Monday, May 22, 2006

I attended a peace rally in north Minneapolis on Friday. This is the section of town that needs constant clarification by people who live near it: "No, I live in the GOOD part of Minneapolis." (be that northeast, Uptown, whatever) They CERTAINLY don't live in north Minneapolis, where people are shot weekly and the headlines are almost never positive.

In the anticipation of more crime as the summer months are upon them, people decided to get together and form a chain stretching 12 blocks in the heart of "Northside", as the neighborhood is known. One of the LVC houses resides here, and I went to join them. This last winter was described by most as a "mild" one - both weather-wise and crime-wise. Normally the colder weather deters crime, since most people are indoors. Unfortunately this time around, the mild weather produced a crime rate that corresponded.

There were drum corps playing, people milling about, candy being given away - it felt like any parade day I've been to, except for the not-so-obvious location. After we linked up, we settled in for more festivities: phenomenal dancing, haunting slam poetry and spoken word, and some rockin' beats. People's talents were on display: heartbreaking words coming from inside a deep well of pain and sadness, a product of living in a place roundly forgotten - or flat-out rejected - by mainstream society.

When a certain song began to play, the excitement kicked up a notch. The crowd of people near the front started a quasi-mosh pit, and pretty soon water bottles were flying. Before I knew what was happening, there was a huge exodus of people, going (thankfully) somewhere else to continue this fight. Later that night, a youth was found shot in the back. Last I heard, he was in stable condition in the hospital.

Of course, the irony of this situation drips from the tongue like honey, easily descending into a careless joke told at a party. As the news vultures...err...helicopters began circling overhead, I could just imagine the front-page news the next day - a birds-eye view of numerous flashing lights from police and emergency vehicles, while the headline cried out, "PEACE?"

Peace?, indeed. While I recognized the utter stupidity of the scenario - can't these guys refrain from fighting for ONE DAY?? - part of me cried out with the same anger as the slam poets mere moments before. Why? I'm sure many people in the neighborhood were both frustrated and saddened to see - and hear - cop cars invade their space on the one night they were hoping to be left in peace. But to ask for peace is one thing; to live in a place utterly dismissed by society is something else altogether.

I go back to those moments, in polite conversation over cocktails, when I've overheard people quickly - with an almost embarrassed wave of the hand - clarify where they really live. "No, no, no. I don't live in the bad part, thank God." Are we thanking God for not having to live there, or are we really thanking God that such places exist far enough away from us that we can pretend like they don't exist?

God's peace be with you, and especially with those that seem to never have a chance to truly experience this elusive concept...of peace.


At 12:19 PM , Blogger Meow said...

along those lines... I hate having to explain WHY I live in Frogtown. Why do people assume I must a reason? (Why do I actually have a reason?)


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