Homicide is the leading cause of death for African American males 15 to 24 years of age. Ninety percent of these young boys/men are killed with firearms. And gun violence is popping up all across the Twin Cities. Recently, a 14-year-old boy from Hastings Middle School who brought a .22 caliber loaded handgun to school; a 16-year-old Red Lake Senior High boy killed his family and proceeded to the high school to open fire and killed and injured 21 persons before turning the gun on himself. Two 17-year-old Somali boys shot three persons in a botched robbery. Minneapolis is not immune to this national epidemic of gun violence. Our youth are risking their lives, endangering others and facing years of incarceration, paralyzing injuries and violent death.
In answer to the growing epidemic of gun violence, The Twin Cities Anti-Violence Coalition and its many partners --Parents of Murdered Children, Alternative to Violence, Citizens for Safer MN, Minneapolis Department of Health & Family Support, African American Men Project, Acme & Smith Foundries, Shiloh Temple International Ministries, Gospel Temple COGIC, Oasis of Love, National Association of Black Social Workers and others have committed to hosting several Anti-Violence Weekend Events. Our County Attorney Michael Freeman, along with many other dignitaries, are in total support of our anti-violence efforts.
It has been determined that lack of education contributes to the increase in youth crime. There is also a strong correlation between bullying and criminal behavior. Thus, our coalition will focus on awareness on youth violence. We recognize that long term solutions lie in a multi-pronged, multi-faceted approach to poverty, drugs and lack of opportunities. However, holding meaningful activities in the communities most impacted by gun violence is just one way to address the youth violence.
Upcoming activities planned by the coalition are: May 1, Anti Violence Motorcycle Ride at Brookdale Mall, 8:30 am; June 11, Anti Violence Talent Show Contest at Capri Theater, 5 pm-10 pm; June 12, Lay Down Your Guns, Hug Your Sons Car Wash, 10 am - 3 pm (location to be determined); June 12 Anti-Violence Five-on0Five Basketball Tournament at Zanewood Community Center, 10 am - 4:30 pm.
The Anti-Violence Weekend Finale is Bury Our Guns, Not Our People Gun Buy Back slated for June 18, 2010, at Shiloh Temple International Ministries –Minneapolis and Gospel Temple COGIC--St. Paul from 10 am to 10 pm. Through these events we hope to heighten the community’s understanding of the impact gun violence has on our kids and mobilize them to actively work towards a solution. The challenge is to motivate neighborhoods to no longer sit on the sidelines in silence and watch our youth hurt and kill themselves or others.
Each anti-violence event will dedicate a portion of time to educating the audience on gun violence, its impact, offer conflict resolution services, counseling, to provide information and resources, encourage healing to begin.
We should remember that after the rain, comes a rainbow. We want to encourage community members to become involved in and support our youth in all the above events. In March 2010 Sgt. Palmer of the Minneapolis Police Department began to reach out to community leaders to help prevent any more violence. Here is your opportunity. Donations are still needed to make each and every event a success. Remember, we can invest in our youth on the front end or we WILL invest in them on the back end through incarceration or through more deaths.