Night Out brings people together to fight crime

by Chris Vetter

Neighbors in the Marcy-Holmes area came outside Tuesday and shared a potluck picnic of hot dogs, chicken wings and potato salad to celebrate the 13th annual National Night Out.
The event was organized to raise awareness of crime and bring neighbors and police together.
About 50 residents, students and local politicians came to the party, one of many held in the University area.
“It is a challenge to build a sense of community because of so many short-term residents,” said Jeff Nachbar, a community organizer.
The hot, muggy night brought many people out to the party. Kids ran in the street and prizes were awarded by raffle.
“This is a nice neighborhood,” said resident Barbara Montibriand. “We need to watch out for everybody.”
Minneapolis police officer George Florest chatted with people at the party. He said block parties are “an important piece of a larger picture” for fighting crime.
Only a few University students showed up for the party. Graduate student Debra Goertzen wasn’t sure if the party was effective against crime, but said “it seems like a good idea to me.”
Local musicians Jerry Rau and Mark Flora performed during the gathering.
“There is enough negative stuff that makes people fear their neighbor,” said lead singer Flora. “This is something positive.”
The University Lutheran Church of Hope provided tables and parking for the celebration.
Local politicians also showed up at the block party. State Legislature candidates Republican Don Aldrich and Reform Party candidate Alan Shilepsky were there.
Minneapolis Councilwoman Joan Campbell said she was attending 20 block parties during the evening. She said the parties are very important.
“They are absolutely effective (in) fighting crime,” Campbell said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people.”