Gang violence survivor makes Juneteenth return to place she was shot 2 years ago
In June 2021, Gloria Howard was a part of a push for peace in North Minneapolis when she was caught in the crossfire of gang violence.
Howard, on Saturday, returned to the place where she was shot — near Merwin Liquors at the corner of W Broadway and N Lyndale Ave — for the first time since, this time to celebrate the Juneteenth holiday with her community.
“I just happened to be one of the casualties in the area,” Howard shared from her booth at the Juneteenth Family Festival.
“It was really scary, and I never expected that I would be the one to get hit.”
She was working with 21 Days of Peace two summers ago when someone driving by shot toward the liquor store, hitting her.
“And actually, two weeks prior to that, there was a young lady that had been shot in the head right at the liquor store,” Howard recalled.
Two years later, she set up a booth for her North Minneapolis business, The Root Pathway LLC, one intersection away on W Broadway.
“Whereas before I was just out here,” Howard said. “Now I’m out here but I also have to think in the back of my mind and be aware, and especially being on the corner.”
Minnesota Attorney general Keith Ellison, last month, announced he would not take action against Merwin Liquours and nearby Winner Gas Station after a months-long investigation found that crime in the area had begun to decline.
Earlier in May, federal prosecutors announced the indictment of 45 Minneapolis gang members.
“But we’ve still got these young ones coming up, and they were the ones looking up to them, so who do you think is going to pick up that mantle and try to do what they saw them doing?” Howard reacted.
“So that’s my concern.”
Event organizer Shemeka Bogan with the Strong Roots Foundation recognized the efforts to improve safety in the area surrounding the weekend Juneteenth festivities.
“It’s not a secret that W Broadway has been a bit of a busy intersection, especially Lyndale and W Broadway has been a busy intersection and a busy area for a lot of the violence over the last several years,” Bogan said, adding, “We don’t let that deter us from coming out here and doing things.”
For Bogan, it was a day to look forward and a celebration of the first year that Juneteenth was officially recognized as a holiday in the state of Minnesota.
“It’s about freedom, it’s about acknowledgment,” she said.
“It’s about, you know, not just dwelling on the past and the history, but acknowledging it, and you know, how that plays into today. So it’s all together.”
“It’s a part of who I am,” Howard added.
“I’m just connected to my ancestry and my heritage, which connects me to the community, and that’s what I’m about, and I’ll die this way really.”
Reuniting with her community Saturday was important to Howard before she moves out of state at the end of the month to be closer to family.
She’ll be back to share her story in her upcoming book “Never Stop Dreaming” in the fall, she said.
The Juneteenth Family Festival continues Sunday in North Minneapolis.