Minneapolis launches 'MinneapolUS' Street Outreach Team to curb gun violence

Fatemah Green says her family’s stomach has been in knots since her nephew, 17-year-old Andre Conley, was shot outside of a convenience store on the city’s northside on Sept. 14.  

“We have never experienced this kind of violence in our family,” said Green.  

As the family and city mourns Conley’s death, Green is using her grief to make sure other families never feel her pain.  

She has teamed with a group of residents by joining a new program that aims to curb gun violence in Minneapolis neighborhoods called “MinneapolUS.” 

MinneapolUS is a street outreach team led by the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention (OVP).  

“We’re just really concerned with making a difference and seeing a lasting impact and change with the youth,” said Jalilia Abdul-Brown, a volunteer with MinneapolUS.   

The teams are made up of men and women who have "survived the streets and the struggle of urban living."

“What MinneapolUS strategic outreach brings to the table is having outreach workers whose sole purpose is to think about how we prevent the next shooting and interrupt the patterns of retaliatory violence?” Sasha Cotton, Director of the Minneapolis OVP, told FOX 9.

“Many of the violent incidents we see in our city and cities across the country are deeply rooted in personal conflict.”  

Cotton said what makes this outreach program different than others is that it’s using a personal touch and developing meaningful relationships with residents to steer them down a path towards success.  

“Building relationships through food distribution, for example, is a great way to get the conversation started to ask more questions about why they’re beefing with the group up the street?” Cotton added. “Building that rapport […] can lead to that conversation on ‘what if we can help you get a job? Or what if we can help get you back in school?’”  

Muhammad Abdul-Ahad has lived in Minneapolis for more than 30 years.  He says he is volunteering with MinneapolUS because he doesn't want to worry about the safety of his loved ones.  

“Peace and safety,” Abdul-Ahad said when asked about his vision for Minneapolis in the next five years. “I just want our kids to be able to go outside and go to the corner store without worrying about if they will make it home safely.”

The Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention is funding this new program from the nearly $1 million the City Council voted to extract from the city police department's budget earlier this year.