Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tragedy comes to the Seward neighborhood

I like the Seward neighborhood. Lots of old hippies and young immigrants make for an interesting place to live and do business, but last night tragedy struck our peaceful community.

Early in the evening armed thugs shot and killed three men, all members of the Somali family that owned and operated the Seward Market & Halal Meats just east of True Thai Restaurant. From the Star Tribune:

Police said they don't know the motive behind the killings but believe it was an apparent failed robbery at a south Minneapolis market.

The shootings shocked residents of what a police spokesman called "a pretty good neighborhood" and brought the city's 2010 homicide count to four just one week into the year.

Police did not identify the victims of the shootings at Seward Market and Halal Meats, on E. Franklin and 25th Avenues, but Abdirizak Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis, said they were Somali immigrants, cousins who had pooled their money to buy the market.

"They come from a well-known family in the Somali community, a hard-working family," Bihi said. "This is very shocking."

One of the victims, he said, has seven children.

Everyone in the neighborhood is shocked and saddened. I understand that there are Americans who do not like Muslims, but there are many Somalis in the Seward neighborhood and we all get along just fine. Some in Seward have lived here all their lives, some are immigrants, and some of us just do business here, but we all consider ourselves a part of the community and what hurts some of us hurts all of us.

I do not know why grocery stores are victimized by violent crimes when sit down restaurants so rarely are. Maybe it's because grocery stores are sometimes mostly empty but restaurants always have lots of customers and staff (eyewitnesses) around.

KARE-11 says police are asking eyewitnesses to come forward:
City officials are asking anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward with information. Calls are being taken by Minneapolis Sgt Kjos at 612-673-3085 and Sgt. Porras at 612-673-3572.
I hope they get lots of good leads because Seward will not sleep well until these killers are caught.

(You can see pictures from last night's memorial service here.)

Monday, January 4, 2010

My old church

My old church got quite the facelift this year. I have told you about how eight Catholic families fled Vietnam a hundred years ago and came to Thailand to raise their children. The Catholic church in Chanthaburi has gone through many changes over the years but this year they went all out.

This is the church I grew up in. Our house was a block away, right behind the Cathedral.

It's changed quite a bit this last year thanks to many donations (including one from Anna!) and a lot of hard work. So much so that I even found a blog post about the renovations written by an expatriate Brit living Chanthaburi.

I grew up thinking it was the most beautiful church in the world, but after seeing pictures of the newly renovated cathedral I cannot wait to go home and see it again. At first I could not believe my eyes. It was as if my church had been replaced by Disney's Church of Tomorrow!

The celebration of the unveiling of Mary was spectacular!

Even from behind our new Mary is quite impressive. Her apparel is made from precious stones.

All I can say is wow. This all began with eight families who grew to be 38,000 Thai Catholics. Speaking as one of those Thai Catholics, I am very proud of my new old church.