The Rev. Harding Smith addressed the gathering crowd at a north Minneapolis park Wednesday afternoon, quietly at first, but soon in a booming voice that echoed the exasperation many felt over another senseless shooting in their neighborhood. Young people, he said, think it’s OK to kill and steal in this town.
On Tuesday night, a 19-year-old pregnant woman, her 14-month-old daughter and the baby’s 17-year-old uncle were shot in front of their house by a gunman wearing a hoodie, who fired at them from across the street.
Smith asked how guns keep getting in the hands of people acting so irrationally.
“We come together as a community today,” he said. “Enough is enough. I am very, very angry.”
Trenay Garner and Javar Smith came home on crutches as the rally and protest were winding down. Other relatives helped with Garner’s daughter, little My’Khalea Smith, who still has a bullet lodged in her shoulder.
They were shot shortly before 5:30 p.m. Tuesday by a man outside their home in the 2900 block of Lyndale Avenue N. A car in front of the house also was hit. Nobody has been arrested. Minneapolis police Lt. Chris Granger urged anybody with information to call the department’s tip line. The case has a greater sense of urgency because the victims include a baby and a woman about to give birth, he said.
“We are following leads, but we need your help,” he said. “The community is our eyes and ears.”
Nearly 50 people showed up at the makeshift rally and protest at Farview Park, less than half a block from where the shooting occurred. Passing cars honked their horns in approval of children holding signs that said “Stop the Killing.” Several wore black T-shirts for Minnesota Acts Now, a group that aims “to reclaim our community one block at a time.”
Before the rally, peace activist K.G. Wilson walked through the neighborhood, using a bullhorn to urge people to come out of their houses and “come out and stand up for us.” This isn’t a protest for Trayvon Martin or a recent fatal shooting of a man by police in south Minneapolis, he said.
“I’m furious, sick and tired,” he said, briefly speaking about his 19-year-old son who was shot in the neck three weeks ago. “When are people going to come out and protest for us?”
The Rev. Dennis Edwards of Sanctuary Covenant Church in north Minneapolis ran into Garner’s mother and asked if he could pray to ease the trauma in her life. He talked about how he had attended a great block party earlier this month, and he wanted to create more opportunities for neighbors to get together for events not involving a violent incident.
Pastor Smith railed against the lack of background checks on gun buyers and the trillions of dollars he said had been spent on an overseas war to find nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.
“They can be found right here,” he said. “Police can’t do everything. You can’t arrest the problem away.”
Samiera Garner, Trenay’s mother, and Teona Franklin, a close relative, told members of the crowd that coming forward with information about the shootings wouldn’t make them a snitch.
“Tell what you know,” said Kedra Garner, Trenay’s younger sister. “It’s all we ask. If it was your baby, you would want people to call the police.”
A witness and relative of one of the victims, who asked not to be identified out of concern for her safety, said Wednesday that at least eight shots were fired by the man wearing a hoodie and what she called a “fisherman’s hat.” After the shooting, she said, he ran down an alley.
“He shot innocent people for no reason,” the relative said.
She said she had seen the man from across the street and thought it was strange that he wore a hoodie on such a hot evening. But she said she didn’t think anything of it until she saw him raise his hand.
“I turned and said something to my nephew like, ‘Run!’ ” the woman said. “And he just started shooting, pow, pow, pow.”
Loretta King raised four children in north Minneapolis, where she has lived for 22 years. She hasn’t seen the level of violence get any better over that time.
“Need to reach out to kids,” she said. “If they don’t get attention from adults, they will find something else to fill the void.”