public statement from the family assaulted in the park 11/23
From: Alexandra Ellison Date: 6:40pm, Nov 28, 2010
Powderhorn Neighbors - I am posting this message for my friend so she and her family can respond, yet retain their privacy. *We Survived Grandly, We're Blessed with an Abundance of Support and Love* First of all I want to tell you what a strange experience I have as I read the postings on this forum and read the news reports of the incident that my children and I experienced. When we get talked about in the third person it seems like they're talking about someone else and then I get scared for those people they are talking about and then I realize they're talking about me! I never thought I'd ever have this experience and I sure would have liked to have made the news for some other reason! Second, I want to tell you that my children and I are doing quite well considering that we had a gun held to our chests only three days ago. On Thanksgiving, the day after the incident, my children said two things to me that give me hope for their healing and I would like to share what they said with you. I was trying to reassure the kids by telling them that they were safe since the boys who did this were in jail. My son replied, "That's too bad. They didn't know what they were doing. Now they don't get to have the life of fun that I have." I'm pretty amazed at his compassion and understanding. And my daughter said later in the day of her brother, "I was annoyed at him because he was kicking the couch while we were sitting, but I didn't want to say anything because I'm so happy to have him." I have a lot to learn from my kids about staying in touch with what really matters in life. We sure got a profound lesson in having gratitude for just being alive. And don't worry, they have quickly fallen back to their habits of bickering with each other, which I see as a sure sign they are moving on and getting back to normalcy. I have so much gratitude for the friends and neighbors who supported us with such care and love after the incident. Wow what a great neighborhood we live in. And I hold dear to my heart the police officers who answered our call. They showed me a dedication to serving the people of their precinct. I'm amazed at the perseverance and care of the officer who followed the boys' tracks in the snow and managed to be there when the two girls had pushed off their attackers and run away. The girls ran right into the two officers who were tracking the sneaker prints. I do want to correct one major inaccuracy in the news that I have read. None of us were raped, to the best of my knowledge. Yes, I was sexually assaulted but the girls did manage to fight off the boys and escape before anything happened. I really have a huge repulsion at the labeling of us as victims. I see us as strong and capable of taking charge of our safety. I find it ironic to have had this experience as I currently study nonviolence, restorative justice and the healing of childhood trauma. I got to put my studies and my practice of mindfulness into play as the incident unfolded. The whole time I made a conscious choice to see the boys as human beings, not to see them as evil or bad. I focus my attention not on the boys' actions but the pain behind their actions. I see those boys as hurting, scared children who didn't get the kind of nurture, love and care that they needed. I try to hold them now in compassion and hope that they might get the support they need to reconnect to their essential goodness. With the system of justice that we currently use, I'm hopeless that will happen. I want to say too that I do also hold a lot of fear in my body in response to the trauma and I want to acknowledge that a lot of people now feel fear as a result of what happened to us. This event was huge and it will continue to have a huge impact on all of us in this community. I do hope for myself though to take the awesome energy of my fear and channel it into finding ways to support precious beings that come into this world to get all the love, fun, and nurture that is their birthright. I won't let my fear however keep me from enjoying our beautiful park and neighborhood. The park is a refuge for me from the hustle and bustle of the city. It connects me to nature and creativity. Our family has enjoyed so many riches here: pottery classes at the park, the May Day Parade, the art festival, the art sled rally, the Animal Convergence, picnics, fishing off the dock, the Empty Bowls fundraiser, skating on the lake, birdwatching, foraging for mushrooms, the playgrounds, laying on the grass and looking at the sky, the list goes on and on. Thank you all for making this such a great place to live. I guess I might fall into despair, hopelessness and hatred sometime along my healing journey, but I can honestly say I don't experience them right now. My spiritual practices ground me in love and possibility. I see that a vigil has been scheduled for Wednesday night. Please take this as an opportunity to celebrate our riches. I would love it if people came out to sing, dance, ski, sled, play Frisbee, etc. Let's make it a celebration of our community and our park! At one point the boys asked for our skis. I wish they could have taken them and used them and experienced the pure joy of gliding in the fresh snow, getting winded from exertion and breathing in cool, fresh air. Please send them all the love you can muster. I think they really need it. I just heard this Cat Stevens song < for the first time. You might indulge me by listening to it. The third stanza from the end really spoke to me today. It says, "I'm glad I'm alive, am I; I'm glad I'm alive, am I; I'm glad I'm alive, I'm glad I'm alive; I'm glad I'm alive, am I." That really says it all for me. As I read back what I've written I'm a bit embarrassed, because find it a bit long-winded and preachy but it's the best I can come up with at this time. In gratitude and amazement, the "mother" in the news
From: leigh combs Date: 6:49pm, Nov 28, 2010
thank you so much for this amazing letter lots of thoughts and prayers for all love - compassion - strength fear must not win peace & love leigh combs
From: Michael Kehoe Date: 7:06pm, Nov 28, 2010
Thank you so much for speaking to the community about this incident. I am filled with amazement over your and your family's ability to process this event. At our home we, too, we have been thinking about the boys involved and how they have grown to a place where this attack is something they would not only consider doing, but follow through with and do. It does seem that all parties involved are victims, one way or another. Our very best wishes to you and your family. Michael Kehoe 34xx 11th Ave. S.
From: Liz Tufte Date: 10:03pm, Nov 28, 2010
Thank you for this. I'm trying to articulate in words my response, but it feels pre-verbal. I'm astounded by the power of love and the strength of your spirit, and I'm so grateful to be part of a community like ours. I would like to share an excerpt from Joy Harjo's poem, "I Give You Back" : I release you, fear ... I release you I release you I release you I release you I am not afraid to be angry. I am not afraid to rejoice. I am not afraid to be black. I am not afraid to be white. I am not afraid to be hungry. I am not afraid to be full. I am not afraid to be hated. I am not afraid to be loved. to be loved, to be loved, fear ... I take myself back, fear. You are not my shadow any longer. I won't hold you in my hands. You can't live in my eyes, my ears, my voice my belly, or in my heart my heart my heart my heart But come here, fear I am alive and you are so afraid of dying.
From: Karen Kingsley Date: 12:49am, Nov 29, 2010
Thank you so much for this amazing message, of hope and of love. It helps me to remember that there are many, many good things happening in our neighborhood and our world and inspires me to keep trying to make things better for more of us. Karen Kingsley
From: Morgan Brooke Date: 1:38am, Nov 29, 2010
I just read your letter to the community and I am so proud to live in a neighborhood with people with such open hearts and spiritual udrstanding. I have long had the same philosophy -- but I can only hope to hold onto my beliefs when put to a test. I can rephrase the flyer to not use the word victim--another belief I inherited from people with aids in the 80s and 90s. Persons who survived the attacks may be better. I think I'll be able to revise the flyer and the handout for wednesday just from reading your letter -- but if there is something you want to say send a note though Alexandra Ellison again. Again thank you so much for your message. Morgan
From: marlene freeman Date: 2:29am, Nov 29, 2010
Thank you so much for sharing your story. I and my daughter were apprehended when she was 18 years old. I was sexually assaulted in front of her. This happened in 1989 near Pleasant and 26th Avenue. We were both held at gunpoint and also robbed. When there were four more assaults in the neighborhood, it was reported as news. It is indeed strange to hear our story on the news and read it in the paper. The landlord ousted us for alerting the women in the neighborhood and hanging the sketch of him on the bulletin board. That was a very sad reaction and when I moved I did send him a letter about his behavior and it's effect on the safety of women. I wanted to move anyhow so I thought perhaps a letter might have come at a 'teachable moment.' Both I and my daughter were treated well by the detectives and were given free counseling after the incident. He was never caught. I wanted him locked up before he could hurt more women and yet never felt much animosity towards him. It took a bit of time to heal for both of us. When talking later with my daughter about our ordeal, we found that we were both of the same mind just survive. We felt a huge 'rush' of joy to be alive as we got back to our apartment door. Many of us women share this same experience. Sexual assault is not reported in the news unless there are three or more incidents in the same area. There are many reported rapes and even more unreported sexual assaults. It is a shame that it is a large possibility that we, as women, could be attacked most anywhere. Through the years, I've integrated the experience into my life and expressed my gratefulness for my life by supporting other women who have had similar experiences. I've always been open about the experience and that opens the door for others to share their experiences. The sexual assault was an attempt to degrade me, but my self-respect is not negotiable; It is mine. Again, thank you for sharing and I hope that this incident will also bring some meaningful opportunities in your life. It is wise to let the feelings rise and fall, yet never get stuck in the anger and fear because then we are still victims. Instead we can relish the strength to heal and the power it brings.
From: Steven Clift Date: 4:46pm, Nov 29, 2010
I want to thank you for sharing your story directly with the community gathered here. I wanted to note that your letter to the community was picked up by the StarTribune.com today - http://www.startribune.com/local/110948624.html - and it is among the top ten viewed articles. They also link to the post and the site. (Thank you Strib.) This is introducing many more neighbors to the forum as they are joining here and hopefully at the vigil as well. Minnesota Public Radio also has a short story: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/11/29/powderhorn-attack-folo/ (I asked them to add a link to your full words.) For those visiting this forum from other neighborhoods, note the list of neighborhoods where volunteers have stepped forward to make similar online spaces possible: http://e-democracy.org/nf Having a space where neighbors can connect on good things and bad is something everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from when needed. Steven Clift E-Democracy.org
From: Cathy Osmundson Date: 7:24pm, Nov 29, 2010
Thoughts, prayers, strength and healing to all involved.
From: Michelle Johnson Date: 9:39pm, Nov 29, 2010
The boys that were responsible for this attack should not be handled with kid gloves. However, the parents of these boys should also be held responsible. I am tired of poverty being blamed for lack of morals. I have lived in South Minneapolis for over 20 years. I grew up in central MN, met and married a man from St. Paul, was battered, divorced then on AFDC. I moved to South Minneapolis and slowly worked my way off AFDC. Then 13 yrs ago I married a much nicer man who grew up in the in South Minneapolis. Today we are still surviving in poverty yet we managed to teach the boys morals and self respect. One is a married father of two, an Iraq war survivor, and working and in collage. Our other son is a collage grad. and is a supervisor. I am proud of them both. My kids used to play in Powderhorn Park. http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crime-statistics/codefor/statistics.asp http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/police/crime-statistics/ucr/
From: Forum Manager (Sara Bergen) Date: 10:03pm, Nov 29, 2010
Sorry, I approved the above post on accident. MJ does not include her full name in her profile and thus her post (above) is in violation of forum rules. My apologies for letting this slip by. Sara Bergen, poho forum manager
From: Nora Helf Date: 3:25am, Nov 30, 2010
I don't keep up with the news. My aunt from White Bear Lake, during a heated discussion about public education, informed me that there had been three rapes in Powderhorn Park recently. She summed up the incident in the way that she read it in the paper or saw it on the news. I was horrified; I didn't know how to digest it. The funny part is that I wasn't worried because I live in Powderhorn Park. I'm a pre-service teacher, so I often see things through the lens of an educator. I was thinking about the woman's children and what they went through, but also I was thinking about how sad it was that four children had been so failed in their lives that they were able to commit such an atrocious act. I have since learned, by reading this post, that the women were not raped. This didn't really change how I felt other than I was glad that the women and the children were maybe not as wounded as they could have been. I really felt a lot of sadness for the perpetrators. What have their lives been like that they were able to commit such a violent act? They are CHILDREN, after all. I would not excuse them in any way and believe they must be held accountable, but I believe that their souls must be in a lot of pain, too. I wish there was a way to help them, as the "mother in the news" mentioned. Our justice system seems to be one in which people like this fall off the face of the earth, destined for a life of pain and hopelessness. I wish there could be more restorative justice programs that could potentially help these boys to heal and become productive members of society. Please understand that I know that the violence these boys committed is not excusable or acceptable in any way, and it is best that they be sequestered from the public and are dealt with through the legal system in some way. My heart goes out to the mother and her family and the other young women and their families. And it also goes out to the boys and their families. It is amazing to have read the response by this mother; she said so many powerful things, and I feel lucky to have gotten to read what she wrote. I am also lucky to live in this neighborhood and am so glad to have read the postings by other people on this forum, too. Thank you, mother in the news. You have given your neighborhood a great gift with your response promoting peace and forgiveness.
From: Kristin Green Date: 4:23am, Nov 30, 2010
There has been much mention on these posts about restorative justice programs. Please understand the restorative justice programs are not appropriate for violent offenders. I think the general understanding is that violent offenders must be kept away from others who may become victimized. Restorative justice programs are appropriate for and intended for offenders who have agreed to take responsibility for their actions, and who have not physically violated another's person.
--- On Mon, 11/29/10, Nora Helf <email obscured>> wrote: From: Nora Helf <email obscured>> Subject: Re: [Mpls-PoHo] public statement from the family assaulted in the park 11/23 To: <email obscured> Date: Monday, November 29, 2010, 9:16 PM I don't keep up with the news. My aunt from White Bear Lake, during a heated discussion about public education, informed me that there had been three rapes in Powderhorn Park recently. She summed up the incident in the way that she read it in the paper or saw it on the news. I was horrified; I didn't know how to digest it. The funny part is that I wasn't worried because I live in Powderhorn Park. I'm a pre-service teacher, so I often see things through the lens of an educator. I was thinking about the woman's children and what they went through, but also I was thinking about how sad it was that four children had been so failed in their lives that they were able to commit such an atrocious act. I have since learned, by reading this post, that the women were not raped. This didn't really change how I felt other than I was glad that the women and the children were maybe not as wounded as they could have been. I really felt a lot of sadness for the perpetrators. What have their l ives been like that they were able to commit such a violent act? They are CHILDREN, after all. I would not excuse them in any way and believe they must be held accountable, but I believe that their souls must be in a lot of pain, too. I wish there was a way to help them, as the "mother in the news" mentioned. Our justice system seems to be one in which people like this fall off the face of the earth, destined for a life of pain and hopelessness. I wish there could be more restorative justice programs that could potentially help these boys to heal and become productive members of society. Please understand that I know that the violence these boys committed is not excusable or acceptable in any way, and it is best that they be sequestered from the public and are dealt with through the legal system in some way. My heart goes out to the mother and her family and the other young women and their families. And it also goes out to the boys and their families. It is amazing to have r ead the response by this mother; she said so many powerful things, and I feel lucky to have gotten to read what she wrote. I am also lucky to live in this neighborhood and am so glad to have read the postings by other people on this forum, too. Thank you, mother in the news. You have given your neighborhood a great gift with your response promoting peace and forgiveness. Nora Helf About Nora Helf: http://forums.e-democracy.org/p/4yOSLDmJcdQR5Cw3NPkbQ8 View full topic, share on Facebook, Twitter, etc: http://forums.e-democracy.org/r/topic/4x2Go0TEwDc33wCRydQoVR - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - To post, e-mail: <email obscured> or "Reply-to-All" to post publicly. To leave or for daily digest, type "unsubscribe" OR "digest on" in subject instead. Forum home: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/mpls-poho - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Need help? http://e-democracy.org/support Hosting thanks: http://OnlineGroups.Net Follow us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/edemocracyorg
From: Ana Silva Date: 10:14pm, Nov 30, 2010
i'm praying for you and your family daily. hoping to see you all around the park and say hi as usual.
From: David Frenkel Date: 11:43pm, Nov 30, 2010
If you look at the statistics of incarcerated men in the US the vast majority came from broken homes where typically there was no father present. Several years ago I volunteered for a program called Bolder Options that works with needy inner city children to get them involved in physical activity like running. If you need a better understanding of what plenty of urban kids need I would suggest volunteering some time: http://www.bolderoptions.org/
From: Rick Miller Date: 2:37am, Dec 01, 2010
I am stunned by what I am reading in this forum. So much that needs to be addressed and argued with. Predatory men ( not children ) by and large have no essential goodness. They are a product of careless breeding by humans who have no skills and/or desire to raise children properly. The only thing these predatory animals need to be connected with is a jail cell-preferably for decades. In a world rife with overpopulation and dwindling natural resources, useless scum like this is not worth the time to try to salvage; to try to understand their " pain ". The old saying of " You are what you tolerate " comes to mind. If we tolerate crimes and criminals like those from the park assault, it only makes our cities less safe and desireable. Regardless of their past, their families or whatever other mamby pamby excuse you want to try to use, these predators recent actions deserve swift and severe punishment.
From: Peter Tobias Date: 5:15am, Dec 01, 2010
Rick Miller: > If we tolerate crimes and criminals like those from the park assault, it only makes our cities less safe and desireable. I agree, and I haven't seen any tolerance of the assaults and its perpetuators in this forum - rather the opposite, outrage and sympathy for the victim. It seems, however, that you equate discussions about the perpetuators and their situation as "tolerance" - but trying to understand doesn't mean trying to justify. Nobody has suggested giving them a pass. By the way, to bring overpopulation and dwindling natural resources into a discussion how to deal with the perpetuators is really beside the point.
From: Patrick Noonan Date: 8:12pm, Dec 01, 2010
I agree with what Peter said and would like to one thing. Shame on you Rick Miller for saying such horrible things about people whom you don't know and know nothing about. Patrick Noonan
From: Bill Dobbs Date: 10:47pm, Dec 01, 2010
>I am stunned by what I am reading in this forum. So much that needs to be addressed and argued with. Predatory men ( not children ) by and large have no essential goodness. They are a product of careless breeding by humans who have no skills and/or desire to raise children properly. The only thing these predatory animals need to be connected with is a jail cell-preferably for decades.< Rick - I deduce from your attitudes, you may not be familiar with compassion. People here are discussing a compassionate pragmatic response to reduce harm. Compassion for all involved and pragmatic to hold people accountable. True justice tries to reduce the current harm as well as future harm. Addressing the root causes of social dis-ease is vital to improving community.
From: Emily Barker Date: 11:05pm, Dec 01, 2010
Last year I had the great honor of hearing Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, speak at the Westminster Town Hall Forum in Minneapolis. Booker has an amazing story to tell about his journey to being mayor and his success since then. I bring this up here because of the comments about the perpetrators of this crime. I believe that many traditional approaches to "rehabilitation" of people who have not been loved, nurtured and respected do not work. My dad was a drug and alcohol counselor when I was really young and as I got older, when he would read the crime reports in the paper, I'd hear him say regularly, "oh, I counseled that guy back in ___." People repeatedly got in trouble. Cory Booker has a new approach in a city ridden with crime. His work helped drop the murder rate in Newark by 60% since he took office in 2006. They also started a program called DADS for men who are being released from jail, to prevent going back to crime, where they partner these men with other fathers who haven't committed crimes. It is amazing how they have reduced the rates of reoffenders. You can read more about his work in Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/11/cory-booker-facebook-education I guess my hope is that as the woman and her children heal from this experience, and I know many people will be supporting and praying for them, that the young boys also have positive guidance from adults in their lives and not just other criminals in jail.
From: leigh combs Date: 11:29pm, Dec 01, 2010
thank god there are men who understand compassion if we want to stop sexual assault and rape men are going to have to keep talking about it - a lot - and they / we have start talking boys & young men - and they need to hear from other men, they need to hold each other accountable. Of course i know boys and men get assualted too - but we all know what the statistics say. If we want to stop sexual assault and rape we need men involved- we need compassion. peace leigh combs
From: Micah Fitch Date: 1:02pm, Dec 04, 2010
I just want to say that seeing the the spirit of reconciliation alive in the neighborhood has moved me.
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