St. Paul community looks for grassroots solutions after uptick in violence

Thursday, a small group of community members came together at a local YMCA for a night of healing following a stretch of violence. The city has seen five homicides since Labor Day with three of them in a nine-hour period Monday night.

"We’re looking at where our power is," said community activist Ayolanda Evans. "Where is our collective power? What can we do in our homes? What can we do as a community?"

The gathering was one of many grassroots meetings that have come together since Tuesday, as neighbors in St. Paul look for solutions. 

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said the recent violence is unlike anything he’s ever seen, with this year marking the highest number of people injured by gunfire that he can remember.

"We have an issue today that we didn’t have 30 years ago when I became a police officer," he said. "And that’s young people who are settling their disputes with guns."

Ayolanda Evans wants to make a change in St. Paul.

While Axtell says much of the violence is gang-related, Evans said gang affiliation is more of a result than a cause.

"If we want to see a reduction in gun violence then we have to look at resourcing our communities which includes jobs," said Evans. "It includes adequate education, community gatherings like this one… legislative action.”

"The family who lost the loved one is going through a process," added community member Shaundelle Darris. "The person who committed the crime is going through a process, and then you have the community who doesn’t always get looked at. How do we fix it? How do we make it better?”