Community members mobilize amid lingering chaos in Uptown
On Thursday, the Minneapolis Police Department said it would be setting up additional patrols in the Uptown area, effective immediately, and is ready to call for help from other departments if needed this weekend.
Community members are also taking steps to try to revitalize the area.
“We are trying to give hope to the community. Please don’t give up,” said Marvin Applewhite.
Applewhite is coordinating the cleanup efforts at the base along Lake Street.
He started removing graffiti and picking up trash on his own after the riots last summer.
Applewhite continues to visit the community daily to clean up anything that was left over the night before.
He said he often started picking up trash on his own at 6 a.m.
Three days a week, he takes a group of five teenagers to help paint graffiti and clean debris from streets and alleys.
He is able to pay teenagers a weekly allowance thanks to donations from this GoFundMe page.
“I have to walk these streets. I have to look around and I have to think, ‘Well this is where I live and it’s dirty where I live’ and I don’t want to think that. said Da ‘Niel, a 13-year-old from Minneapolis who joined the cleanup group. “So I’m helping my city get cleaner. It’s not really that hard either. It’s just simple, doing good deeds.”
Applewhite said many nearby businesses have offered their crew free meals while they work.
He uses lunchtime with the teens to have conversations about their emotions surrounding the unrest, allowing them to understand what is going on in the city.
Uptown businesses told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that crime and violence have become a serious concern.
“We’re just a little on our toes, worried about what’s going to happen next,” said Jamie Liestman, manager of John Fluevog Shoes on Hennepin Avenue.
Liestman walked into his shop Thursday morning to find that a window had been smashed.
“This neighborhood is crumbling around me and it’s really sad,” Liestman said. “I don’t know what to do. I’m at the end of my rope.”
Liestman said she now carries pepper spray and an umbrella with her every day, as a means of protection if needed. The store keeps its doors locked, so customers must ring the bell to enter. Liestman said it was one of the security measures implemented after the riots last summer. They chose to keep it in place this summer because of the lingering issues.
She said local business owners regularly communicate about safety issues and try to alert each other to potential issues.
“I just want to be a business and sell shoes and have people come to my store and feel safe. It’s been a challenge,” Liestman said.
Liestman said community groups, like MAD DADS, have been more responsive to their pleas for help than their elected officials.
Grassroots efforts, like Applewhite’s clean-up crews, will also continue for as long as needed.
“I wish he could grow up. I always tell people, if you like what we do, you can come and help us and make it bigger,” Applewhite said. “I hope when you walk down Lake Street at the end of the summer you will see less graffiti. As long as we are here keep painting, keep cleaning, we fuel hope.”
Applewhite is planning a community cleanup effort on Saturday morning, asking people to meet at the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street around 9:30 a.m., with the cleanup scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. If you would like to donate to these efforts, Click here.