Faith leaders share success of St. Paul violence prevention efforts but say city has long way to go |

Faith leaders share success of St. Paul violence prevention efforts but say city has long way to go

Jay Kolls
Updated: July 06, 2021 11:00 PM
Created: July 06, 2021 10:55 PM

Another "21 Days of Peace" campaign started in the Twin Cities on Tuesday in an effort to curb violent crime.

In the first iteration, faith leaders, community activists and police came together to flood crime "hot spots" from May 28 to June 17. Early indications in Minneapolis showed those hot spots saw a significant decrease in shots fired during that time.

So far this year in St. Paul, homicides are down 29% compared to the same time in 2020, and aggravated assaults are also down 3%. But the number of people injured by gunfire and the total number of shots fired both increased.

The Rev. Runney Patterson, a pastor at New Hope Baptist Church, said a call went out to a diverse array of faith leaders to go out in the community. He said dozens of volunteers answered the call.

"... We just decided that we had to get outside of our church walls, get into our community, try to bring a sense of compassion, but also concern," Patterson said. "Let them know that enough is enough."

The Rev. Darryl Spence, who is part of the St. Paul God Squad, said police told him gunfire and violent crimes went down in all seven targeted hot spots in the Capital City during the first 21 Days of Peace.

"And, people literally — even Cmdr. [Kurt] Hallstrom, who worked with us all the time — came and told us, he said, 'Man, the numbers are down, things are looking better, store owners are happy, residents are happy,'" Spence said.

But even though the first 21 Days of Peace went well, Spence says there is a long way to go.

"It's been a tough, tough couple of years. And ... last week I buried a 20-year-old that was shot, Javon Malone, and that was terrible," he said. "Tomorrow, I have to bury someone who shot themself — a suicide. Our community is hurting."

The second phase of 21 Days of Peace runs July 6-21. Within those dates, there will be a community-wide "Peace Walk" to help bring neighborhoods together to support the cause.

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