It was 1994.
The Twin Cities were about to get slammed by an unprecedented deluge of gang- and drug-related homicides and other violence. The victims as well as the perpetrators would mostly be black — usually young men rushed to emergency rooms with gaping bullet holes or driven without any rush to city morgues in body bags.
This was a time before placing makeshift memorials at the sites of young deaths became a popular ritual.
Not then. Not yet. The sites mostly were marked with pools of blood eventually hosed down or washed away, as well as “do not cross” police tape pulled down after the proper record- and evidence-keeping protocol was completed.
But St. Paul native and veteran cop Melvin Carter Jr. realized then, before the carnage that afflicted both the Saintly City and, on a much larger scale, the Mill City, that it was time to act.
There were far too many misguided, lost and fatherless kids on the streets, he reasoned. Along with community activist Willie Nesbit, the then-19-year police veteran formalized a youth-mentoring and outreach effort. The two men came up with a catchy name that also denoted the effort’s ultimate goal: Save Our Sons...