Take Back Powderhorn Park Rally

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Minneapolis residents are holding a “Reclaim the Park” rally in Powderhorn Park tonight, following a Thanksgiving Eve assault of a mother who was skiing with her children in the cherished South Minneapolis park, which is also home to the annual May Day festival. Our videographer Craig Stellmacher is live at the festive scene.

And here’s a message from one of those who was assaulted, which appeared on the Twin Cities Daily Planet website:

*We Survived Grandly, We’re Blessed with an Abundance of Support and Love*

First of all I want to tell you what a strange experience I have as I read the postings on this forum and read the news reports of the incident that my children and I experienced. When we get talked about in the third person it seems like they’re talking about someone else and then I get scared for those people they are talking about and then I realize they’re talking about me! I never thought I’d ever have this experience and I sure would have liked to have made the news for some other reason!

Second, I want to tell you that my children and I are doing quite well considering that we had a gun held to our chests only three days ago. On Thanksgiving, the day after the incident, my children said two things to me that give me hope for their healing and I would like to share what they said with you.

I was trying to reassure the kids by telling them that they were safe since the boys who did this were in jail. My son replied, “That’s too bad. They didn’t know what they were doing. Now they don’t get to have the life of fun that I have.” I’m pretty amazed at his compassion and understanding.

And my daughter said later in the day of her brother, “I was annoyed at him because he was kicking the couch while we were sitting, but I didn’t want to say anything because I’m so happy to have him.”

I have a lot to learn from my kids about staying in touch with what really matters in life. We sure got a profound lesson in having gratitude for just being alive. And don’t worry, they have quickly fallen back to their habits of bickering with each other, which I see as a sure sign they are moving on and getting back to normalcy.

I have so much gratitude for the friends and neighbors who supported us with such care and love after the incident. Wow what a great neighborhood we live in. And I hold dear to my heart the police officers who answered our call. They showed me a dedication to serving the people of their precinct.

I’m amazed at the perseverance and care of the officer who followed the boys’ tracks in the snow and managed to be there when the two girls had pushed off their attackers and run away. The girls ran right into the two officers who were tracking the sneaker prints.

I do want to correct one major inaccuracy in the news that I have read. None of us were raped, to the best of my knowledge. Yes, I was sexually assaulted but the girls did manage to fight off the boys and escape before anything happened. I really have a huge repulsion at the labeling of us as victims. I see us as strong and capable of taking charge of our safety.

I find it ironic to have had this experience as I currently study nonviolence, restorative justice and the healing of childhood trauma. I got to put my studies and my practice of mindfulness into play as the incident unfolded. The whole time I made a conscious choice to see the boys as human beings, not to see them as evil or bad. I focus my attention not on the boys’ actions but the pain behind their actions. I see those boys as hurting, scared children who didn’t get the kind of nurture, love and care that they needed. I try to hold them now in compassion and hope that they might get the support they need to reconnect to their essential goodness.

With the system of justice that we currently use, I’m hopeless that will happen.

I want to say too that I do also hold a lot of fear in my body in response to the trauma and I want to acknowledge that a lot of people now feel fear as a result of what happened to us. This event was huge and it will continue to have a huge impact on all of us in this community. I do hope for myself though to take the awesome energy of my fear and channel it into finding ways to support precious beings that come into this world to get all the love, fun, and nurture that is their birthright.

I won’t let my fear however keep me from enjoying our beautiful park and neighborhood. The park is a refuge for me from the hustle and bustle of the city. It connects me to nature and creativity. Our family has enjoyed so many riches here: pottery classes at the park, the May Day Parade, the art festival, the art sled rally, the Animal Convergence, picnics, fishing off the dock, the Empty Bowls fundraiser, skating on the lake, birdwatching, foraging for mushrooms, the playgrounds, laying on the grass and looking at the sky, the list goes on and on. Thank you all for making this such a great place to live.

I guess I might fall into despair, hopelessness and hatred sometime along my healing journey, but I can honestly say I don’t experience them right now. My spiritual practices ground me in love and possibility.

I see that a vigil has been scheduled for Wednesday night. Please take this as an opportunity to celebrate our riches. I would love it if people came out to sing, dance, ski, sled, play Frisbee, etc. Let’s make it a celebration of our community and our park! At one point the boys asked for our skis. I wish they could have taken them and used them and experienced the pure joy of gliding in the fresh snow, getting winded from exertion and breathing in cool, fresh air. Please send them all the love you can muster. I think they really need it.

I just heard this Cat Stevens song for the first time. You might indulge me by listening to it. The third stanza from the end really spoke to me today. It says, “I’m glad I’m alive, am I; I’m glad I’m alive, am I; I’m glad I’m alive, I’m glad I’m alive; I’m glad I’m alive, am I.” That really says it all for me.

As I read back what I’ve written I’m a bit embarrassed, because find it a bit long-winded and preachy but it’s the best I can come up with at this time.

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