Monday, March 29, 2010

Signs, Signs, Everywhere the Signs

Post and photo by the Hawthorne Hawkman

About a week and a half ago, I was driving through the southern part of Hawthorne when I saw a red-and-white sign from Hennepin County on a vacant lot. The sign was announcing an auction for tax-forfeited properties, in honor of Bashir Moghul. Next to the official Hennepin County sign, though, was a sign advertising architectural services.

I've taken down unpermitted signs before, and have found ways to make the activity fun for the whole family.

"Hmmm," I thought, "I'm not aware of the county allowing such signs on their property."

So I called the number listed on the sign, and when someone answered...

...I identified myself as the housing director of the Hawthorne neighborhood and informed them that I saw a sign of theirs posted on county land.

"Do you have permission or any kind of arrangement with Hennepin County to post the sign here?"

"Yes, we do."

"Great. Can you tell me the name of your contact person so I can confirm this?"

"Um, Lance."

"Lance who?"

"I don't remember the last name."

"Okay, do you have an email address or phone number?"


"Well, sir, let me tell you something. I'm not convinced that you do have permission to place your sign here. So I'm going to take it with me. If I'm wrong and you do indeed have authorization, here's how you contact me...Send me that proof and within five minutes I'll have your sign put back where it belongs and you'll have my profound apologies."

"Are you saying you're against development in your neighborhood?"

"No sir. In fact development is one of my top priorities. But you claim to have permission to put this sign here and you haven't convinced me. Placing this on land next to a government sign lends you an air of credibility that you do not have. All I want is for you and other people to follow the rules about how such things are posted in my community." (Click here for an example of what can happen when such basic rules aren't enforced.)

(in a sarcastic voice) "Well, I'm SURE glad that YOU'RE looking out for your neighborhood!"

"I detect an air of sarcasm there, but I'll take the compliment. Thank you, and if you send me proof that I'm wrong, I'll replace your sign immediately."

The auction for the tax-forfeited land occurred on Friday of last week. No contact was made by this person or anyone else to refute my assertion that this sign was not permitted on county land.


Anonymous said...

Stuff like this makes me want to buy the lot, and hire them to draft a house with a closed in porch to max out the bedrooms. Oh and i'd use vinyl Gasp! Slab on grade and no garage!

Patrick said...

Thanks for your civic mindedness. I've been pulling down the "we watch, we call" signs, with are also in violation of City Ordinance.

Anonymous said...

Now you should find a way to get their sign back to them.They are expensive.

Duney said...

I pull signs all the time, they like to grow on my boulevard at The Warren. I paint over them and reuse them.

M. Clinton said...

This sign spam is becoming an issue across the country. I follow different groups involved in distressed urban neighborhood revitalization in other cities just to compare similarities and differences in experiences with Minneapolis. I just recently read a post in New Orleans about "Sign Spam" and you would have thought these signs were plucked from MPLS - it is so similar. I was absolutely ASTOUNDED however when I went home last weekend (to a town of about 125 people in Northern WI - 3 HOURS from MPLS) and found that Twin Cities sign spammers had posted a sign on my mother's property along a rural road without any people or houses in sight! And it was totally the stereotypical corrugated poly sort of sign. It tripped me out to find sign spamming way out there with a Twin Cities phone number on it! I just threw it away and now I wish I would have thought to call. That conversation could have been interesting!

M. Clinton said...

You might find this interesting:


The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Patrick, now you're just being asinine. I highly doubt you're doing that, for one thing. For another, show me the city ordinance you claim makes such signs illegal. That would make political lawn signs off limits as well.

Anon 8:01, you forgot the grant application for the crappy windows. Don't worry though, the sign spam companies will help you with that.

Anon 8:40, sign spammers can have their signs back if they demonstrate they placed them on a property with permission of the owner. After a while, the signs either get covered up and reused or thrown away.

la_vie_en_rose said...

Patrick sounds like the lovely suburbanites I've been having a go-around with on Pioneer Press' comment section.

Speaking of which, I just got done talking with one calling himself "Jasper". He had this to say about the community trying to turn around (none of the mistakes are mine):

You sound like some of the useful idiots that the city keeps giving the run around to while they do nothing. You good honest people are doing something to send the thugs away? Don't make me laugh. What have you done other than complain to your council person to go after the landlord or tear down a concenience store? When have you good honest hypocrites met with your city officials and demanded a law enforcement soloution to your problems rather than bigoted code inspectors and demolition teams?

He's not the only one. It's funny how people who don't even live in NoMi claim to know so much about what's going on here. I got told by another person that I must not be able to walk a hundred feet without tripping over an used needle or have someone bug me to buy crack.

Anonymous said...

Patrick an Hawkman,

Many of the "we watch, we call" sign are on the public right of way. Those signs are improperly placed. Political signs can't be on the right of way either.

People may put signs of private property. In that case if the property owner doesn't like it he can take it down.

I personally don't like the "we watch, we call" signs. It makes me feel like my neighbors don't know how to mind their own damn business. You don't need to advertise that you call the police when you see suspicious activity.

I remember the good old days on the north side when I could live and let live. I don't care what my neighbors do, and they shouldn't care what I do.

It seem there is a new trend around here of people moving in to a distressed area and trying to change everything. I've lived here forever. I don't cause any trouble. I also have never tried to change the behavior of the people who live around me. You knew this was a rough area when you moved in. Don't be surprised when things happen.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Anon 11:21,

My criteria for removing the signs that I've taken down is that they have not been placed there with permission from the owner. In the cases I've blogged about, they've either been placed on utility poles or county land. That being said, I haven't seen a single "We Watch, We Call" sign posted on public right-of-way land.

If I see signs placed in that way, my first inclination would be to notify the owner (as I have done in all other instances as well).

And you know what? You're right. This neighborhood IS changing. These aren't your good old days. There have always BEEN concerned residents calling in criminal behavior. Now there's just MORE of us.

Anonymous said...

Where can I get a job like yours? You suggest to the city council which houses should get leveled and you remove signs that you deem misplaced. By the way, they are actually called Bandit Signs. Google it.
I was wondering if you get after people who are owner occupants for maintaining a poorly kept house/yard versus the slumlords you guys slam so often?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be more appropiate in this case to let the county remove the sign? After all two wrongs do not make a right and you by removing the sign are stealing it. This is especially true in this case where it is on real property and not a right of way etc.

Main Entry: theft
Pronunciation: \ˈtheft\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English thiefthe, from Old English thīefth; akin to Old English thēof thief
Date: before 12th century
1 a : the act of stealing; specifically : the felonious taking and removing of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it b : an unlawful taking (as by embezzlement or burglary) of property
2 obsolete : something stolen
3 : a stolen base in baseball

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Anon 2:46, you'll have to check neighborhood organizations to see if any are hiring. is a good place to look. "Suggest" is the right word for what I do around housing demolitions, but for the record, I don't make those kinds of statements without community input first.

So far the only owner occupants I've "go[ne] after" are ones engaging in drug or prostitution activities from their properties. If there are people who need to make repairs to their homes, we at Hawthorne try to get them into low-interest loan programs. I don't see individual owner-occupants as having the same kind of impact as slumlords, so I really have no plans to use the same kind of tactics towards them.

Also, for the record, in all instances where I've blogged about taking down signs, I did so on my own time. Just because I'm "off the clock," doesn't mean I stop caring about and doing things for my neighborhood.

Anon 6:33, do you really think the county would have gotten around to taking down this sign? Also in each case where I've removed these signs, I've called the person or entity that's placed them, identified myself, and given them an opportunity to retrieve it.

Anonymous said...

Hey Patrick.

Why don't you get a clue. Those old days of North Minneapolis are quickly fading away.

In fact when people are dealing drugs, littering, playing loud music, and other stupid behavior, it is my damn business.

When people like you are making stupid comments like that, it makes me very very happy. It just shows that what we are doing is working.

If you don't like this new attitude in NoMi you have a couple options, deal with it, move or change.

Your choice Patrick. But I am not going anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I drive around NOMI all of the time and I've never seen a 'we watch, we call' sign anywhere other than on private property, and I look for the signs with great attention.

Patrick and a few of you other idiots are blind, and dumb. Go eat at Applebee's and shut the fuck up. Your son just bought a quarter bag, your daughter just got laid and your middleschooler is about to shoplift at the mall. Don't you have better things to do than troll this blog.

Anonymous said...

The interesting aspect (to me anyway) of comments like Patrick's is that it appears to be an attempt to condone, or at the very least justify, anti-social behaviour.

Regardless of what your economic/social station in life is, you should always want to improve the conditions for yourself and/or those that you love and are important to you.

To attempt to draw a conparison between signs illegally placed installed by a for-profit business entity and neighborhood signs alerting passersby that those living within a community do actively particpate in the safety of their community does not benefit the very same indivduals that posters like Patrick profess to care about, as if "he" really cared, he'd want to create an environment that was a BETTER environment than the one he grew-up in. He would NOT be interested in improving his own personal position by pulling others down to the standards that he finds himself in.

There is no logical sense to be found in attemtping to make this type of comparison. Unless of course, it directly benefits the poster to continue to live in a substandard environment because their life is centered arounf illegal activities......

M. Clinton said...

Sign spamming is considered litter and it is perfectly legal to remove these signs *IF* they were not placed with permission on property that is not theirs.

Anonymous said...

I hate those spam signs too. I also hate those sandwich signs that businesses like to block the sidewalk with. I don't care to debate the issue. But I do know that it is not legal to remove spam signs unless you own the property. Taking signs from other peoples' property, and the public right-a-way is theft. I know this because I was removing campaign signs placed along the 35W/Johnson freeway fence last year and the guy that put them there called the police. The cops told me that removing the signs was theft, even if I thought they were litter. They also told the guy to remove the signs from public property. Do what you want. I doubt you'll get a arrested for it. But being "Housing Director" doesn't give you any special authority.

Rick said...

I'm all about revitalizing NoMi, but I don't like the "we watch, we call" signs. It creates too much of an "us vs. them" attitude. Getting to know the people that were here when I moved in and working together to build a better NoMi is the way I want to go. I'm not just trying to lock people up or drive them to Brooklyn Center.

Cecily said...

In the course of my pursuit of the "Stop Snitching" Campaign, I have been trying to navigate to legal implications of the placement of my signs. It appears to me that if is on private property, I can place my "Stop Snitching" signs there with the approval of the owner.

Could one of the more experienced activists here answer this for me if I am wrong?

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

anon 5:34,

Since the line on this kind of activity is rather blurry, that's exactly why I remove the signs during my free time and not in my capacity as housing director. I'll identify myself as such when I call the offenders, so they know exactly who it is they're talking to, but this activity is not associated with my employer. And frankly, I'm going to keep on doing it. Just down the street from me, I noticed a Minneapolis Singles Net sign. That's going in the trash tomorrow morning.

Rick, there are people more gracious than I am out in our community. But as far as I'm concerned, if someone's dealing drugs, pimping, or engaging in other activities that rise to the level of a 911 call, then I'm US and that person is THEM and I'm just fine with that. I watch, I call.

Cecily, of course someone could place such signs either on their own private property or on private property with the permission of the owner. Just because I think that phrase is wrongheaded and detrimental to the community, that doesn't preclude you from saying it here on this blog or displaying it on your private property.

Anonymous said...


I would be happy to put a "stop snitching" sign in my front yard.

I know you are probably trying to be funny, but I am being totally serious. I agree with the commenter that said "it creates an us vs. them attitude."

I'm all for a safer neighborhood with less crime. I have lived on the north side my entire life. I've seen good times and bad times. I love this city and this neighborhood. One of the things I've always loved is that people know how to mind their own business. I can live my life on my own terms. I am not a drug dealer or gang banger. Personally I don't pay much attention to them. The last thing I need in the neighborhood I love so much is for people to be poking into my business.

I have never called police in my life, and I don't intend to start now. If a problem comes up I'll handle it. That is the way I like it.

All you people new to the neighborhood trying to change things for the better will probably result in more good than bad, but I can't help being a little sad over the change. I like the fact that people around here know how to keep out of other people's business.

Just my $0.02

Anonymous said...

I guess the commentor who is sad about the change is sad about all the litter, drug dealing prositution and crime in NoMi. Of course it is your choice to live in a neighborhood like that, but it is also my choice to live in a decent crime free neighborhood.

It would be interesting to see where these we watch we call signs are going up. Are they rentals or homeowners. I do know it is about &75/25 in our area.

If I ever see those Stop Snitching signs on a rental property, the first call I would make would be to the property owner and then to our CCP/SAFE person. I don't think a landlord would want to association himself with that sort of stupid behavior, at least if he/she wants to keep his or her rental license.

Another thing that is totally stupid. If you are so opposed of the us vs. them mentality, why would you ever make the statement comparing oldtimers vs newcommers. This is doing the exact thing that you are opposed to doing.

I have no problem saying that I am us against them. I am against all of those people who engage in illegal behavior that is detrimental to my property value and personal safety.

I am not going anywhere. So deal with it. And another thing. I have the city and the police department behind me. Who do you have behind you?

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of behavior I don't tolerate any longer.

A group of males were hanging out in front of their house drinking and screaming late into the night last night.

They started about 7:30 pm. There were at least 15 children within eyesight and earshot of these guys.
They were cussing and screaming as loud as they could. I was not going to go out and say be quiet. I had no idea what they were doing or how drunk they were.

I do know that I don't want little children hearing such behavior. I called 911. The cops came and they went inside.

A few hours later they were back at it. I called 911 again. The cops came and dumped out all of there beer.

I don't care that they were outside. I do care about the fact that they were cursing and screaming and fighting until 11:30 at night.

I have called the police numerous times on this property and many times people have been hauled away.

I sure hope they get a clue, otherwise they will be spending a lot of time locked up.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Hawkman. You do stupid shit that affects me, I'm US, you're THEM, and THEM won't be around for long.

If I see it, it affects me.
If I hear it, it affects me.
If I smell it, it affects me.
If my neighbors complain about it to me, it affects me.
If someone dies because of it, it affects me.
If someone goes to the hospital because of it, it affects me.
If your stupid friends stole your expensive TV, and now you're pissed about it, it affects me.

I watch. I call.
If you don't like it...
Hit the road.

Anonymous said...

James Washington said...


There are two sides to every story and even in NoMi a person is innocent until proven guilty.

If they were too loud then the PD should have been there with a decibel meter to establish a precise noise violation. And I can't see the PD dumping out their beer. That is stealing private property. Even if they were making excessive noise the violators should get a ticket and a small fine, like $10.00. Arrest and property seizure is way too much punishment for such a minor offense.

In the future if their noise is bothering you just close your window. I support snitching in the case of murder or rape, but the kind of snitching that you are doing is what gave rise to the somewhat misguided "stop snitching" movement.

Or, you could also consider going up and talking to the people who were making noise. In the NoMi I want to live in neighbors talk to neighbors. If we have a problem we talk to each other instead of trying to get the cops to lock up another brother.

Johnny Northside said...

We've all seen how it goes when decent people try to go "talk" to thugs.

Cops dump out beer all the time. When the beer is in possession of a minor, the cops have to dispose of it and it's not worth taking as evidence. So the beer, if it's open, gets dumped out. If the beer is not open, the cops should take the beer as evidence, to be properly processed and disposed of.


Anonymous said...

ANON 9:54AM Says:
Or, you could also consider going up and talking to the people who were making noise. In the NoMi I want to live in neighbors talk to neighbors. If we have a problem we talk to each other instead of trying to get the cops to lock up another brother.

Dennis Plante says:
Oh really? So, you'd suggest that we should all act in a more, how should I say it - "respectfull" manner to each other.

Is it indeed "respectfull" for numerous guests/property owners/renters to throw a party and be loud and obnoxious outside their home in a residential neighborhood? Do their rights to disturb all their neighbors out-weigh all their neighbors rights to live in a reasonablly peacefull environement. And remember, they were warned twice. Sounds to me like the partiers obviously have a complete disregard for their neighbors. Why should their neighbors show them the "brotherly" courtesy of going over and asking them nicely to abstain from their obnoxious behaviour? What good would it have done? They had already dememonstrated that even the cops weren't going to curtail the fun they were having.

You see the problem with your thought process is you seem to assume that anyone has the "right" to do whatever they choose to do, regardless of how they impact others. Name a civilization where this occurs. I'll be waiting.....

Anonymous said...

Or, you could also consider going up and talking to the people who were making noise. In the NoMi I want to live in neighbors talk to neighbors. If we have a problem we talk to each other instead of trying to get the cops to lock up another brother.

And in the Nomi most posters on this board want, neighbors are considerate of each other. Having loud parties until late at night in your front-year is not conducive to beuiling relationships with your "neighbors". It's called disrespecting your neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Washington.

They were drinking in the public right of way. The street. It is illegal to have an open container in public. End of story. The police have every right to dump out that beer.

If I can still hear the noise with my windows shut, it is too loud. And another thing why should I have to close my windows on a beautiful night just so some punk kids can be loud.

It is a two way street. Why don't they come over and talk to me? Plus I do talk with these people. The loud people are the kids' friends.

You can complain and belly ache all you want, I will continue to call 911, 311 and exercise all my rights under the law. If you don't like this, leave. Sell your place to someone who will actually help the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

If case people want to know. Here is the city ordinance regarding noise.

I particularly like this part of the ordinance

"Individuals are not required to welcome unwanted noise into their own homes and there simply is no right to force unwanted noise into the home of an unwilling listener and there is a compelling interest in prohibiting such noise on a content neutral basis."

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Recently there have been a spate of comments by folks who disagree with just about everything this blog has posted. I'm referring specifically to "Patrick," "Dontrelle," and "Shamika." These (and other) people claim to be longtime NoMi residents who like things just the way they are or were.

Something's just hasn't seemed right about these comments and I couldn't put my finger on it for a while. Now I have. In every single other instance where I've seen such views articulated, they have been replete with grammar and syntax errors. In these cases, however, grammar and syntax have been virtually perfect.

I still expect that comments will be published (or at times rejected) based on the same criteria as before. And it's quite possible that these people are exactly who they say they are. But I for one, am not buying it.

James Washington said...


I think part of your problem is that you're scared of the people in the neighborhood just because they look and talk different than you do.

I really think you would be doing yourself and this neighborhood a service by approaching these "thugs" and talking to them. People are all pretty much the same the world over. I think you'll get better results by being open and honest than by threatening to call 311 on everyone you don't like.

Or, as my grandmother used to say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

James Washington said...


Why would you assume that people named Shamika or Dontrell can't spell or don't use good grammar? I know you probably don't mean it that way, but your statement comes across as racist to me.

Your blog is full of anonymous comments, so who knows who is who. Heck you might not even be part man, part hawk, for all I know.

But whatever is posted on this blog shouldn't be racist or tinged with racism.

Cleveland Guy said...

To the people who feel that the "we watch, we call" signs make you think twice, that your neighbors are not minding their own business: 1) If you're not doing anything you don't want your neighbors to see, why are you worried? If you are, what did Mama say about that? 2) I'm really not that interested if what you're doing is legal. 3) If it's illegal, people should be watching and calling ... that's the whole point of the sign.

Shamika said...

Just because I am black and have a black name and live in NoMi doesn't mean that I don't know how to spell or use proper grammar.

While I haven't been blessed with being white like the snitches on this blog, it doesn't mean my brain doesn't work and I can't spell.

This sort of racism is endemic in NoMi among the privileged white and Somali class. It makes me feel invisible when whites and asians point out my exceptional grammar and spelling like I am not supposed to have it.

Low End Leroy said...

I agree with the H. Hawkman.
I'm not buying it either. If this was a fairy tale, it would be "Three Billy Goats Gruff," and some of these folks would be sitting under the bridge, pouting and carrying on.


MeganG. said...

Hawkman, I agree - and had actually been meaning to write about it here in comments or perhaps an editorial on my own blog - but - I will bet you my paycheck these are made up "identities" planted here to create the illusion that there is wide spread dissent and alternative views to what is shared here on JNS, as if the writers and comment contributors on JNS are actually in the minority.

I believe there ARE dissenting views and voices around the northside, however they are not coming to this blog to voice those opinions as much as Shamika, Gary, Patick, Dontrelle, Tyrone Washington, several anonymous and other commenters would like it to appear. And Eloise. I believe Eloise to be part of the made up commenting identities.

I have been actively pushing an agenda of revitalization, law&order, and all around decent behavior for NoMi. And for all that time there has always been the same "voices" of resistance and status quo. Leave the poor people alone, people don't have money to maintain their homes, leave the thugs alone because no one will give them a job, leave the inconvenience stores alone because where will the poor people buy their milk, etc etc. It's the same story for years - and when the push of revitalizers versus thug-huggers gets heated - there is always always always some fake identities that pop up. I could give you a laundry list of fake identities.

And I sense the same thing here in the recent comments on this blog as well as the H-chronicles blog.

The same no-account thug huggers can't use their own name to leave dissenting opinions (for whatever reason that is) - so they make up some random names.

It's so transparent, but alas, I realize how desperate they are to *try* and maintain the status quo in NoMi.

Whenever I see comments about where will the poor people live if NoMi changed for the better - I always wonder "Don't poor people deserve to live in a safe, clean, decent neighborhood?" Why do things have to stay violent, dysfunctional, dirty and disrepair in order for poor people to be able to live here?

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Well THAT sure didn't take long for someone to play the race card. Notice that nowhere in my comment did I single out any particular race. And I included Patrick in there as well. I know ignorant thug-huggers who are white and African Americans I consider more sophisticated than myself. My original opinion stands; there is a level of sophistication in the way many of the recent posters write that is not consistent with what I have typically seen from those who espouse such views.

Now I think it would be GREAT if I'm wrong. That would mean that this blog is engaging people in discussions about our community that perhaps we haven't reached before. And as stated, substantive comments, even those of questionable origin, are almost universally approved.

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

In terms of when to call 911 and when to simply approach your neighbors about things like partying or noise, I leave that entirely up to the person who feels the need to do one or the other.

It would of course be preferable and more neighborly to approach those people and ask them to quiet down or otherwise curtail their disruptive behavior. But a group of intoxicated (if only slightly) people may not be the safest people to broach the subject with. If you feel safe, go ahead and talk with your offending neighbors in situations like this. If not, that's exactly what the MPD is there for.

James Washington said...


It's good to know that you're not more sophisticated than all of the black people of the world. That is big of you to admit that even a lowly black person could be more sophisticated than you.

And Megan,

Maybe it makes it easier for you to think that all of the dissenting voices must be made up and couldn't be from real Northsiders, but I'm afraid that's not the case. The truth is that this blog got a lot more prominent as a result of coverage in the Strib and through the other good work of John Hoff. As a result, more people with diverse viewpoints visit the site and comment on the boards.

It seems to me that we both want a better north MPLS. Maybe we don't agree on all of the particulars, but with the same goals in mind we should be friends and not enemies. I'll be out tonight picking up garbage left over from the winter. I hope to see you around. And if I do I will say hello.


P.S., I've inserted a few grammatical errors so people don't question my "blackness".

Hillside Chronicles said...

We are all entitled to peace on our blocks and in and around our homes.

If you stay out of people's business, then shouldn't bother you that people call 911 and 311 ... unless, of course, they are calling on you, in which case it's personal.

As for the idea of the "Stop Snitching" signs ... well, I bet they don't manifest themselves. But if someone does go through the effort of putting their money where their blog comment is, then I'll be there to take a picture and write about it ... in fact, it will be interesting to see how many of the potentially hypocritical signs go up (remember, these are people who want to stay out of other people's business but they want to put up a sign that gets into their neighbor's 911 & 311 calling business). I'll have fun with that issue...oh, btw, the "We Watch, We Call" folks have a huge head start...

I agree with Pond-Dragon, Megan and Hawkman...something's funny about these identities...

la_vie_en_rose said...

I've wondered how many Anons (or even semi-anonymous) are actually real or the work of trolls. However, I give them the benefit of the doubt until someone can prove they're all coming from the same IP address.

There are ways to fix the trolling. Ask people to use an email address along with a name, or better yet, stop allowing anonymous commenting, and ask people to create an account.

However, realize that doing those things won't keep out trolls. If someone really wants to troll this blog, they'll create multiple emails and Blogger accounts just to do it.

Like I said though, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt because as Shamika and others said, skin color does not equal intelligence quotient. I know just as many ignorant white folks as I do educated black folks (of course, you can still be educated and an idiot at the same time).

No offense to MeganG, but what makes you suspect that Eloise is one of them? Just because she has a different opinion? Am I also a troll just because I do, indeed, point out "what happens to the poor people?" I assure you, I don't point it out because I don't want to see a better community. I point it out because I've been a citizen in other "hoods" where people succeeded in turning the area around, but they also succeeded in kicking out the good (yes, I do mean that) people just because they couldn't afford to live in the new neighborhood. While I'm not saying that you all here are trying to whitewash NoMi, I am saying that it happens elsewhere, so I can understand some of the outrage and desire to understand what you hope to accomplish here.

Anonymous said...

If any of these people want to start living in the solution, please feel free to join any of the neighborhood committees or organizations.

Until you try to live as part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Enough said.

Ranty said...

Next time I watch my neighbors' friends get it on in a car with booming bass and then throw their condom into the street I'll be SURE to go over and tap on the window, and politely ask them to have sex inside, where bar-b-que-eating children cannot see them so well.

Oh, and to turn down the stereo.

And please, not to litter.

That oughtta work great.

MeganG. said...

So, James Washington, you're my northside neighbor - great! I can't wait to meet you! It's actually one of the things I LOVE about being a neighborhood volunteer and a volunteer for local political campaigns - I LOVE meeting new people!

So tell me, where can I meet you? Are you going out tomorrow night to roam around your block, perhaps picking up litter? I'll meet you there - I'll bring my dog whom I like to get him out for walks as much as possible.

You can tell me where to meet you here, or obviously, for privacy reasons - you can email me at

Look forward to meeting you soon!


Johnny Northside! said...

I concur with the observation that true thugs have bad spelling and grammar. Race doesn't make any difference. Thugs are bad writers the whole world over.

Some folks are on this blog pretending to be characters they are not. It would be nice to know who is the "right man" and who is just a character, hint hint.

James Washington said...


I'm flattered that you'd like to meet me. I share an email account with my wife, and it would be pretty hard to explain meeting a woman over the internet to her, so let's conduct our business right out here in the open.

If it is as beautiful today as it was yesterday I will be walking around between Jordan Park and Fairview Park. I'll have my dog with me. He's a black and white pit bull. I should have a large black garbage bag (hopefully full) in my hand.

It's great to meet fellow civic minded people, even if we disagree on some of the small details. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Shamika's a dork too.

Anonymous said...

I don't see spelling and grammer as the fishy bit about the "thug hugger" crowd on this blog. The people who won't call 911 or 311 are highly unlikely to spend their time posting comments on a blog. It just doesn't fit the mindset.

As to whether the comments reflect a certain point of view among NoMi residents, I think they do. Years ago I used to have block club meetings, which were complain and moan sessions among the neighbors about how unsafe the neighborhood was, but when the suggestion was made to call 911, they were appalled at the idea. They either claimed they were afraid of retaliation or they just shut off and refused to discuss the subject further. And I had more white people than black at these block club meetings, so this is not a "black" attitude. So cool your jets, race baiters.

Interestingly, the folks with that attitude have slowly moved away over the last decade out of fear of what their inaction has wrought, typically selling their homes to investors, as no one else wanted to buy their homes.

Now many of the investors have failed financially, the homes have been foreclosed and new people are moving into the area, with higher expectations.

Hand-in-hand with the local culture is/was a certain attitude by those in public safety offices. I have heard "What do you expect, you live in North," and "You need to stop expecting you can change the behavior of others" [vis a vis a discussion of drug dealing], and best of all, "No one wants to change North because it represents pseudo-containment to the rest of the city."

These attitudes are on their way out (a) because new residents aren't going to put up with the crime and (b) local government can't afford to have about 1/5 of the city's real estate under-performing from a tax standpoint.

Almost a shame, as there is a dying micro-culture in this area that is rich fodder for some socialigist's doctoral thesis.


la_vie_en_rose said...

AKL, that's some of the same stuff I was told over on Pioneer Press' commenting section. "Why live in North Minneapolis? It's always going to be a bad place to live. You can't change it."

Everything can change, if people try hard enough. Once you've been to the absolute worst, things can only get better from there (preferably).

Shamika said...


I'm glad you acknowledge that people of color can have exceptional grammar and spelling skills.

It's good to see some reasonable people here.

MeganG. said...

James - I totally get the email sharing thing - but for real, you can't expect me to meet you "somewhere between..." with no set time? C'mon James!!! :-)

Let's set a specific location and a specific time - and we can call it a JNS meet-n-greet? Shall we? Come one, come all. Bring your wife, too! I'd love to meet her as well. Got kids? Bring them! I'll just have my four-legged kid.

I'm tied up helping on a local political campaign friday afternoon - so what's your weekend look like?

James Washington said...

Shoot Megan,

I thought this was going to be a more romantic sort of meeting. I guess not.

I did get a lot of garbage picked up tonight though!

I'm going to Chicago this weekend to visit my son. We'll have to get together after that and see where the relationship goes.


Hillside Chronicles said...

Megan --

Count me in too.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. Calling the police on your neighbors for minor infractions does nothing to better the north side – other than to perpetuate your twisted “us vs. them” mentality, which I hope other readers find at least half as disgusting as I do. If you are too racist to go and speak to them without invoking Minneapolis’ pathetic excuse for law enforcement then you have no business here in the first place.

Stealing the sign of a struggling entrepreneur, in my humble opinion, does far more harm than a few pals drinking outside on their own street – think about the big picture the next time you “do-gooders” choose to jeopardize another citizen’s livelihood and/or freedom.


Anonymous said...

Concrete Rosa:
You may want to familiarize yourself with a concept called 'rule of law.'

The citizens of this city and this state (both of which include North Minneapolis) have elected officials who have enacted legislation that makes much of the behavior you are defending illegal.
If you don't like it fine. Vote.
Until it is changed, it is the law and you and your "struggling entrepreneurs" are subject to it, just the same as I am. I have a right to expect the law to be enforced, and I aim to see to it that it happens.
If you don't like it... Hit the road, or stay... obey... and vote.

MeganG. said...

James - I look forward to setting up a meet-n-greet at an exact time/exact location - and no, as flattered as you may feel, I'm not looking for a relationship other than meeting a new northside neighbor. Have a good trip to Chicago and we'll go for a dog walk one evening next week - Hillside Chronicles has a dog too, matter of fact she is the girlfriend of my dog, it's cute.


Anonymous: why the flippant tone in response to my, I thought, constructive post? Are you the shut-in who spent an entire evening hiding inside, repeatedly dialing 911 on your unsuspecting neighbors? Way to enrich the sense of community! /sarcasm

“Until it is changed, it is the law and you and your "struggling entrepreneurs" are subject to it, just the same as I am. I have a right to expect the law to be enforced, and I aim to see to it that it happens.”

I applaud your keen sense of “just-us”; however, this thought provoking prose brings up the question of whose job it really is to enforce these laws. Is it Wild West vigilantes, such as Hawkman, who march into neighborhoods STEALING property from small business owners? No, it is the job of local law enforcement (bankrolled by local hoods such as Taylor Trump) to see that these laws are upheld.

I’ll be outside having a few beers tomorrow, enjoying the company of my neighbors. Do the rest of us a favor and stay inside with your touchtone.


James Washington said...


If you casually use terms like "spade", I don't want to spend any time with you, romantically or otherwise. You probably think that's pretty niggardly of me, but I have no tolerance for racism.


Anonymous said...

The word "niggardly" has nothing to do with the "N" word. The definition is below, as well as the etymology of the word. Yeesh.


Niggardly, Definition: Not generous; unwilling to give or spend money

Etymology: mid-14c., nygart, of uncertain origin. The suffix suggest French origin (cf. –ard), but the root word is probably related to O.N. hnøggr “stingy,” from P.Gmc. *khnauwjaz (cf. Swed. njugg "close, careful," Ger. genau "precise, exact"), and to O.E. hneaw "stingy, niggardly," which did not survive in M.E.

MeganG. said...

James - I knew you would find a reason not to introduce yourself as a real neighbor! And stop trying to make my neighborly outreach into something romantic! That's just odd!!!

Look - I grew up with black folks so intertwined in my life in many ways that it's one reason I went house hunting on the northside!!!

In all my years I have never heard 'spade' be used in a derogatory way - stop trying to reach for the racist card.

But thanks for proving my point - you aren't a real neighbor that exists.

Boogaloo said...

I hope Megan is not opposed to miscegenation.

Connie said...

I'm up at midnight because the thugs on the corner are out taunting their off leash dog up and down the block, dealing drugs to vehicles who honk to get their curb service and carrying on as if no one else has any rights to peace and quiet. This has been going on since after 10pm.

So who wants to come over and ask them politely to stop it?!? I'm not going out there, hell to the NO! I shouldn't HAVE to -- they should have the common decency to respect their neighbors, stay quiet after 10pm, NOT deal drugs ... with little kids out there, too. And stop behaving as if they alone inhabit the planet!

For crying out loud, how can ANYONE think this is acceptable behavior?! Snitch -- you bet! No, I'm not going to let this continue ... it just gets worse if we don't exercise OUR rights to peaceful co-existence.

I don't carry a gun and wear a bullet proof vest, and I don't have the authority the police do. That's their job and I'm happy to feed them the information they need to do their jobs.

There were four of them standing in front of MY house the other day doing hand-offs to cars pulling up. WTF?!? I'm supposed to go inside my house, close my drapes and let this happen. Again, hell to the NO!

We don't look the other way, we don't tolerate this crap and we call the police to take care of it! How is THAT wrong and criminal activity is okay?!?

I've lived in NoMi my entire life, too, and this is just plain not acceptable behavior for anyone. Those kids in that house deserve better. That dog deserves better. Those guys deserve better --- and they could have it with all the help and resources available out there. THEY are making CHOICES. No one has forced this on them. They have options, they CHOOSE to live this lifestyle ... the kids and the dog didn't.

It's sickening and sad and intolerable. And I'm not going to put up with it --- never have, never will. We've gotten rid of half a dozen lousy neighbors like this in the past several years, we'll do it again.

They can choose to buck up and fly right and reap the benefits, or they can continue illegal activity and pay the consequences.

I'm just sayin .....

Anon 11:10am said...

Concrete Rosa:

I'm outside all the time,
with my phone, my neighbors, and our "we watch we call" signs.

Do yourself a favor and keep the racket down late at night or you'll find a squad in front of your house, and me in my yard watching it all go down.