Brigette Mengerson, one of our favorite readers from North Minneapolis, is an unabashed fan of NoMi as we’ve noted in the past. She hardly overlooks its flaws, not the way many people do with the good stories that exist there.

Like this one, which she forwarded today. It’s certainly good enough for me to pause the last days of vacation to pass it along:

I like to balance out the bitching and bragging I do about my neighborhood over on the North side. Today is a proud moment that I want to share. This morning a working-poor family woke up, looked out their window and noticed both cars parked in front of their house had all of the tires slashed… One of the family members posted on our North Vent page about how upset they were that this happened to them, a cost not many of us could begin to cover. The comments started flying in with empathy, offers to carpool, referrals for good deals, people willing to chip in a couple of bucks, etc. Then, something wonderful happened, something truly reflective of the community that I have come to know on the North side… Someone reached out to a friend at Omar’s Tires to see if he could help this family out. Omar offered up 6 of the tires he had in stock and people started offering their own time and services to get these two cars fixed up! A donation jar was even set up at one of our fine businesses. Before the morning was even over the two cars had been tracked down and neighbors had gotten to work on finding ramps and jacks to remove the slashed tires. All 8 of the tires were replaced before the family got home! One of the family members was visiting her mom at work when she heard about the story traveling on Facebook. She was so surprised and expressed her gratitude for everyone coming together to help them out. THIS is what community looks like, THIS is what NORTH MINNEAPOLIS is capable of… and we make it look easy. So proud of you neighbors! Special THANK YOU TO OMAR’S TIRES in South Minneapolis. Please let him and his crew know how much these kind acts mean to us by mentioning this story and supporting his business!

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (L) talks with Capt. Ron Johnson, right, of the Missouri State Highway Patrol at Drake’s Place Restaurant in Florrissant, Missouri. (Photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)

The difference in reactions to the disturbances in Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer shot an unarmed young black man nearly two weeks ago, sadly isn’t surprising.

Many white Americans reportedly think the black community’s anger over Michael Brown’s death – indeed, the growing movement in Ferguson to address longstanding inequities — and the news media’s coverage of it are a bit much. Some might say the protests give the impression of a “race war” on the ground in greater St. Louis, where relations between the larger white community and blacks really aren’t that bad.

Such views point to stark differences in public opinion over whether Brown’s shooting is about race.

But make no mistake, the nation’s judicial system has long been discriminatory. Blacks are imprisoned for drug offenses far more than whites, more likely to be stopped than white motorists, and more likely to face harsh sentences than white offenders for the same crimes. In Missouri, about one in four blacks has experience with the criminal justice system.

“The criminalization of black men has been an ongoing phenomenon since the abolition of chattel slavery in this country and has resulted in low-income black men being constant targets within society and subjected to a heightened level of scrutiny and interference by police and security personnel,” writes Nekima Levy-Pounds, professor of law at the University of St. Thomas.

For too many black people in Ferguson, unpaid traffic tickets can lead to arrest warrants – and jail time, a local public defender Thomas Harvey told Sarah Kliff of the website Vox.

Attorney General Eric Holder acknowledged such disparate tensions Thursday, when he spoke of his meetings with Johnson’s family and members of their community.

“In my conversations with dozens of people in Ferguson [Wednesday], it was clear that this shooting incident brought to the surface underlying tensions that have existed for many years,” Holder said. “I wanted the people of Ferguson to know that I personally understand that mistrust. The Department of Justice and this attorney general stand with Ferguson.”

In just a short comment, Holder said more than President Obama did two days ago. Holder, who was as young man during the heyday of the civil rights movement participated in protests at Columbia University, gave voice to the frustrations in Ferguson and beyond, tensions that also point to disparities in employment, education and health.

The attorney general said there needs to be a greater sense of trust between police and the communities they serve, a discussion about the “appropriate use of force” and fair treatment for all.

If only we could get beyond the images in Ferguson, where a photo NPR reporter Sheeren Marisol Meraji posted Wednesday appears to show how much the community isn’t welcome at the courthouse.

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder speak on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, where nightly riots have occurred following the shooting on August 9, 2014 of an unarmed African American teenager by police, prior to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, August 18, 2014. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

When President Obama addressed the nation Monday on crises in war-torn Iraq and Ferguson, Mo., millions likely waited with anticipation for inspiring and defining words.

Across the country, the attention was focused not on the Middle East but on what the president would have to say about Ferguson, which has swirled in turmoil since police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown 10 days ago.

Some might have thought the president would deliver a speech like those of yesteryear, the kind of remarkable insight then-Sen. Obama delivered in 2008, when he distanced himself from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and gave a thorough presentation of race relations in the United States. That speech helped right his presidential campaign and cement his reputation as an orator.

But the campaigner full of hope has yielded to a president grounded in reality. As much as he may have wanted to, he steered clear of indicting the justice system.

As writer David Swerdlick has noted, President Obama must “represent the American system … with all its attendant flaws.”

So after days of criticism that he has been absent from the discussion on Ferguson — where police have pointed their guns at even law-abiding protestors and lobbed tear gas at their feet — Obama seemed to step cautiously into the fray on Monday.

FERGUSON, MO – AUGUST 17: A woman is helped from the street after bing overcome by tear gas when a demonstration over the killing of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer was attacked by police August 17, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Despite the Brown family’s continued call for peaceful demonstrations, violent protests have erupted nearly every night in Ferguson since his August 9, death. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Appearing tired and resigned, the president announced that the Justice Department has opened an investigation into the death of Brown and that Attorney General Eric Holder will arrive in Ferguson Wednesday to meet with investigators and members of the community.

Though the president spoke to the tension in Missouri, where people are outraged that another young black man is dead – and that authorities have yet to charge the officer – gone was the sparkling delivery of days past.

His muted delivery sparked complaints that the president is out of touch with black people. Still, the president spoke to a central truth:

“In too many communities around the country a gulf of mistrust exists between the local community and local law enforcement,” Obama said. “Too many young men of color are left behind and seen as objects of fear.”

Anyone who longed to hear the president use his bully pulpit to speak forcefully on police abuses, or deliver a soaring speech that appeals to the nation’s better instincts, was sorely disappointed.

Trying to avoid any impression that he is “putting my thumb on the scale one way or the other,” Obama urged people in Ferguson not to give in to anger while the justice system inches forward.

Although the president said that constitutional rights to speak freely, to assemble and to report in the press “must be vigilantly safeguarded” and that there is “no excuse for excessive force by police,” his relatively guarded comments may indicate he is not able to bridge the black-white divide as so many of his supporters want him to.

Although the president asked Americans “to seek our shared humanity that’s laid bare by this moment,” the question for many is when there will be a shared, and equal, sense of justice.