St. Paul anti-violence activists plead for killing to stop

Anti-violence activist Dora Jones-Robinson
Anti-violence activist Dora Jones-Robinson called on the St. Paul community to stop the violence after a 23-year-old woman was shot to death last week.
Jon Collins | MPR News

A small group of anti-violence activists gathered in the parking lot of a strip club in St. Paul Friday afternoon to mourn a young woman who was shot to death there last weekend.

Nia Black, 23, was shot to death outside the Lamplighter Lounge around 1 a.m. last Saturday. Anti-violence activist Dora Jones-Robinson called for violence to end, despite the pressures of the pandemic and protests against the killing of George Floyd.

“We do understand what’s wrong, we ain’t foreign to this, we know that we’ve been unjustly done in America,” Jones-Robinson said. “We’re crying out to our community to put down the guns, stop killing one another, try to love on each other, even in the midst of the pain that we’re going through in America today.”

The focus on violence by police officers against black men doesn’t mean that people should care less about violence within the community, said Pastor Runney Patterson of New Hope Baptist Church in St. Paul.

“I want to go to graduation services, not to continue to do funerals. I want to do weddings and not continue to do funerals,” Patterson said. “As a pastor, I am tired of burying young black men.”

Police have received more than twice as many reports of shots fired in St. Paul in 2020 compared to mid-June last year. There have already been 12 fatal shootings in St. Paul this year, while the city set a record in 2019 with 18 for the entire year, according to the department’s preliminary numbers.

The city of Minneapolis also appears to be experiencing a surge in gun violence, with 290 calls for service for shots fired in the last week, compared to just 115 calls during the same time period last year, according to the city’s data. There have been 18 homicides in Minneapolis so far this year, according to department crime data.

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