Gun violence brings Lucy Laney community to city council

Fed up with gunfire outside their school, staff, students and parents from Lucy Craft Laney at Cleveland Park Community School stood before the Minneapolis City Council for the first time, to show the impact of violence through a child's eyes.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Fed up with gunfire outside their school, staff, students and parents from Lucy Craft Laney at Cleveland Park Community School stood before the Minneapolis City Council for the first time, to show the impact of violence through a child's eyes.

Diana Pastrana, of North Minneapolis, has four children at the school. She stood before council members during a budget meeting, holding up the artwork of her 6-year-old daughter, Reina.

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“Beautiful, from that point of view, until I explain it a little bit,” said Pastrana, holding a colorful construction paper mosaic, a depiction of the home her family rents on Oliver Avenue North.

“This is the door on the house, the trees, and she wanted to make sure I knew the sun was shining,” said Pastrana. “This is a beautiful picture until you see it’s the house we are living in and the bullets go all way across the picture.”

Sketched in crayon, is a man holding a gun, with bullets spraying across her drawing.

“This is not normal. This is not okay. And my children should not want to sleep underneath their beds at night. I should not have to be making my basement comfortable for my children to be ducking for cover. Because on the Northside, we are in a different kind of storm,” said Pastrana, to city council members.

Pastrana said she moved to the home in June, and since her family has been caught in the crossfire of three shootings. She points out a bullet lodged in her siding that nearly entered her kitchen.

“I don’t have the resources to get my children out of there or I would have been gone,” she said, who is trying to save or raise money to move.

Principal Mauri Friestleben asked the council to make the safety of Penn Avenue a priority when considering the city of Minneapolis budget in 2018.

Friestleben added that the incoming councilmember for Ward 4, Phillipe Cunningham, visited Lucy Laney after gunfire erupted outside the school on November 17, around 1 p.m., which children played outside. Cunningham encouraged Friestleben to bring her school’s safety concerns before the current city council.

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“We are depending on you to keep us safe and MPD, and it starts here at City Hall,” said Pastrana.