Unseasonably warm weather has been a problem for the Mankato snow shovel gangs, with some saying it has led them to resort to intimidation tactics and and outright war for survival.
The gangs, who can typically be seen roaming the neighborhoods of the city looking for sidewalks or driveways to shovel, have become increasingly desperate for sources of income. And some say increasingly brazen in their methods.
“It was unreal.” Said Cindy Bakerstaff of Thompson Ravine Road, “They all came to my door, seven or eight of them, dressed in t-shirts and sneakers. They asked if I needed my driveway shoveled for twenty bucks.
“I said “That's nuts! There's not even any snow!' but they didn't say anything. They just went and scrapped their shovels along my driveway like they were really shoveling snow. They wouldn't leave until I paid them.”
Shovel gang members are typically males with ages ranging from teens to middle age. Most picture them as broken, desperate men who have lost everything but their shovel or wandering youth lured by the romantic gang scene. But the members themselves, like Big Scoop of the Lower North gang says that in these tough economic times, they are just guys trying to survive.
“We didn't make this weather, but if we have to hustle to survive it, so be it. I don't see the mayor or governor sending us any snow, so I guess we just do what we have to do.” said Big Scoop from the Lower North's clubhouse.
Others have said they have witnessed sights much more horrifying than mere intimidation. An anonymous source on Blue Earth Street says he was witness to two gangs who had wandered into each others path.“It was horrifying. They were going at each other with shovels and thermoses. They were even riding on slow blowers like horses and charging into each other...the sound of those teeth locking together...it's something that will haunt me the rest of my days.”