Southeast Como talks safety in wake of sexual assault - KMSP-TV

Southeast Como neighborhood talks safety in wake of sexual assault

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People in the Southeast Como neighborhood have a lot of questions following a recent sexual assault near Van Cleve Park, and on Friday night, they gathered to share resources and discuss measures to stay safe.

Organizers emphasized getting to know and trusting neighbors, and a pastor at the meeting handed out keys to remind everyone coming together as a community is a "key" to safety.

"I was in the dining room when everyone got the crime alert and all the girls freaked out and were like, ‘Oh my gosh, that could have been me, I walk there all the time,'" Minnesota student MaCall Biebel said.

The recent rape of a 19-year-old University of Minnesota student by a group of three men near Van Cleve Park continues to fuel anger and some fear.

"For it to happen that much in the open, tells us that we need to be out in the open, we will not tolerate that, we are going to take action," Southeast Christian Church pastor Brett Miller said.

The park is right across the street from Southeast Christian Church, where an in depth discussion about sexual violence and safety strategies drew dozens of community members who want to be part of the solution.

"You can't be an easy target, and you need to take precautions in order to make yourself a little safer," Minnesota student Cody Olson said.

The neighborhood is minutes from the U of M campus and is a mix of established residents and students.

"I know this year right now we are at five sexual assaults on record with the police department," Ricardo McCurley with the Southeast Como Neighborhood Improvement Association said. He helped pass out fliers this week, warning residents to be aware of their surroundings and hopes this gathering is another step in reducing sexual violence in his community.

Police have added a surveillance camera to the intersection where this most recent sexual assault happened and have stepped up patrols, but community leaders saying police can't take care of all the crime and the community needs to step up.

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