The sound of dying neighborhoods

Unless something changes, 2013 in the Twin Cities may be the summer when people and politicians gave up and ceded their neighborhoods to the gangs.

Just last week, for example, a beating on the East Side of Saint Paul led its residents to beg for officials to do something — anything, really. Nobody seems to have an answer, however.

On Sunday morning, MPR’s Curtis Gilbert reported, a City Council candidate in Minneapolis was awakened by gunfire, saw an SUV drive away, and found shell casings in the street.

“And it’s even more disturbing when you go door-knocking and you hear stories like this about every other block,” Ian Alexander said.

But nothing should be more alarming than when people reach the breaking point, tired of putting up with what few of us would. Take Brigette Mengerson, for example. She’s a homeowner in north Minneapolis who has proudly called it home, an example of what neighborhoods need to flourish.

She was awakened this morning, too, by gunfire. She posted what should be a wake-up call on the North Vent Facebook page:

Tuesday, 1:47am… Semi automatic fire, about 7 shots. Third incident in a row, sounded like the alley of Penn and 34th. For some reason, these shots gave me a guttural response to cry as I laid very rigid in my back, speaking to 911. I couldn’t fall back asleep, I kept rearranging the furniture in my head, least likely place to take a bullet configuration. Then on to what room in the house would I feel safest putting in a nursery, and then more tears, no desire to bring a child into this home, this area.

I am so ******* disgusted by the very evident gang wars going on around here. Coincidence that 35th and Freemont got shot up and then in the middle of the night shots returned on this side of North? Daniel Field and I are a stone’s throw away from the school; is that what it will take to get some serious enforcement, kids getting shot walking home from school or run down by these jackasses speeding, weaving, riding out of windows, on top of the hoods of cars?

These aren’t just brainless thrill seekers; these are gang initiations, calling cards, territorial pissings. We are the only ones living in fear, the terrorist gang members have not seen any evidence that there will be consequences for their crimes. It just sickens me that this community pays for those crimes in both financial and personal loss, through plummeting house values, loss of possessions, and most valuable to me, loss of feeling safe. It’s the emotional terrorism that without effort, kept my spine bolted into my mattress last night, tears running down my face. To that, I say **** this place.

Even a neighborhood’s biggest supporters can reach the point where walking away and leaving it to die is an option.