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Community coffee shop combats violence

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There's an old saying: be the change you want to see in the world. Then there's Cheryl Johnson.

"They look in and say hi, they wave," she said.

Johnson just opened The Urban Skald, a community-focused coffee shop off 5th St. in Waterloo. It's a neighborhood that struggles with acts of violence.

"The largest concern is keeping people safe," she said. "The violence is the issue. There's a lot of it lately."

Johnson lived in Waterloo about seven years ago. Recently, she moved back, and was shocked by the struggles in her neighborhood. Then she spotted the abandoned building at the corner of 5th and Baltimore.

"It was empty, and had been for a while," she said.

Turns out, there are some things we do for other people in our lives. And then there are some things, we can't not do.

"I just kept thinking about it, and thinking about it," she said.

They've only been open for a few weeks, but now, The Urban Skald is a place for people to gather. Johnson said she hopes it helps keep kids off the streets. She's already seeing that come back -- just Thursday, her son was assaulted just a block away. Would-be thieves tried to steal his bike. Except Keyon Garner, Keyon Jackson, and Jadael Roby were playing basketball nearby, and intervened.

"It was bogus, he was little," Garner said.

"We woke him up, he was asleep," said Jackson.

The boys were in the shop just days before.

"I feel like because we made that connection, that that was a moment in time where they could have looked the other way, and they didn't," Johnson said.

"We were like, you good?" said Jackson.

A community, coming together to protect their own. For Cheryl, that's music to her ears.

"The reality is that every kid has the right to step outside their door and be safe, and be a kid, and play," she said. "I'm trying to make that happen."

Police are still investigating the assault. They say they're close to making an arrest.

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