MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A violent week in Minneapolis culminated with a plea from the community to put the guns down.
Activists, concerned neighbors and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo attended an end-the-violence rally Friday.
There were six shootings in the city between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
“This behavior is not normal, and we will not accept it as being normal,” said Farji Shaheer, a rally organizer with the group Guns Down Love Up.
Arradondo says his first thought when he heard of the shootings was of the victims and their families.
“I’m responsible for making sure I’m doing everything I can to mitigate and prevent those, so I’m constantly looking at and talking with our team leads about our strategies,” he said.
Arradondo says one of those strategies is combining police work with community efforts, because the community can help reduce harm.
Shaheer says showing solidarity at rallies helps change the narrative, which is an important step toward change in the streets.
“Inside of these communities that have been written off, there’s a spirit and a soul that drives in this community for us to do well and do better,” he said.
Bunny Beeks was at the rally. She knows the pain of gun violence firsthand.
Her mother, Birdell, was shot and killed in 2016.
“You learn to cope with it in a different way, but you never get over it,” Beeks said.
She and other community leaders believe it’s crucial to connect early with young people who could potentially turn to violence.
“Kids don’t have things to do anymore, so having those community groups and community centers that they can go and have something productive to do with their life,” Beeks said.
Arradondo’s role at the rally was to listen in order to better understand the violence people in the community have experienced.
“We have to say enough is enough, and we can no longer tolerate this,” he said. “Singing the message loud and clear that our young boys and men — their lives are not disposable.”
The chief says two department reforms he’s prioritizing are revisiting the labor contract with the Police Federation and changing the system to hold officers more accountable.