On a corner in north Minneapolis, a woman bellowed: “Stop killing our babies.”
It was sweltering on Saturday as Trevia Tyson of Brooklyn Park beckoned motorists with a cardboard sign to honk for peace the day after 2-year-old Le’Vonte King Jason Jones was killed at the intersection of Penn and Lowry avenues.
Jones and his 15-month-old sister, Mela Queen Melvina Jones, were shot in their father’s vehicle Friday afternoon. His sister survived.
“Our babies are dying young,” Tyson shouted.
While no one has been arrested, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said Saturday, the investigation is “making positive steps, progressing.”
More than 75 people have been struck by gunfire in north Minneapolis this year.
On the corner, community members stopped to confide to one another their losses to gun violence as casually as some people talk about shoes. Some talked current events — the recent fatal shooting of grandmother Birdell Beeks — politics, faith or how retaliation for being a “snitch” would prevent any justice for the latest victim.
Drivers honked as Tyson, 34, paced the corner in a patterned dress beside a bus stop and begged people to “put the guns down.” Sirens blitzed by around 1 p.m., and music played from car radios as drivers waved and beeped. Passersby waiting for the bus told Tyson, “I hear you.”
Debbie Lemon, 58, of St. Paul, was visiting her niece and suggested calling in the National Guard.
“That baby only had two Thanksgivings,” Tyson said. “Two Christmases. Two Valentine’s Days.”
A man named Deacon Johnny Johnson set up his own camp with freeze pops, a Bible and microphone across the street and delivered Tyson a water bottle. Another woman, who had just purchased a Subway meal, offered some napkins to wipe the sweat from Tyson’s forehead. “This is what needs to be done,” she told Tyson, affirming her one-woman stand.
Stuffed animals were nestled on the grass among flowers beneath a bouquet of balloons shaped like hearts, smiley faces and “Dory” the fish. Stroller-pushing families passed by, and one man holding an extra pair of sneakers stopped to cross his hands and bow his head.
“I don’t know about y’all, but I want these kids to live,” Tyson said. “I want them to have a better future than I had.”
Tyson, who lost her brother to gun violence when she was 16, works two jobs at Wal-Mart and Holiday Inn. She had planned on staying home on Saturday. But then the news broke.
Holding her cardboard sign in two hands, Tyson crossed the street to bellow the same message from a different vantage point.
“Nobody wants to speak up for a young child,” she called out.