Bad luck followed Lavauntai Broadbent to the Mississippi River bluffs. Under a moon almost too big to be real last summer, the would-be Henry Sibley High 11th grader picked the wrong person to rob. Broadbent pulled a handgun on a man who had a permit to carry.
"Empty your pockets!" said the masked teenager, standing three feet away and pointing a gun.
Instead of handing over his valuables, the victim pulled out his own holstered weapon and fired several shots at Broadbent, who died July 31, 2015.
Seven months after gunfire killed his 16-year-old brother, Daiezon Broadbent, age 24, drove into an alley near East Seventh Street and Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul to buy some pot. Along for the ride was Tristian Ballard, who thought an herb transaction required bringing a handgun.
Ballard shot 20-year-old D’Onjay Jackson in the head in a deal gone awry.
"I don’t know where the cycle of violence can be broken,” Jackson's mother, Darnella Wade, told the Pioneer Press. She's still waiting for her child to wake from a vegetative state.
Trahern Crews has taken up a position where it begins, at the nexus of a "crisis" that's being powered by self hate.
"Whether it's education, television, banking systems, there's a lot of hate instilled out there that teaches people of color to hate themselves, hate their eyes, hate their ears, hate their nose," he says. "When you hate yourself... it's easier to hate other people who look like you and that leads to violence."
Crews started #BlackTruce to advocate for a summer of non-violence. He was joined by Wade and about 50 other marchers in St. Paul last week to declare that the end of violence in urban communities starts with each person loving thyself.
"There's been nobody in Minnesota focusing on these self-hate crimes," Crews tells City Pages. "We're going to dig deeper into love, not just telling the community what love is. But engaging the community about what they think love is."
That's estimated to start in two weeks in backyards, at kitchen tables.
"It's going to be BBQs, football games, other kinds of events that bring people together," he continues. "It's not always about protesting, which I love to do. It's about bringing the community together through other ways too."