'We need to feel the sun on our face': Twin Cities events promote community healing

two people embrace each other
DejaJoelle and her niece, Zion Davis, embrace during a community healing event at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul on Saturday. DejaJoelle led eventgoers in meditation and healing affirmations.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

Coordinated events held Saturday in the Twin Cities aimed to support people traumatized by the recent killing of Daunte Wright, and the police response to subsequent protests.

One of the gatherings took place in Brooklyn Center, at the site where Wright was fatally shot by police last weekend. The others were at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, and J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul.

a woman with eyes closed and hand on heart
ShaVunda Brown places her hand on her heart and tips her head to the sun during a community healing event at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School on Saturday. Brown helped organize the event.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

There were prayer circles, a chance for people to express themselves through art, and opportunities to process trauma from the past week in the Twin Cities, which also includes the ongoing Derek Chauvin trial.

ShaVunda Brown helped organize the St. Paul event, which drew several dozen people. She stressed the need for healing spaces.

people raise their arms to sky
Community members raise their arms to sky as they stand in a circle and participate in a community healing event in St. Paul.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

"One thing that happens that can be really detrimental is self-isolation during these times," she said. "We start doing self-destructive activities because we're trying to cope, when really what we need is to feel the sun on our face, to get a massage, to be in community, talk with community, create music with community."

Brown called for reforming or abolishing police, which she said was a necessary step for moving forward in the Twin Cities.

two signs one orange and one yellow
Signs posted along the fence of the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul during a community healing event on Saturday.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

DejaJoelle led a prayer circle at the St. Paul event, which drew families with children to be guided in healing affirmations in the school's garden.

Her advice for young people is to take time to rest and unpack their emotions.

a child holds a sandwhich
ShaVunda Brown and her daughter Lola take a moment to eat during a community healing event at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School.
Kathryn Styer Martinez | MPR News

"Touch your heart and let your heart tell you, and show you and make you feel that you are absolutely divine," she said, speaking to Twin Cities youth. "You are supposed to be here. You are doing the best you can. You are deserving of all good — not some good, not a little bit of good, but all good. You are protected. You are guided. You are boundless. You are limitless. You are nothing less than chosen. Ase."

Saturday's gatherings were coordinated by Tru Ruts and the Healing Justice Foundation, along with community partners.

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