MINNEAPOLIS — Scott Anderson Sr. looked at the crowd near Lyndale and Broadway in North Minneapolis on Friday night and saw strength in numbers.
A few hundred church leaders and community members – including Anderson’s anti-violence group, “A Mother’s Love” – gathered in a grassy area near the busy intersection for a prayer vigil around 6:30 p.m., before heading out to patrol various neighborhoods on the North Side.
It’s the fifth night of a “21 Days of Peace” campaign.
And it appears to be making some progress.
“If you’re going to be out here, we’re going to be out here, too,” Anderson Sr. said. “Tension is starting to build up, and we’re hoping to keep that calm.”
The “21 Days of Peace” efforts launched on Monday, placing community patrols at so-called “hotspot” crime areas like Lowry and Logan with the full blessing of Minneapolis Police and the state’s Department of Public Safety.
This work has become even more urgent with the recent shootings of three children. Ten-year-old Ladavionne Garrett remains in the hospital, while nine-year-old Trinity Ottoson-Smith’s family announced Thursday night that she passed away due to her gunshot wound to the head. Six-year-old Aniya Allen, the granddaughter of a well-known peace activist, also died last week.
“When you’re hurting babies? You’ve stepped over the line now,” Anderson Sr. said.
Allen’s death near Penn and 36th Avenue in North Minneapolis prompted a separate event on Friday night, held at the intersection where she was shot. Michael Smith, a community organizer, called the shootings of children “reckless” and called for an end to the violence.
With 33 homicides entering Friday, Minneapolis has doubled its total compared to this time last year, police data shows. Compared to the average dating back to 2017 for this time period, homicides in Minneapolis have almost tripled.
“We obviously know we have an uphill climb,” Smith said. “So, at this point, we just need to be focused on this being a daily journey.”
Scott Anderson Sr., who works on next-level life skills with young men at A Mother’s Love, said he hopes the 21 Days of Peace campaign will help intervene before shootings happen.
“Right now, it’s neighborhood on neighborhood,” he said. “It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
And these community groups plan to patrol their neighborhoods as long as it takes.
“We’d rather it just come to an end,” Anderson Sr. said. “Time for it to come to an end.”