By JAY CLARK
AAP contributing writer
MINNEAPOLIS (Jan. 3, 2015) — A group of Hmong students living on the Humboldt Irving route of the proposed North Minneapolis Bikeway, went to Minneapolis City Hall on Dec. 30 to to meet with city staff.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform city staff about Hmong families, culture, religion and gatherings. The youth told the city officials about problems that Hmong experience in North Minneapolis, such as strong-arm bike robberies and other crimes, and to explain how the daily fear of encountering these situations impacts Hmong families’ and their view of the proposed bikeway.
The youth described how a dozen or more people may be living in a typical Hmong household, ranging from babies to grandparents. Hmong households may have six or more cars because of many family members using them to go to work and school. The cars get parked in front of their homes. Many Hmong households have religious ceremonies and family gathering that often bring over 75 or more people, and these guests park around the block. All reasons why Hmong families do not want to lose their parking to the bikeway.
Several of the youth talked about how they, and their family and friends have been the victims of strong-arm bike thefts and other crime. One youth described how his bike was stolen by a drunken man, and when his brother came out to get the bike back, the drunken man fought him.
Another youth described how he was riding his bike when a group of youth ambushed him. They were pulling him off his bike when a Hmong friend in a nearby house came outside and pulled out a gun. The ambushers ran away, and the Hmong youth kept his bike, but now he will not ride his bike in his neighborhood.
Minneapolis police officer Kou Vang explained that strong-arm bike thefts are a major problem for North Minneapolis Hmong youth and that often Hmong are reluctant to call the police. Minneapolis Community Relations’ Michael Yang explained that large house gatherings are important to Hmong families and Hmong religion and culture.
City staff said that a mockup of the bikeway would be put up on several blocks along the Irving Humboldt route in the Spring.