North Side Minneapolis neighbors took aim at the ways that systemic racism perpetuates the cycle of violence at a forum organized Thursday (March 13) by Protect Minnesota. The forum, which as held at the office of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change on Broadway Avenue, included a call to oppose a bill in the Minnesota State Senate authored by Sen. Ron Latz (DFL-St. Louis Park), which they say criminalizes youth of color, rather than focusing on prevention.
Among the speakers was Maleta Kimmons (known as "Queen"), who has experienced the court system after she was caught by police in a van filled with guns.
"I got caught in a van with a bunch of guns," she said. "I was in a car with some people and there was guns and ammunition everywhere. We were going to carry out an action, and the police ended up pulling us over and people jumped out of the van and ran and left me sitting with the guns."
Kimmons was able to make a plea-bargain deal with the courts: She helped police purchase illegal semi-automatic weapons from street dealers in exchange for a reduced sentence; but the stigma of being criminalized followed her and stayed on her record for a long time. "That came with a lot of labeling and stigma," she said.
She's also been the victim of violence. "I was beat and left in an alley," she said. "I happened to see someone that needed some help and I thought I could help that person. I was violently assaulted, but I haven't let that stop me from helping people or giving into fear. I'm just happy to be a part of tonight's event and hopefully be the change that I want to see in my community."
Kimmons hopes for better neighborhood communication with the police, as well as cameras on the vests of officers.
Read more about this story here: theuptake.org/2014/03/19/north-side-groups-aim-at-gun-violence/