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To fear or not fear Minneapolis' North Side? Readers respond to body armor story

“Level 3A body armor," Susan Rose announced to the Minneapolis City Council. "This is what I have to wear to come out of my home in north Minneapolis.”

“Level 3A body armor," Susan Rose announced to the Minneapolis City Council. "This is what I have to wear to come out of my home in north Minneapolis.” YouTube

City Pages' readers respond to the tale of Susan Rose, a north Minneapolis block leader who testified before the Minneapolis City Council that she has to wear body armor to leave her home:

The rainbow-colored gay man as non-target

I moved to north Minneapolis in June of 2017. I'm a 30-year-old, white, gay man with bleached white hair, a flair to dress somewhat dramatically, and I'm in no way inconspicuous.

I moved to North with a friend and recruited a couple roommates along the way, some of whom have lived here since the beginning.

I walk or take public transit 70 percent of the time because I don't own a car. I am out amongst the other inhabitants of North all the time, and I have yet to experience the need to wear body armor when leaving my house.

The month we moved into our house also contains an important event for the LGBTQ+ community, and that is Pride. I put on my rainbow scarf and did my hair up with glitter and a jeweled hair piece, and then realized I was about to walk eight blocks down to Broadway Avenue looking like a giant rainbow-colored target.

My dad grew up in North, so I had heard stories. I moved here to much protest, but I wouldn't have it. The house was incredible and the rumors be damned.

I made it a block when I turned down the road to see a group of young men, similar to what the woman in this article is so sure are part of the problem, and felt my stomach drop into my boots.

I thought: "Well... this is it... this is how I die."

And something did die... My negative opinions and fears of the place I lived.

As I approached the group I heard one of them go: "Hey, look at this guy," and gesture in my direction.

Another resting on the hood of a car got up and walked toward me: "Man, you one of those gays?"

I nodded: "Yes, I am."

He stood there giving me the once over for a second and then said: "Cool man, you have a good Pride." He shook my hand and that was that.

I had three other exchanges with similar groups, got on a bus to my job in the North Loop, one of the highest-end, most "accepting and diverse" sections of Minneapolis. The second I get off the bus the first word I heard was "fag."

I know north Minneapolis isn't perfect. I know it has problems. I hear the gun shots a few times a month. But I don't think arming more people is a reasonable solution.

Brandon Robert Caviness 

Yes, North is violent, but her fears are a self-fulfilling prophecy

As a former North Side resident of 23 years, I can attest to the actual amount of gunfire on a regular basis. And violence. And litter. And other assorted crimes.

We had a gun only for the last four years living there because of neighbors verbally assaulting us and they were known gang members. The police then had little support from the city, and it's worsening. That is on the city and the council.

The political climate was the main reason we left. We knew it wasn't going to get better and sold at the right time. We've had zero crimes at our new house in two-plus years.

What I see in this article is a woman whom is making herself a target of violence. I think she has a lot of anxieties, some of which are exacerbated by the large population of color that lives in north Minneapolis. Because that anxiety is rooted in the woman's own racist misconceptions, she has created this perpetuating story of what North is and created a self-fulfilling prophecy. I imagine she gets ridiculed every time she leaves her house, if that's what she puts on.

The lesson I have for north Minneapolis is the lesson I have for the whole of the city: Mind your own business.

If it's not your problem, don't make it your problem. If no one is being harmed, you're not being a good Samaritan by stepping in, you're being a busy body. Just keep to yourself, and you'll be fine. 

Stephen Jester 

I love the North Side

I live on the North Side with my husband and kids. It's just like everywhere else in the city. Except it's better. Better neighbors (geez.. except that lady), better friends, and more generous, community minded-folks in general.

I love it. You couldn't pay me to leave. And I've lived everywhere in Minneapolis my whole life.

It's not any different than any other neighborhood. People gardening, kids playing, people working, couples on dates, people walking their dog. I was raised on the South Side and in Southeast and the way people talked about the North Side, it sounded like a damn war zone.

It is not. It is beautiful.

Karen Marie Hinz

The unappreciated benefits

It's better, all right: Lower property taxes, lower property values, and North Memorial Hospital is close by to take you within minutes of being shot.

Darren Russell

Life in North is often downright scary

If you haven't been caught in the middle of gunfire while in your neighborhood, you may not understand this and may think it's ridiculous.

I have been caught in the middle of gunfire. I haven't handled it like Susan has, but I think we each find our own ways of feeling safe in a community where we do hear daily shots, and where you can be out on a beautiful day, enjoying our beautiful neighborhoods, when all of a sudden someone starts recklessly shooting.

I agree with Susan that we do not want a decrease in funding police. It takes too long to get assistance as it is.

My hope is that the new violence prevention initiative will help drive down the violence, because it is often downright scary.

Charmaine Wahlstrom

Shots fired, bullet holes in the walls

Sorry, I lived in north Minneapolis in a brand new development and we were surrounded by gunfire, police chases, drugs, and neighbors with bullets through their houses. North Minneapolis is not someplace safe to just walk around.

Those of you laughing at this or making fun of this woman who just wants to live where she built a life are not being very thoughtful or caring humans.

We ended up having to short-sell our house to get out. We were lucky we had that option. Not everyone can just up and move.

We all have the right to live somewhere that is safe. Please be a little more compassionate people.

Kerry Gillespie Griffin

You're not making me feel safe, Susan

A jumpy person with a gun sounds like an AWESOME neighbor to have!

Karin Odell 

Cutting police funding isn't the solution

I’ve lived in the Harrison neighborhood for seven years. I love it.

While there is no doubt there are pockets of Minneapolis that are more dangerous and prone to gun violence than others -- admittedly more so on the North Side than other parts of the city -- I have a hard time understanding her fear in this particular neighborhood.

Having said that, we cannot discount the fact that she feels this amount of fear. For any member of our community to feel this way is a disservice.

As strongly as I feel about necessary police reform, I also don’t believe we need to defund any part of it for another. This is not an and/or scenario. It’s a both/and.

I strongly support more beat cop-type engagement that is outside the squad and among the people. But we can’t be too narrow-minded to believe that more engagement can be accomplished with less funding.

I do believe in my council members’ judgement to make the right decision on this matter, and hope that whatever it is, it can provide this woman some peace.

Dustin Ruff