By Harry Colbert, Jr.
Managing Editor –
Sun’s out guns out.
While most associate that saying with the showing off of well-toned limbs during the summer months, the saying has a far more literal meaning in many urban enclaves. Minneapolis and St. Paul are experiencing their share of violent crime in 2017. At time of press there have been 13 homicides committed in Minneapolis in 2017.
The most recent was the June 6 killing of a 37-year-old in North Minneapolis. A day prior a 17-year-old succumbed to his wounds from a weekend shooting. In St. Paul there have been 12 killings thus far this year; four have been teenage girls.
Enough is enough.
That’s the sentiment behind this week’s gang summit to be held Friday and Saturday (June 16 and June 17) at the New Salem Baptist Church, 2507 Bryant Ave. N., Minneapolis. International superstar Stevie Wonder will be on hand to talk personally with area gang members to call for and encourage lasting peace. The summit is being called by the group United for Peace – an initiative led by the Rev. Jerry McAfee, the Rev. Alfred Babington-Johnson and community activist Spike Moss.
Moss said intervention is critical if the area wants to have a summer of sun and fun rather than doom and gloom. He said he sees similarities going into the summer of 2017 that he saw in the 1990s when Minneapolis got the moniker “Murderapolis.” Moss convened a summit back then that eventually was replicated in Chicago, Washington D.C, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and other areas plagued by violence.
“In the ‘90s we were able to save thousands of lives, but the reason we’re back is because the things that were promised (by city and state officials) were never delivered,” said Moss.
Moss said jobs, job training and educational opportunities were promised but the promises were unkept.
“We kept up our part but the resources were never provided,” said longtime activist Moss. “The glue to lasting peace is for people to have peace within their own heart and that starts with opportunity.”
Moss is calling on men of the community to join in mentoring and interacting with wayward youth. But he said they must be up for the challenge.
“I’ve had guns pointed at me. We go in there (areas of increased violence) and we go in without guns, without (bulletproof) vest; the only thing we’re armed with is God almighty and the love in our hearts,” said Moss. “We’ve been successful before and we can do it again.”
The straight-talking activist said he knows the summit won’t result in zero violence, but it can greatly reduce the number of violent acts in the community.
“We will never save everybody but let’s save who we can. Saving lives, that’s the mission,” said Moss.