Post by Jeff Skrenes, Hawthorne Neighborhood Council housing director. Photo by Constance Nompelis.
I wish I could have attended today's press conference, but I already began today calling in sick to work because of a stomach illness. That feeling was intensely compounded upon hearing of the tragic death of three-year-old Terrell Lamont Mayes Jr. Words simply cannot express the sorrow and outrage that we all feel. A baby is dead because someone had a stupid, foolish dispute that they had to settle with a gun. In a year wherein Minneapolis has seen the age of shooting victims get younger and younger, this is about as heartbreaking as it gets.
At the press conference, we were told "the community has a job to do." Even while we mourn, there will surely be hard work ahead for all of us. One small job we can do is to call in graffiti to 311 or remove it ourselves. Send the message to those who would do such a thing that these streets, these homes, this community does not belong to them. This is a good neighborhood and a strong community, and now is when we show what we're made of.
On the same block where this shooting occurred, there is a vacant house with various graffiti that appears to be gang-related. I wish I had seen this before and called it in, but a fellow north Minneapolis resident sent the picture my way. It may be hard to see, but one part of the defacement says "Haywood City." Many Hawthorne residents have quickly speculated that this refers to Haywood Eaton, another youth who was killed by gunfire in Hawthorne several years ago. Another possibility is that it refers to an alias of the infamous Evannor Haymon, who was the scourge of the Hawthorne EcoVillage and sometimes used "Haywood" as a last name.
Gang-related graffiti is troublesome anywhere it rears its ugly head, but on a block where this tragedy occurred, this particular tagging is especially ominous. We've called it in to 311 and asked that priority be given to its removal. As we pick up the pieces after this week's event, let us start by comforting those who grieve and then begin to take back our streets to show that this is not a place where such acts are tolerated in the least.