St. Cloud hatred lives on

This has been a very tough couple of days for our Somali American neighbors, due to the police shooting in Minneapolis. The backlash that the Somali community as a whole has received is, to me, absolutely ridiculous, and most certainly steeped in white supremacy, racism, and Islamophobia. I don’t throw those words around lightly, so, here is just a sliver of ugly proof.

Here in Central MN, the Facebook pages of our Islamic Centers are under attack as well:

I could write blog after blog about the differences in the way this case is talked about versus the shooting of Phillando Castille, but, you’ve probably already read all of that so I will go on to other disturbing, local news.

At the most recent St. Cloud City Council meeting, a line of people got up to speak during the Open Forum time when the community can talk to the Council, but the Council can not talk back to them. If you watch the video below you will hear our neighbors (fully within their right for free speech, mind you) walk up to the mic and dehumanize our Somali neighbors. I list out some of the heartbreaking, fear-mongering points below the video.

“I am standing here as a 5th generation Central MN Citizen. We have grave concern over our Constitutional Law being replaced with foreign law.”

“Christians (have been) slapped with a $12,000 fine for not removing shoes – this could happen here.”

“Several of you Council members have been pleading with other members to have a study session about these grave concerns. Your constituents say it’s time right now to do it.”

“Come up with solutions – and let us know what you are going to do to save our city.”

“Are there any rules that immigrants coming in to this city have to live by? One said to me ‘Well, you’re German, right? You came here and now there are many of you, and we’re doing the same thing – there will be lots of us!’ What are the rules in St. Cloud? You need to list them and let us know what you’re asking immigrants to do when they come in here.”

“Who is paying for them? Who is supplying the lots they live on, their food? And their kids going to college – who is paying for that?”

“We’re not going to survive by 4,000 kids a day being born in this town. If you think we are going to survive, it’s over. We have to have some rules. Language, borders, and culture – I want you to think seriously about that and give us some good answers.”

“There is growing concern about the alarming costs of refugee resettlement to our communities and so, for my children’s sake, and your children’s sake, we are beginning the arduous task of collecting data on this stealth invasion. We are here to request information from you: How many refugees are coming? From where? And what will be the costs? How do the expected arrivals fit the city plan? Who should I follow up with in a couple weeks with this information?”
ANSWER: A letter will be sent to you from the Administration.

“I want to discuss the ongoing, enormous problems that the refugees have brought to this town. You’re all aware of it. Most of you have been talking about this for years. Why will you not discuss a problem that all of us see daily?”

“In the United States – we believe in the rule of law, based on the Constitution and Bill of Rights – not Sharia Law. Under Sharia law, non-Muslims are considered 3rd class. I’m not 3rd class.”

“Many people say ‘it’s not about Islam or about Sharia Law’ – IT IS. Sharia law is the basis for every demand that Muslims make on society today – whether it be special treatment in hospitals, books being vetted, women wearing head scarfs, the ownership of their bride, 4 male witnesses to provide a testimony against a rape. This is not what America stands for – and it is not what my home – St. Cloud – stands for. ”

“Members of the City Council, you must stand up. You must look to your constituents. You must look to your neighborhoods. You must do what is in your heart. If you’re Christian, I ask you to pray on it. Deliberate. Go to God. Find your answers. He will tell you beyond a certain doubt that this is not America, this is not safe for our neighborhoods, and this is not safe for our schools.”

So, what now? Well, more of the same, I suppose. Love your neighbor. Know your neighbor. Be ready to stand up for your neighbor. If this kind of rhetoric happens in a meeting you attend, speak out against it. Where were the people that spoke up in this meeting? If I was at that meeting and heard this nonsense going on, I would have gotten in line right behind them and addressed my fears that people on the City Council of the city that my kids go to school in and I work in have been talking about “this” behind closed doors? Under the table?

Good night – stop hiding in the shadows, City Council members. If you are have won a seat to represent the WHOLE city of St. Cloud and you are taking meetings and making plans with people that literally want some of your constituents to not be here, what are you doing? At least have the guts to come out and say it in public if this is the way you plan to use your power and influence. And, if that’s not the way you feel, SPEAK OUT LOUDLY and say that ALL are welcome in St. Cloud. I have heard that many times from St. Cloud Mayor, Dave Kleis. Shouldn’t it be said by the governing body of the City too?

Yes, it’s your job. Yes, it’s your fight. Yes, you have a platform from which this can be heard loud and clear. So use it. Say more than just “thank you” as the people you serve use your platform to dehumanize their neighbors.

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for about a decade. She now works in an immigration law office and is the Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in St. Cloud. She is also the Vice-Chair of the Stride Academy school board, a charter school located in St. Cloud. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.