Fighting for the neighborhood

I was walking Lucie the Blog Dog this morning past the home of a nearby neighbor when she pulled up in her minivan, got out and walked up her driveway, not once looking back nor saying “hello” to one of the people who’s lived within a stone’s throw of her for 16 years. Tonight, probably, one of her kids will come to the door looking for candy. “I wonder what she’d do if my home were on fire or I were being assaulted,” I wondered as I continued my walk.

In other words: It was a typical Saturday morning in Woodbury.

But the Star Tribune’s Vince Tuss forces us to ask a similar question in a story from south Minneapolis: “I wonder what I would do?”

It’s the story of Dr. Mani Mokalla who was walking his 6-year-old son to the school bus stop on Thursday morning when he came upon a group of teenagers beating up a middle-aged man.

Dr. Mokalla didn’t know any of them but he announced, “This is my business,” when one of the pugilists told him to “mind your own business.” He then waded into the fray, and took a few punches to the face for his effort. But his goal was achieved. The teens — and the victim — scattered.

The police admired his moxie, but suggested that maybe people should just call the cops and avoid a physical altercation.

Coincidentally, this all comes in the wake of several incidents around the country in which teens stood by and watched other teens assault — and in one case, kill and in another case raped– another teen while they did nothing but take some video for YouTube.

How do we get this way? I prefer to think it starts by keeping your head down when the neighbor is out walking his dog, but I might be reaching.

Still, I feel generally unworthy of the company of Dr. Mokalla who says he’d do it again and — according to Tuss — will “strengthen his resolve to fight child poverty and to work on other social issues such as drug abuse, the status of public schools, and a lack of role models. ‘Teens don’t get up at 6:40 a.m. to beat up people,’ he said.”

As long as the likes of Mani Mokalla are living in a neighborhood, it has a fighting chance.

I wish my neighborhood had one.

  • c

    Great article Bob-

    //As long as the likes of Mani Mokalla are living in a neighborhood, it has a fighting chance.

    I wish my neighborhood had one.

    Why they do Bob, they got you and little Lucia. : )

  • Al

    I think we are pretty lucky that we do have people around our suburban neighborhood who watch out for each other. That’s why we moved there. They say that a year or two before we moved into our house, the house 4 doors down had become a drug house. The neighbors got together and took turns watching, writing down license numbers, calling the police, and letting the tenents know they were cosntantly being watched.

    The North MPLS neighborhood we moved from was different. There was a drug house next door and one 6 doors down in the other direction. There were frequent loud parties and drug deals. We made it known that we had no intention of putting up with that. Our calls to police were constant. But we were the only ones calling! The other neighbors complained to us about the problem, but noone did anything. I think they were too scared. Neighborhoods don’t need one person like Mani. People need to know they are surrounded by the likes of Mani, all in it together.