We've had enough, North Side leaders say

  • Article by: RANDY FURST , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2012 - 10:54 PM
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In front of the home of Nezzel Banks,5, who was killed earlier today, friends and family including his mother Christina Banks, second from left, and Rev. Jerry McAfee, far right, paid tribute to his memory with a candle light vigil.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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Key community leaders in the neighborhood where 5-year-old Nezzel Banks was killed wasted little time, convening a meeting Tuesday and deciding to launch an immediate anti-violence campaign they hope will galvanize north Minneapolis.

Their slogan: "Enough is enough! No one dies!"

Plans include a Facebook and Twitter barrage, posters and postcards, and a plea that every North Side resident end their e-mails with the slogan.

Roberta Englund, the executive director of the Folwell Neighborhood Association who chaired the meeting, said she hopes to carry the theme into the North Side's annual National Night Out block parties on Aug. 7.

"We want it to get out in every venue," said Jonathan Palmer, who works with the Jordan Area Community Council and is executive director of the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.

At the meeting, attended by about 20 people, there was a recommendation that economic disparities be addressed and some concern whether an anti-violence message will resonate with the young people doing the shootings. Several times exchanges got a little testy.

But Englund urged the group to focus on the slogan, while recognizing the long-term nature of the problems. "We can't solve the gun problem [now], we can't solve the disparity issues, but we better figure out how we are going to live," she said.

James Everett of the Sub Zero Collective, which combines community outreach and hip-hop, suggested that young people be taken to the morgue and shown what bullets can do.

Lt. David Hayhoe of the Fourth Precinct said at the meeting that, overall, violence is down on the North Side. But he lamented that despite publicity and the offer of a $15,000 reward, police have not received any tips in the case of 3-year-old Terrell Mayes Jr., who was shot to death six months ago on the North Side, apparently by a stray bullet.

Everett said that although he supports police efforts, "We also have some of the largest lawsuits against the police in this country," making people hesitant to talk to police.

Among those at the meeting was Linda Lee Koelman, a police chaplain who had met with 25 members of Nezzel Banks' family. "It's horrendous," she said. "A lot of tears, a lot of crying. What can anyone say when a 5-year-old is shot in their sleep?"

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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