Resource center opens at troubled Minneapolis intersection that's making a transformation

A resource center at one of Minneapolis' most troubled intersections appears to be making a difference as the area with a reputation for violence is starting to make some real progress towards peace.

The group "We Push for Peace" has helped to rid the intersection at West Broad and Lyndale Avenue North of shootings and gang activity, and now they've opened up a resource center right next to Merwin's Liquor.

It might seem strange that next to a liquor store is a brand-new resource center that helps with self-improvement. But the CEO of We Push for Peace says it's actually the perfect place.

On Thursday, the group held a small celebration for two people who just got their commercial driver's license (CDL) permit through We Push for Peace. The group pays for the classroom and behind-the-wheel training, which can cost thousands of dollars.

"I met them, I was just walking downtown, and they were talking to me about We Push for Peace and the different jobs they had, and they mentioned CDL, and I was like, well, that's kinda perfect," explained SheeNita Johnson, one of the two people who got their new license.

"Just to try something different, just to challenge myself, see if I was capable of doing it," added Saaundre Burns, the other person to get their CDL.

Employment is just one of the areas where We Push for Peace helps. "We employ, we employ. As a matter of fact, I have a young lady coming in right now that's fitting to do an interview for a job," explained Trahern Pollard.

The new resource center at Broadway and Lyndale also offers help with work readiness, chemical dependency, mental health, housing, and youth outreach. While Lyndale and Broadway might be known for shootings and violence, since We Push has started managing Merwin's and establishing a permanent presence, that's changed.

FOX 9 looked at calls for service dating back to July 2022, including narcotics, assaults, and shootings. When We Push comes in around October, it's almost nothing but "business checks," a proactive way Minneapolis police checks on things.

The same is true for the Winner Gas Station across the street. It was known as the "Murder Station." Fourth Precinct Inspector Charlie Adams says the success has been We Push for Peace, plus several other efforts as well.

"With our mobile footbeats over here and Operation Endeavor, I think everybody's working together with the West Broadway Coalition, we've been able to stop a lot of stuff that's been going on here," explained Adams.

But even though violence has subsided at Broadway and Lyndale, the issues and need for help have not. That's why We Push for Peace is here, ready and waiting to help.

"You can open a resource center, but people won't come if they don't feel safe," says Pollard. "So we wanted to take care of the safety part first. Now, people can come here and get the resources they need and feel safe doing it."

Right now, We Push for Peace doesn't own Merwin's or the building, but there are plans in the works to change that. When it's all said and done, Pollard says we will see an even bigger presence here.