National Night Out brings mixed emotions to Fulton neighborhood

There were more than 1500 block parties registered for National Night Out in Minneapolis alone.

But this year's event comes at a difficult time in the city's recent history.

On a warm summer night, neighbors in south Minneapolis are getting to know one another, but while National Night out usually has a festive atmosphere, there is a more somber tone under the surface.

"[The police shooting of Justine Damond] has definitely been on our mind," block party organizer Melissa Thornton said. "It was very unfortunate event. We're very saddened by it." 

Her gathering is just three blocks from where Justine Damond was shot and killed by a Minneapolis Police officer after reporting a possible sexual assault in the alley behind her house about two weeks ago.

People who live in the neighborhood say the shooting has shaken their sense of security and trust in police training while acknowledging the difficult job officers face every day.

"It really touched home because we feel like it could have been us. But we also appreciate the police and all they do to keep us safe. It's unfortunate for everybody," Thornton said.

Acting Police Chief Medaria Arradondo planned to make a dozen stops during his first National Night Out as the department's top cop.

While many have been critical of several recent police shootings, Arradondo says he's also hearing from residents who are offering their support.

"There are going to be times when there is tension and conflict and those aren't necessarily bad things. They are coming from voices that support us and want us to do better," Arradondo said.

While Damond's neighbors hope justice is served for Justine, they believe just being together will help build a better community.

"I know there is no easy answer but hopefully we can figure something out," Thornton said.