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'You Need To Be Here': Community-Led Effort To Curb Violence In North Minneapolis Begins

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After a surge in gun violence in north Minneapolis -- including three children shot in separate incidents in recent weeks -- a new effort to bring peace to troubled areas has started.

It's called "21 Days of Peace." Volunteers from community groups, churches and around the neighborhood will patrol four intersections deemed "hot spots" due to recent crime. One of them is Lyndale and Broadway avenues, which is where Jeremi Thomas and other members of Shiloh Temple are focusing their efforts over the next three weeks.

"If you just look right now it's super busy [near Merwin Liquors]," Thomas said. "There's been a lot of violence in this area."

His group was standing near the front door, ready to talk and connect with a community desperate for change.

"What we're gonna do is introduce ourselves, create rapport, and as we create rapport you get to find out what the underlying issue is," he said.

That could include homelessness, unemployment or mental health issues.

"If we get those things out of the way and deal with those things, the result will change," he said.

Pastor Victor Armando Martinez and his son, Valentin, will also be at the intersection for the next five night, using traffic cones and a church bus to fight back against the increase in gun violence.

"If you really believe in the safety, if you really are tired of kids getting shot, if you really are tired of that, then you need to be here," Martinez said. "You need to give an hour of your time."

The other intersections part of the initiative include 36th and Lyndale avenues, 36th and Penn avenues and Lowry and Logan avenues.

Sherman Barber was at his daughter's house next to Lowry and Logan. When asked what his biggest concern is about the area, he quickly answered.

"The shooting!" Barber said. "You come out your door and meet a piece of lead."

Watching volunteers from A Mother's Love and New Salem Missionary Baptist Church patrol the troubled corner gives Barber hope.

"It might help. Anything can help now," he said.

Back outside Merwin Liquor, artist Kenneth Caldwell was painting a mural on a brick wall that connects the store with Sanctuary Covenant Church. His effort was a collaboration with the church to come up with an idea to change the atmosphere in the area. He's glad people from the neighborhood are the ones participating in 21 Days of Peace.

"To the people that are in the area, they're not gonna feel like someone from the outside is coming in and try to regulate and try to create change or be a savior for the community and you're not from the community," Caldwell said.

The group chose 21 days because that is the number of days believed to be needed to form a new habit.

Thomas said his group will take space near Lyndale and Broadway in shifts, starting at 7 a.m. until 1 a.m. Volunteers from New Generation Church will be joining them in the evenings.

"And in those 21 days we're expecting God to change some things because we're gonna be out here 24-7," he said.

All four intersections still need more volunteers. Click here to sign up.

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