Help Me, Help You

Ah, Jerry Maguire. Remember that movie? Can you believe that it came out in 1996?

If I could sum up the meeting that we had yesterday with the St Cloud’s Mayor and St. Cloud’s Police Chief, it would look something like this:

In our meeting, Tom Cruise was played by Mayor Kleis and Cheif Anderson. Haji Yussef, a friend of #unitecloud, gathered us together at this meeting to talk to our elected leaders about everything from vandalism to verbal assault. Props must be given to both of these gentleman for taking a meeting with us not even 24 hours after we asked for it. For that we say THANK YOU and also, BRAVO!

I want to give you quotes from our Mayor and our Chief that will shed light into the heart they both have for our city, what they (and their offices) are doing to keep us safe, and how we can come alongside and help them.

Police and Mayor

*From now on in this article, Police Chief Anderson will be referred to as CA and Mayor Kleis will be referred to as MK. 

IN REGARDS TO THE CARS BEING VANDALIZED

CA – “We spoke with the people who made threats on Facebook, and our CCIT (Community Crime Impact Team) determined that, at this time, there is not a link between the threats and the car vandalism.”

MK – “My own car was vandalized recently. We take all vandalism seriously, because public safety is our concern.”

CA – “We looked to see if there was any ‘tagging’ in this vandalism but, saw none. Usually they want to leave their mark if it is targeted towards a certain group.”

CA – “When we find out what happened with the vandalism, we will put that out as a media release.”

IN REGARDS TO POOR COMMUNITY RELATIONS IN ST CLOUD

MK – “Create Community was a mayoral initiative in the 90’s – Mayor Meyer and the community came together to form this group. It is an initiative that brings together all of the pillars of our community – CentraCare, school districts, our faith community, Chamber of Commerce, SCSU, SCTC, etc. Their main goal is to dismantle systemic racism. They want to be seen as a catalyst for conversation. They are currently running a series of articles in the St. Cloud Times Opinion section. I talk about this group because it is broader than the city office. They work towards a welcoming community. Please join them for their annual conversation on race on October 20th.”

MK – “I want to see a strong, healthy, vibrant community.  We are running radio ads about public safety right now. There will be a radio ad coming soon with the chief and I saying that we should get to know our neighbors for a better community. Also, we’ve added community service officers to bridge gaps – both proactively and re-actively.”

MK – “This is not a dictatorship, this is a community. This will take all of us in St Cloud.”

MK – “I have meetings with people who don’t like you guys because your skin is brown. They say nasty, hateful stuff and they back it up with “patriotism”. When someone says “They shouldn’t be here” – the mayor and I say: “That is unconstitutional. And that’s not right.”

IN REGARDS TO FACEBOOK HATE SPEECH

CA  –  “We try to see where it is coming from. Most of the time, (when we question the people who say these things), people just say ‘Oh, I was just blowing off steam.’ Yes, we put extra resources in the area but legally, it (usually) doesn’t go to the line of terrorist threats. But, we still keep an eye on it the few days proceeding the threats.”

IN REGARDS TO HOW WE CAN HELP THE POLICE TO CREATE A SAFE COMMUNITY

CA – “Sometimes we don’t know about things until someone calls us, while sometimes we catch stuff on our regular patrols.”

MK – “It’s great that you are here. But, let’s be proactive about this. Come to my weekly town hall meeting. I am also looking for people to be on boards or commissions.”

CA – “If a victim of a crime is having a hard time with anything, call us. We could point them to resource information, mostly at the state level. We also give out blue resource cards when we go out on calls.”

CA – “Call 911. You can remain anonymous. Call 911 if it is an emergency. If not, talk to our CCIT (mentioned previously) group to be proactive. Or, call our non-emergency number. Let’s be proactive. We can’t do this without you. We can’t get this done without everybody’s help.”

IN REGARDS TO SOMALI/MUSLIM WOMEN FEELING AFRAID TO WALK DOWN THEIR STREET

CA – “Trust me, look at my skin. I know how you feel and what you hear. Some people don’t have any regard for others that are not like them.”

CA – “We’ve all encountered bullies. You can choose to expose them or ignore them. I hear things when I’m not in uniform. But, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you are called, it only matters what you answer to. That’s what my mother and father taught me. Don’t let ignorant people drive you crazy.”

WHAT IS THE CITY DOING TO CONTINUE TO BETTER ITSELF

MK – “We will hold accountable all that do not obey the laws in this community. Next year there will be online crime data available – it is a massive IT upgrade.”

CA – “We present crime data several times a year – both at the council and through the media.”

MK – “We are budgeting for a crime lab so we can solve crime faster in this city.”

AND, FINALLY….

Let’s take these words to heart that were spoken at the meeting by one of our Somali neighbors:

“The police are doing their part. They investigate, they help the community. This community needs to work together. We need more communication in the community. We need more meetings and more outreach so we can talk to each other and get to know each other. This city is improving. This will not be a utopic society. When someone does a crime – that is police work. We need to work with them. We need more communication – not it a harsh way. Let us foster reconciliation.

We have to be patient. We have to be vigilant.”

#unitecloud

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.