Archive | Through Their Eyes

‘This is it. We’ve had enough.’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Kayleen Kabba, a student at South High School. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Kayleen Kabba will be going into 10th grade at South High School in the fall; if there is school, that is. She said, “The ‘not knowing’ about that feels big. There is a lot of ‘not knowing’ in my life right now.”
Like people of all ages, Kayleen is struggling to understand what’s going on around her. She said, “Some of my friends think the riots were fueled by the pandemic – that people were going crazy from being cooped up so long. The questions can start to spin around in your head. Why was tear gas used by police on peaceful protestors? Who are these people from out of state causing violence in our community? What is the media talking about? What is real?”
One thing is certain, as far as she’s concerned. Kayleen is glad that South High will no longer have police officers on-site. Minneapolis Public Schools has officially suspended their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder.
Kayleen had an exchange with a police officer last winter, the likes of which she thinks is pretty common. She explained, “My mom dropped me off late at school one morning. I was coming from a doctor’s appointment. When I checked in at the office, the attendance lady said, ‘There are only a couple minutes left of your first class; you can go stand at the door of your second class.’ So I started walking that direction.
“There was a group of 4-5 white kids in front of me in the hall. The school police officer smiled at them as they walked by, but he made me stop. He listened to my explanation, he checked my pass, and he said, ‘Don’t let me catch you out in the hallway again.’ He was not smiling. At the time it didn’t really register, but I felt the difference in the way he treated me was odd.
“We have to have some form of public safety in the schools and on the streets, but the priority should be de-escalation. So much of the time, authority figures don’t take the time to hear more than one side of the story. I really hope change is coming soon. I hope my generation will be the one to say, “This is IT. We’ve had enough.”

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‘It looked like just another killing of a black man in America’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Dre Vann

Dre Vann started coming to Brackett Park in the Longfellow neighborhood when his gym closed in March. He and his friends use the Depression-Era concrete picnic tables as workout benches. They lift free weights, heavy ones, with enviable strength and discipline.
When he saw the video of George Floyd’s murder, Dre hardly even felt it register. He said, “It looked like just another killing of a black man in America. It was a head shaker, but as a black person you’ve got to have that pick up and keep going mentality.”
By Tuesday night, Dre’s anger had grown. He said, “I’ve never done any crimes. I’ve served in the military. Still, I can’t get lost in the wrong neighborhood or walk into most restaurants in the Twin Cities without heads turning and people talking. I am scared every day of my life.”
Dre describes himself as having grown a very thick skin in his 26 years, to keep from getting bruised too bad. He didn’t participate in the protests because he doesn’t feel systemic racism is going to change in this country. He believes the color of his skin is an act of protest he has to live out every single day.
About the protests, Dre said, “I hate to admit it, but I’m glad people burned some things down. If someone’s been bullying you your whole life, it’s not like you’re going to take their lunch money. You’ve got to do something to really get their attention.”
If the world is paying attention right now, Dre questions how long it will last. While he is not convinced that allies will continue to stand up for this cause, Dre said, “I’m glad that people are starting to come out of their comfortable boxes, and entering into the discomfort of talking about really hard things.”

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‘We continue to pray that people get along’

Posted on 27 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN

Senem Yumshuk prays every morning on the lawn in front of Holy Trinity Church. At the base of an oak, she prays for her children. At the base of an elm, she prays for children everywhere. She moves to another oak and prays for her mother. There are many trees. There are many prayers. Sitting on her heels with her back against each tree trunk, Senem feels the presence of Allah – the God of her Muslim faith.
Early in the morning, it is peaceful out on the lawn. Lines haven’t formed yet on 31st St., where hundreds will soon gather to receive food donations. There are just a few cars out.
Senem will return to Turkey next week, leaving her teenage sons and her mother who have lived in this neighborhood for 10 years. She will miss them. She will miss the trees, but there is always someplace to pray. Senem has been unable to get a green card, so she works in Turkey as a nurse eight months of the year and has extended visits here when she can. “This visit,” she said, “has been too crazy.”
When the neighborhood outside her mother’s window began to burn on May 26, the two Turkish women prayed together through the night. They held each other as they watched the news reports roll in. They wept for George Floyd. Senem said, “We believe that every son is our son, and every daughter is our daughter too. Why does it have to be so hard?”
The Turkish news media sent a crew to South Minneapolis to cover the riots. Senem said, “Even in my country, almost 6,000 miles away, they are saying the name of George Floyd. I believe he is very happy right now, because of all the good that will come from what has happened. We continue to cry for him, and to pray that people everywhere can learn to get along.”

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‘Southside Strong:’ T-shirts donated to Lake Street business owners and clean-up volunteers by St. Mane

Posted on 10 June 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Aric Hay (pictured left) and Bob St. Mane (pictured right in baseball cap) are partners in an entrepreneurial effort. They recently donated 500 “Southside Strong” T-shirts to business owners whose properties were damaged or destroyed by unrest along Lake Street. The T-shirts are now for sale online through St. Mane Sporting Goods. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

By Margie O’Loughlin
Bob St. Mane is the second generation owner of St. Mane Sporting Goods in South Minneapolis, a store that generally does a brisk business outfitting youth sports teams throughout the year. When COVID-19 wiped out organized youth sports at least until this fall, St. Mane knew he was in trouble. It was time to start thinking outside the box.
St. Mane came up with the idea of making and selling unity T-shirts during the pandemic. The T-shirts said simply, “Minnesota Strong, Pandemic 2020.” He donated $5 from every sale to other struggling businesses; ones that, like him, hadn’t been able to get federally funded assistance because the government ran out of money.
Not only did St. Mane generate income for his own small business during the shutdown, he was able to make a significant donation to four others.
And now, he is doing it all over again.
In partnership with his next door business neighbor, Aric Hay of Print and Stitch, St. Mane is making and selling T-shirts in support of businesses lost or damaged during the recent unrest on Lake Street.
On June 9, 2020, St. Mane and Hay brought eight boxes of T-shirts to the parking lot at Roosevelt High School. They met up with dozens of community volunteers at 10 a.m., who divided into six walking teams. Each team was instructed to take a stretch of Lake Street. They went off in search of owners of damaged or looted businesses, and were tasked with giving each one a T-shirt that said “Southside Strong.”
There was to be no money collected on Lake Street that day – the 500 printed T-shirts were donated by Bob St. Mane and Aric Hay. It was just a day to show support for business owners and volunteers. Moving forward, community members can purchase T-shirts directly from St. Manes’ website at www.stmanes.com. The cost is $20, and $5 of that will be donated to the Lake Street Council’s general fund to help small businesses rebuild.
When St. Mane spoke to the crowd of volunteers at Roosevelt High School, he said, “First and foremost, we’re here to support the devastated businesses on Lake Street. We don’t want any of the stores to close permanently. We’re a small business struggling with our own problems this year, and we want to stay in business too. We get it.”
At 58 years old, St. Manes is the longest running sporting goods store in Minnesota. For more information about ordering T-shirts, call Bob St. Mane at 612-722-1447 or order online. The family-owned and operated business is located at 4159 28th Avenue South.

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