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'Man Up Club' works to prevent violence through mentoring

The club's founder and executive director says one of its participants went from being a gang member to now being promoted within the mentoring organization.

I was another violent night Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Two people were killed in separate shootings, and an additional three people were also hurt in Tuesday night's shootings.

According to data released Wednesday from the Minneapolis and St. Paul Police Departments, homicide totals in both cities are on the rise. So far this year, 72 people have been murdered in Minneapolis, compared to 62 homicides last year at this time. St. Paul police have responded to 30 homicides in 2021, compared to 25 homicides last year at this time.

As investigators work overtime, The Man Up Club is working with African-American boys and young men between ages 12 and 24 to try to steer them away from violence and other harmful situations.

Based in Roseville, the organization has cohorts around the metro and is currently raising money to bring a permanent location to north Minneapolis.

Founder and executive director Korey Dean says it should happen sometime early next year.

In the meantime, The Man Up Club continues to offer its participants free field trips, shared meals, healing circles, and group and one-on-one mentoring. The Man Up Club has also held programs that offer free haircuts and suits.

"We have three main goals," Dean said. "That's to get them to graduate from high school, keep them out of the prison pipeline, get them to go on to college or have a trade."

Some kids stay with the program for years — take for example, Claude Coxton.

"Claude himself was a gang member and now he's doing wonderful things," Dean said. "We just promoted him to our director of outreach."

Dean says about six weeks ago, Coxton was shot in the leg somewhere between 43rd Street and 49th Street at Lyndale Avenue in north Minneapolis. Dean says Coxton continues to do the outreach work all while dealing with the trauma from the shooting.

"It allowed him to double down," Dean said.

It's that important.

"Last year was a record year," St. Paul public information officer Steve Linders said. "We're on pace to surpass that this year, which is incredibly tragic."

Linders says St. Paul police have made arrests on the last eight homicides.

"So if people could call us and tell us who is carrying the guns illegally, who is pulling the trigger, and we can intervene before there's a shooting," he said.

Prevention — exactly what groups like The Man Up Club are committed to doing.

"What we do specifically, it impacts crime and violence because we're giving young men an alternative," Dean said.

On Thursday, The Man Up Club will hold interviews with potential participants of its next 10-week mentoring program. Dean encourages those who are serious about improving their lives to apply. The program is open to black males ages 12 to 24.