charge of first-degree murder, the most serious charge Minnesota law provides. “We’ve had several witnesses [give information to] help solve this crime,” said Klobuchar. She added that witnesses’ names are held in strict confidentiality in the ongoing investigation. “We will [work] to do justice for this family.”
Olson called community cooperation “the key element that led to the quick work by the officers in making those arrests.” He shared that, thanks to citizens’ vital assistance, police investigators traced the perpetrators and intended victim. “We’re still working on the case and a lot of things have to be done.” Commenting on the general state of “gangland terrorism”, he said, “This has been our major concern, the senseless violence that goes on between gangs over turf and the drug trade. The vast majority of killings [in Minneapolis] this year are gang related.”
Moss, who will lead Minneapolis’ participation in a National Gang Summit, addressed the issue of youngsters being caught up in gang life. He said” “It’s oppression that leads to the poverty [which] leads to the break up of the family. Once a child grows up like wild weeds, you get what you produce.”
He called federal, state and city government to account for failing to provide resources necessary to salvage wayward adolescents before they are lost to a lifestyle that is not only self-destructive, but threatens the well being of others. “We continue to allocate $36,000 for one year in prison and a dime for a day in college. [City officials] have to bring the resources that create jobs in our communities…to change the lives of young men.” Moss accused authorities of complicity in means by which lives are destroyed. “The police department has to…cut off this faucet of drugs coming to our community. Rather than grab that little fool with one pill, grab that dude with that briefcase [who] brings in [large amounts of drugs] and get him out of the game. Grab that fool in the suburb who’s bringing over those shipments of guns for our children to kill themselves. There’s no gun store in this community, no gun factory. We shouldn’t have guns in our community.”
Olson denied that police have control over the flow of drugs into Minneapolis.
Staten, who preached at Edward’s funeral, remarked,