When five-year-old Nizzel Anthony George’s mother laid him down to sleep Tuesday night, June 26, she assumed that her child, her “hero,” as she called him, would enjoy his sleep and have the pleasant dreams of a five-year-old child. Instead, a waking nightmare: “Shot in his sleep, North Side boy dies” (Star Tribune headline, June 26). The headline the next day: “Family angry, police anxious a day after boy’s fatal shooting.”
Minneapolis police say an ”ongoing dispute” between youth is behind the gunfire, with shots fired into another house two blocks away earlier that night. The family is understandably angry that the police “hinted” (Star Tribune’s word) that not only does the family know who did it, but they won’t tell, and there are others in the neighborhood who know but won’t tell.
Mayor Rybak and Police Chief Dolan blame a lack of gun control laws. How can this be when there are over 300 federal and state gun control laws, not to mention all the local ones? The chief, perhaps in a bit of projection (attributing what one believes to others), stated, ”The larger public in the United States doesn’t really care what happens in the inner city. It’s a population that they don’t care about.”
Really? And he cares? Did he condemn that sentiment? No. Did he call for Minneapolis to rise up and show it cares with suggestions for how to do so? No. For a decade I’ve reported how Minneapolis and its police don’t care (see my dozens of columns on discrimination against and uncaring treatment of Black police officers).
The Star Tribune reminds us that, six months ago to the day, December 26, 2011, three-year-old Terrell Mayes, Jr. met the same shooting fate: “A bullet that came through the wall struck Terrell in the head… He died the next day. His slaying remains unsolved” (see my January 11, 2012 column).
Think about it: Two African American children with a combined age of eight years will not enjoy attending school, marrying, raising a family, planning a future. Something is wrong with this picture. As we said in our January 11 column, this is not Kabul or Baghdad or Beirut or Belfast. This is America the Safe, America the Beautiful, an America that should be able to provide a safe future for all her sons and daughters.
I attended the vigil Tuesday night along the 4500 block of Bryant Avenue North, and heard young people cry out and ask questions about the future of their loved ones, their friends, themselves, and their dreams for a safe America, a safe Minneapolis — statements reflecting dreams shattering and the disappearance of a safety net.
The City administration spent all of its time in the first six months of this year concentrating its energy, strategy and future to acquire passage of legislation for a $1 billion stadium it thinks it can use to take care of its friends and allies. When will it put that kind of effort into education and jobs and employment with diversity? Census data show that only two percent wind up in poverty who “complete high school (at a minimum), work full time and marry before they have children.” This is what is needed, not more gun laws.
Ever since the death of Terrell Mayes, Jr., signs and red flags have been forever present, as if we are in a state of war with serious conflicts on the streets of this city and in the metropolitan area. As for those young shooters, you can be sure they understand that they are not written into the equation for the economic uplift of the city. With no better offer, they turn to an alternative lifestyle that provides only the most dangerous consequences for their future and the future of this city.
All such violent deaths are in vain. And when a city and its institutions lose their commitment to humanity and to equality and diversity for all of its citizens, the city loses another piece of its soul and its future. All that we can do, once again, is pray for the Spirit of a five-year-old child and hope the rest of us can stay out of the way of the bullets, knives, mayhem and murder.
So rest in peace, Minneapolis. God knows you will need His strength to figure out how to have a safe future. Stay tuned.
Columns referenced above are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm. Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMin neapolisStory.com.