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Friendly Soccer Match Aims to Improve Community, Police Relations


Story by Tyler Berg







A group of police officers squared off with a multi-cultural community group Saturday in a friendly soccer match.

The match is meant to help bring the two entities together after heightened tensions between police and communities throughout the country.It was organized between Brooklyn Park's Police Department, the Brooklyn Center Police Department and the Gentlemen's Club of Suburban Hennepin.

The Gentleman's Club of Suburban Hennepin was organized last year, in part, to encourage and promote men to take an active and positive role in the community. It's comprised, primarily, of men with ties to about six different African countries. Organizers were immediately reminded how dire the need is for the relationship-building event.

"Before the game started, some of them came up and said 'Oh the police are here, I think they're scanning our vehicles," said the club's Stephen Wreh-Wilson. "They're kind of scared, so that tells you there's a perception problem."

The Gentleman's Club hopes to repair that perception in the community's youth to build an appreciation for police. An appreciation 19-year-old Amir Sasso already has.

"It just shows you how passionate and just humble they are," said Sasso. "I mean, they could have been working, spending time with their families."

Brooklyn Park's Deputy Police Chief Todd Milburn said it may just be a friendly soccer game, but events like it are needed now more than ever.

"It's everything," said Milburn. "We know local, national and regional events are a big topic of concern for people here for sure. What do we do about that? We have these kinds of events to continue the dialogue."

Wreh-Wilson said it's up to the community to meet the police half way.

"We think it's part of our duty to be able to work along with the police, and bring the community along so we can have perfect relations."

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