"Tired Of Runnin’ ”
I'm sittin' on my porch watching the law
As they ride past in their patrol cars
So tell me why I feel like the enemy
They're supposed to be here protectin' me
I might have went too far
Helpin' the contribute to makin' their job hard
Servin' fiends like these people ain't no enemy
I can't believe I'm out here killin' my community
If you knew how far I came
From where I am and where I used to be
Don't want it
You can tell by the look of me
This gangsta life ain't no longer in me
As I write you today, violent crime is up over 4 percent citywide this year with the highest concentration of violent and property crimes in North Minneapolis. Aggravated assaults in our precinct are up over 13%. Shooting calls are up over 36% and officers have already seized 258 guns so far this year, up 35%.
Mere blocks from the church our neighbors are being shot and killed in senseless acts of violence. A bloody Fourth of July weekend saw two neighbors shot dead and three others wounded. Later the following week three women just down the street from us on 35th and Dupont were ambushed and shot multiple times.
People are picking fights on buses and settling them with guns. People are racing their cars through our streets shooting at each other through the windows. Our own church kids are now afraid to go to the park down the road because of the new police cameras being set up to monitor gun violence.
Our city council president and fourth precinct rep is tired of "our neighborhood being overrun by thugs with guns" and presses the courts to send these "thugs" to our overcrowded jails for a maximum sentence. Our Mayor is calling for an end to the city's spike in violence and presses the police for more officers and overtime though no one is quite sure how to pay for that. Our own police chief is walking the beat on our blocks herself but openly acknowledges that "we can't arrest our way out of this problem." We all agree that everyone has a right to feel safe in our neighborhood and in our homes and that we must do what we can to stop the violence. But then we fence in and pit bull our yards, slam our doors and shake our fists at our neighbors in a tired and impotent rage through our front porch windows......
Are we tired of the running? Tired of the shooting? Tired of being afraid of our own neighbors? Are we tired of feeling hopeless, embittered and disempowered? Excellent.....
It is time for a reality check. We create the community we wish to be. This is our neighborhood, these are our blocks. This is our church and we have been called to serve this neighborhood for more than 120 years. If we will not create the community we wish to see here, no amount of police officers, courts or politicians will.
More, we must own that we have created the community we have. We can blame economic realities, slum lords and Chicago gangland transplants for the urban blight we are suffering. We can hold our elected leaders feet to the fire and force them to exhaust our financial resources holding those whom we deem undesirable at bay. We can even form vigilante neighborhood groups to chase away the riffraff ourselves. But no amount of blame or accountability can hide the fact that being tired of the running is the biggest part of the problem in growing community. We have let our neighborhood deteriorate by our indifference, self-interest and self-imposed helplessness.
Even more, to create the community we wish to be, we must change our behaviors that are in conflict with that community. Anger and frustration can be destructive to building community when it becomes fuel to feed the sicknesses of dependency, helplessness and entitlement. But anger and frustration are wonderful tools for change as long these emotions push us in the direction of re-engagement, reconnection and relationship.
So eat a hot dog on Wednesday night at our neighborhood BBQ with 130 of our neighbors and get to know some of them. Come to our Awesome Summer Kids program during the week and teach one of the 30 neighborhood children about what is right and wrong. Better yet, go to the park with them so they are not afraid to play next to the cop cams. Show up on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday and have a cup of joe with the 60+ families at or below poverty level that are coming to receive groceries. Talk to them about what they could do with the $400-$600 in real dollars they now don't have to spend to feed their families.
Even better, invite our community to sit and listen and learn from the greatest community activist of all. Because being a disciple of Jesus means being in community, building hope, serving in love and never, ever having to feel tired of the runnin....