Etta Riley has learned to listen for a hiss when she hears pops erupt outside her Minneapolis townhouse. The hiss brings relief. It means that bottle rockets are being fired in her neighborhood, not guns.
Riley, a 57-year-old school bus driver, remembers waiting for that reassuring sound one night in May. A group of strangers had gathered on a boulevard near her house — again — to throw dice, blast "cussing music" and drink from beer cans that would litter the street come morning. The gambling worried her. She has seen it lead to fights, which lead to guns. She called 911 and watched out the window as a police cruiser passed by and didn't even slow down.
Soon a crackle filled the air. This time, there was no hiss.
Riley stepped outside that night and watched police cordon off the nearby convenience store with yellow tape. She found out Aniya Allen, a kindergartner, had been shot there. She wonders if it would have made a difference if police had really shown up that night.