City of Columbia Heights and its Black youth trouble-maker problem

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“The problem-makers were not Columbia Heights people; outsiders came in and just kind of caused trouble.” said Columbia Heights city councilman Bruce Nawricki. Hey, don’t get pissed at Nawricki, this is probably information from CH police chief Nadeu.

By Don Allen, Publisher and resident of Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights, Minn.  – The city of Columbia Heights, nestled right outside the northeast part of Minneapolis is a suburb that for a while now has been suffering a few growing pains. The city, where police actually have meaningful conversations with residents while getting coffee at Bobby and Steve’s Auto World is growing at a rapid pace – only 12 minutes from downtown Minneapolis and the new sports facility, my personal tenure here has been nothing but pleasant and included a visit by city council person (who in my opinion should be the mayor) Ms. Donna Schmidt. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to live and raise a family, if you can send your children far away as possible for school (education), but some city and school leaders, white, antiquated and extremely boring have run out of ideas for handling minority youth and only point to law enforcement. This will create a problem much larger than the one currently afoot.

Just this year Columbia Heights, Minn. made the news when my friend and Columbia Heights School Board member Grant Nichols was accused of posting in social media about Somali’s in a not-so politically correct way. Minnesota governor Mark Dayton and MDE commissioner Brenda Cassellius (a really nice person), came from St. Paul to hold a press conference condemning Nichols and demanding his resignation for the social media post which has nothing to do with education, government or the day-to-day operations of the Columbia Heights schools.  Unfortunately, Dayton and Cassellius ignored the fact that education in Columbia Heights is hurting; the high school as it pertains to minority-ethnic children are graduating functional illiterates. I guess that none of that matters when it comes to attacking someone on the right…addressing relevant issues like successful measurable outcomes and how to get success in education always takes a back seat to children, education and broken collaboration between families, culture and classrooms where teachers need to have all the tools to deal with the day-to-day challenges.

Since we know the mainstream media is very lazy, it shocked me to come across the story on KSTP televisions website, “Security Concerns May Lead to Changes at Columbia Heights Jamboree Carnival.”

The Jamboree Festival is the highlight of the summer for Columbia Heights. Many residents bring their families, friends and co-workers to this family-friendly event. It’s our mini-state-fair, without the traffic, long lines and overly important people. It’s a carnival for a community that celebrates itself, the people and fun.

The KSTP article quotes Columbia Heights city councilman Bruce Nawricki who said, “The problem-makers were not Columbia Heights people; outsiders came in and just kind of caused trouble. There’s been a few things suggested: cutting out parts of the rides or even putting a fence around, which would not, in my view, be very practical.”

It probably would have been better off for Nawricki to spell the “problem-makers.” True, the trouble comes from young black males and young white dudes who somehow identify as black; I saw this in 2015 where I immediately asked three black youth to pull up their pants because my four-year-old son tapped me on the side and said, “Daddy, that boy’s pants are falling off.” The boy’s hesitantly complied and I asked where they were from? Two of them live in Columbia Heights (originally from Chicago) where they attended high school; the third was a transplant from Chicago who would start school in CH that September, citing his mom was still looking for a place to live. Some of the vulgarity coming out of the mouths of both black and white youth was unacceptable. If you say “f**k it!” to everything, you’re bound to be trapped inside the playground of your mind; if someone outside of the classrooms schooled these children in etiquette, it might possibly change the culture in Columbia Heights.

There is a wide disconnect between the growing number black folks, mostly immigrants and people who have migrated from other states and the solid white infrastructure that runs Columbia Heights. Until city leaders look at other options sans law enforcement, we can certainly expect one or two fights, an argument and quite possibly a shooting related to an argument at the carnival. If you haven’t noticed, Columbia Heights is a stone-throw away from north Minneapolis where the residents have seen over 100 shots fired and multiple murders. If Columbia Heights wants to stop the possible and predicted trouble, it should act now.

2 Comments on "City of Columbia Heights and its Black youth trouble-maker problem"

  1. It will be interesting to see if they use any other methods other than law enforcement to address these issues!

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