International Minnesota 

Boozing replaced with Somali community outreach

The 400 Bar has been closed for about a month now. The building has been purchased by Abdighani M. Ali. Ali, plans on converting the building into a much needed community center for Somali-American children. The building is located in the Minneapolis Cedar-Riverside neighborhood aka Little Somalia. It is fair to say that the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has become a Somali enclave.

Minneapolis is home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., which is estimated at about 14,000 people. The influx of Somalians is largely due to the Somali civil war that began in 1991. Hence “Black Hawk Down.”

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood has been plagued with a number of different set backs, with one of them being crime. The Minneapolis Police Department was clueless on what approach to take to address the problem(s). The main issue was that officers weren’t able to connect with the community due to cultural differences. But in 2006, the MPD sent two Somali officers into the neighborhood. Within a year, officials saw a drop in thefts, aggravated assaults, and similar crimes.

Within the past year, the 400 Bar has called the MPD for support 11 times. On the next block over, the Red Sea Bar & Restaurant has made 25 calls to the MPD. After a quadruple homicide last month, the Red Sea Bar has asked the city for an expanded liquor license. The city is taking the request seriously and they claim that they have the support of surrounding businesses.

One thing that Cedar-Riverside doesn’t need is establishments that draw negative attention and crime. What it does need, are individuals such as Mr. Abdighani M. Ali. A man who sees a problem and takes it upon himself to fix it. A man who uplifts his community.

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