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Community leaders rally together to address violence in St. Paul high schools

By REG CHAPMAN

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    ST. PAUL, Minnesota (WCCO) — St. Paul’s mayor Monday afternoon called for changes to be sure staff and visitors at city recreation centers are safe.

The Oxford Community Center otherwise known as the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center is closed. Mayor Melvin Carter says it will remain closed while city leaders look over its safety plan.

The mayor is also calling for an audit of all recreation centers in St. Paul to ensure they are equipped to keep all people who use the facilities and the people who work there safe.

Mayor Carter says his big battle will begin at the state capitol — a fight to keep guns out of recreation centers and libraries

“Last week I shared that state law prohibits cities from banning guns in public recreation centers and libraries. That’s insane,” said Mayor Carter. “My team is working with our St. Paul legislative delegation and Ramsey County leaders to advance a bill authorizing cities to ban guns at our libraries and recreation centers.”

Many in the community are concerned about the level of violence especially when it comes to teenagers.

WCCO learned the 16-year-old victim of the recreation center shooting is not out of the woods, but responding to doctors’ commands.

While he continues to improve, people are coming together to get to what they believe is the root of the problem, arguments inside city schools that escalate into violence.

Mikki Frost is taking his team of Truce Center mediators inside St. Paul high schools.

“We’re inside of Harding, we’re going to be inside of Holbolt, and to be inside of Central High School — some of the main schools that are having some of these issues,” said Frost.

Frost says it’s the verbal disagreements inside these schools that lead to fights, fights that spill over into the community, some with deadly consequences.

Creating safe spaces inside schools is a number one priority.

“[We] create spaces where these kids can resolve their issues if they are having one and also have a presence right there at school to at the first sign of any type of conflict we go get right on top of it,” said Frost.

Reverend Runny Patterson runs 21 Days of Peace in St. Paul and is collaborating with the Truce Center inside schools.

He believes it’s time for the community to work together and help these teens resolve conflicts without violence.

“Our goal is to go into some of these schools and first off build some relationships with these young people,” said Patterson. “I think that we as adults, we as parents, uncles, aunts, we have to get back to the philosophy of where we care about all these kids.”

The Truce Center hopes to expand into any high school that allows them inside to help.

They are also looking for community members, both men and women, who are willing to invest in the lives of young people.

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