When we first moved to south Minneapolis, Kate and I asked our landlord what the neighborhood was like. He told us that it’s nice, but that five years ago it was a different story. For example, residents got mugged walking through Powderhorn Park (about five blocks away), and the convenience store two blocks from our apartment would get robbed on a daily basis. These things still happen, just not with the frequency with which they occurred in the past. Still, some even hairier shit has taken place in our neighborhood over the last month.
There have been nights we’ve heard what sounds like the crack of gunfire. We’ve passed it off as fireworks, mainly because police sirens never follow. One night, I heard three quick pops in the distance. They were too quick in procession and sounded too tinny to be M-80s or Black Cats. But again, sirens didn’t follow. So I passed it off as nothing.
The next day, a story ran in the Strib about a drive-by, six blocks away. A 12 year-old girl was shot in the neck outside of her house. She’s now paralyzed, and the outlook of her ever walking again looks grim. The reported time of the drive-by matched the time I heard those pops.
Then, while my mom was in town for Thanksgiving, news broke that four teens sexually assaulted a 45 year-old woman in front of her two children in Powderhorn Park. Afterward, three of the teens forced two teenage girls into a garage a few blocks away from the first incident and unsuccessfully attempted to rape them.
The bad news didn’t stop there. Days later, there was a story about a standoff nearby, where a man held a woman hostage for hours. Sixty police, SWAT, and EMT responded. And then US Marshalls tracked down an Iowa murder suspect to a residence in south Minneapolis. They found him hiding in a closet within the apartment.
Despite the fact that these stories make our neighborhood seem dangerous, I don't feel unsafe. I know, you're probably thinking: a man pushing six-two, two-forty shouldn't be scared. Well, let me tell you, I'm no man. And I'm a very soft two-forty.
Walking around the area, I've never gotten the sense that any moment someone's going to jump out and attack me or Kate. Plus, Kate's tough. She's a biker (of the cycling variety), which means she's got some powerful legs. And she carries a switchblade: so watch your balls, would-be attackers!
I guess there are certain times I wouldn't want to go venturing into Powderhorn Park; but for the most part, it's a very scenic place where parents bring their children to play. Which made news of the assault there so alarming to the neighborhood's residents. It was an isolated incident, and the response to the attacks turned out to be a reclamation of a park by its community. With the exception of the drive-by, all of the suspects in each respective story have been arrested. Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm not fearful for Kate's or my safety.
Here's what I do worry about:
- Kate riding her bike in the street. Not because I don't trust her ability, but because I don't trust the asshole drivers or the condition of some roads that make up her routes to and from work.
- Pitbulls. In this area there are a lot of pitbull owners, some of whom don't own big enough fences to contain their dogs. In one case, I walked by this dude's house in the middle of the afternoon to see him watching over five of these beasts. The perimeter of his yard was lined by small trees--which were bare because of the season, allowing enough of a gap for even the biggest pitbull to fit through. Four of the dogs were free to roam the yard; only one was on a leash. They all eyed me and licked their chops as I passed by, none more viciously than the one in restraint.