Welcome to North Minneapolis, Mr. President

The President of the United States was in town today, speaking just 10 blocks from where I work, across the street from a colleague's home where I occasionally drive him and his children to after school. Now, it's not a big deal that the President was in Minnesota or even Minneapolis. This happens often enough, it seems. But it is a pretty big deal that he was in our neighborhood--in North Minneapolis.

North Minneapolis does not often get portrayed in a good way in the media--and often it seems like our racial socio-economic demographics are the cause. We do have our share of crime. In the almost three years since we've lived here I experienced and attempted robbery once, my wife got her bike stolen from our garage, and most recently our shovel was stolen from our back door. To be fair, I should point out that I had money from my wallet stolen at least two times in junior high and high school while my clothes were in a locker during away basketball games in small town Iowa.

President Obama was here to discuss gun control issues. We are in an area effected by gun violence. We've seen several families lose young children by getting shot, often as unintended victims. Minneapolis police average taking one illegal gun off the streets each day. I do think there should be more enforcement of existing laws as well as stricter regulations on assault weapons (while allowing freedoms for hunting and such), but I'm not writing this to get into the gun control debate. I just think it's pretty cool that the President would come to a neighborhood that much of the rest of the city looks down upon.

I was at school while it all happened (I only heard about it's location because my colleague had a hard time getting to school today because of the increased security around his house). I haven't seen the news coverage of the event yet. I've heard of a few friends who went to try and see a glimpse of the President. I haven't seen as much coverage overall as I would expect. The news just came on, and the event was largely pushed aside for local gun control debates. But it's a big deal here.

I am acutely aware of the division over approval of the President.  Regardless of how what you think of him, it's still pretty cool to have the President of the United States a few blocks away. I enjoyed being aware while outside at recess of how near our nation's leader was.

The picture to the right was posted on our local hardware store's facebook page. The officer sitting next to the President is one we see in our neighborhood occasionally. He, along with another colleague, started a Bike Cops for Kids program, bicycling through the neighborhood, handing out bike helmets to kids in need.

Like any neighborhood, there are good things going on here. There are also many things that can improve. What matters most is a willingness to move forward together and not to get stuck in the negative stereotypes that others impose.

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