Category: Dakota Hate (page 1 of 2)

Series of stories on racism in North Dakota, how an isolated state’s small towns are being targeted by white supremacists, and desperate residents fight against the invasion. From Nazis to the KKK, the Creativity Movement to supremacists, the Peace Garden State has been steeped in racism disguised as “North Dakota Nice” for more than 100 years.

Speaker at NDSU Purports Racist and Anti-LGBTQ Agenda

Pre-organized advertisement speaker linked to Confederate hate group

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – A week before William Fleck decided to attend an anti-LGBTQ speech at NDSU, a transgender friend committed suicide. Fleck’s friend was bullied. He was persecuted – locally – and driven to a desperate act.

Fleck knew what he was walking into when he entered the Memorial Prairie Rose Room on October 17, but the audience’s acceptance still shocked him.

He attended the speech entitled “Religious Freedom and the Constitution,” organized by the Lutheran Student Fellowship Organization, and delivered by Jake MacAulay, the chief operating officer of the Institute on the Constitution.

Jake MacAulay with Pastor Steve Schultz and Representative Chris Olson at NDSU – MacAulay Instagram photo

The Institute on the Constitution is more than another benign-sounding name. At a time when the AltRight is twisting semantics to soften their collective messages, it’s listed as a legal arm of Michael Peroutka of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is also reported as a theocratic, Christian nationalist outfit run by white supremacists, according to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.

“I just wanted to make sure that I could tell the people that they could talk to me if they had questions,” Fleck said, “so that suicides like my friend’s would never happen again. When you get this far right, the opinions and other viewpoints tend to fade away. I needed to interject a new viewpoint that was personal to me.”

The speech focused on homeschooling, but also implied that being LGBTQ should be illegal, and defended slavery by advocating George Washington’s slavery practices weren’t so bad, because he let them stay in their houses when they became too old to work.  

“It became quite obvious from the get-go that this was a lot more political,” Fleck said. “It was a very Libertarian Christian mixture. From the get-go, I wanted to go speak there so I could show these people there is a different side of things. He compared being LGBTQ to jumping off a building. You wouldn’t want someone to jump off a building, so why would we let people be LGBTQ? It was very subtle.”

While MacAulay spoke, the audience listened, sometimes nodding and communicating verbal agreement, Fleck said.

“The audience was very receptive and engaged,” Fleck said. “The speaker would often have mottos on slides and ask the audience to repeat them with him.  They would occasionally verbally agree with the speaker when he made a point that they agreed with.”

With approximately 30 people in the audience, no one spoke against MacAulay, Fleck said.

“No one did anything,” Fleck said. “I was really shocked. It was blatant racism. It was insane.”

The speaker was advertised on the NDSU website as a “discussion on the American view of law and government, the Biblical purpose of civil government, how to combat Common Core,” among other issues. The advertisement reported the Institute on the Constitution as an educational outreach organization presenting American founders’ view of American law and government, and that MacAulay is an ordained minister who established the American Club, a constitutional study group.

When MacAulay spoke of America’s first president’s slavery practices, Fleck couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“I was shocked, my mouth dropped, and my mouth has never dropped before,” Fleck said. “I’m interested in LGBTQ+ rights because I have been harassed almost my entire life for being LGBTQ, and have had many transgender friends who have suffered unimaginable pain because people treat them terribly. I think that awareness of racism is stronger than ever, but that the awareness has caused many to push back and expose deep racial tensions in America that were previously ignored or swept under the rug.”

Fleck was the only one to speak out, he said, and he waited until the end.

“I did that during the Q and A session because I didn’t want to interrupt him. The speaker intentionally wanted people to get riled up and even said at one point that he wished there was a wall full of protestors.”

When Fleck finally spoke, he didn’t address the speaker, he talked to the audience.

“Do not address these people, ignore them, they are playing a culture war,” Fleck said.

The speech comes after white supremacist fliers were found on NDSU campus, after letters from the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were sent to the university’s newspaper, as well as many other campus newspapers in North Dakota and across the nation, and after another speaker earlier in the school year tried to promote an anti-LGBTQ agenda.

MacAuley was formerly involved with the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition, and also with the Minnesota-based “hard rock homophobic ministry, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide International,” according to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.

The group’s leader, Bradley Dean Smith, has been quoted saying it is moral to execute LGBT people.

MacAuley also claims that “half of the murders in large cities were committed by homosexuals,” according to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.

After the speech, Fleck approached a member of the organizing committee, Lutheran Student Fellowship Organization, and asked if they had done adequate background checks on the speaker. The response he received disappointed him.

“These are our views on the Constitution,” the person reportedly said.  

Fleck is active in politics. He’s president of the NDSU College Democrats, program director for College Democrats of North Dakota, and he’s also a volunteer for the transgender advocacy organization called the Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation.

Sadie Rudolph, media relations coordinator at NDSU, said students are authorized to invite speakers to their own events.   The university’s institutional equity and compliance statement says it is “fully committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action,” and its policies enforce a “strong denouncement of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.”

Attempts were made to contact Lutheran Student Fellowship Organization President Jared Rudolph, advisor Benton Duncan, and treasurer Holly Johnson, but none replied.

 

College newspapers targeted by KKK

Since Charlottesville, Ku Klux Klan attempts to appeal to college minds

By C.S. Hagen
VALLEY CITY – The White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are targeting North Dakota university newspapers in a cry for help: a book banning.

So far, Valley City State University’s ‘Viking News,’ and NDSU’s ‘The Spectrum,’ have received a letter postmarked Fort Myers, Florida, with no return address, from someone claiming to be a “Loyal American Patriot,” asking for for help banning a book titled ‘The Slave Players,’ by Megan Allen, published by Burn House Publishing.

KKK letter sent to university newspapers in North Dakota

“Dear Editor: Recently, we have come under extreme fire for being a hate group,” the KKK letter began. “This couldn’t be further from the truth. We follow the teachings of the Bible and only wish to keep the white race pure as God intended for his chosen people. Only those who live in ignorance call us hateful.”

The anonymous writer then targets “loudmouth literature,” a work of fiction and a love story, which was “clearly written just to agitate the college-educated, who always think they have a better answer for the woes of the world.”

The KKK letter writer further states Allen is a “white woman who knows little about white society.”

On the Burn House Publishing website, Allen mentions the KKK targeting her book on October 10. “I really just set out to write a novel about racial injustice and maybe weave in a good love story. And the AltRight has decided to beat the hell out of me for it. It must be good though, or they wouldn’t care so much.”

Burn House Publishing also replied, stressing that the critics are refusing to identify themselves. “To the skeptic who wrote us. The Southern Poverty Law Center is currently investigating the KKK attacks on our behalf. They have great resources and lots of experience in tracking down and exposing them for what they are.”

Since the Charlottesville, Virginia rallies in August, which left one woman dead, the AltRight and other pro-white activist groups appear to have changed tactics. Instead of marching with tiki torches, they’re sending out mail to further agendas. Pro-white hate groups have also attempted to become more socially acceptable in recent years, replacing words like “genocide” with “ethnic replacement,” not using “white nationalist,” and choosing “identitarian” instead.

Groups like the KKK also maintain that whites may not be superior, but that whites need a homeland of their own. Instead of saying, “purge non-white people,” they twist semantics to call such minority groups criminals, rapists, and terrorists.

Halfway through the letter, the writer quoted a line from the book, which the KKK finds hateful.

Envelope used to target a student newspaper in Valley City, ND

“There will come a time when blacks stop praying for salvation and start praying for bombs of their own,” the letter stated.

“Who says that? That’s the kind of hateful talk that can start a racial uprising, and is about as un-American as you can get. Most Americans we talk to support the banning of this book. Brown or colored or white it should make no difference. Hate is hate.”

The KKK is currently attempting to apply pressure on Google to have the website taken down.

“They’ve been sending those to school papers for a while if they got down to the V’s,” Jenni Lou Russi, a media teacher and editor at Valley City State University said. She found the letter in school mail on Tuesday.

The envelope is handwritten, but the letter is typed, a form letter, with the KKK logo on the upper left hand side. The incident isn’t Russi’s first brush with racist organizations. A few years ago someone put a swastika on the sidewalk in front of her house the night before the first night of Chanukah.

“Is this demographic their market?” Russi said. Why were college newspapers targeted instead of professional media?

Jack Hastings, editor in chief of NDSU’s “The Spectrum,” said he had just received the letter, and wasn’t sure what his office was going to do with it yet.

“I guess I’m surprised and slightly disturbed by it too,” Hastings said. “First off, the presence of a group such as the KKK surprised me, but now they’re targeting college campuses. Seeing this delivered to our office is upsetting to me.”

College campuses are places of study, full of potentially susceptible minds eager to learn more about the world they’re preparing to enter.  

“Most college papers are pretty liberal, maybe they’re trying to sway that,” Hastings said. “This letter seems like a call to action. It has the potential to maybe grow, and it could pick up easily on a campus, more than a city newspaper.”

About a week ago, the campus was hit with “Identity Evropa,” white supremacist posters, which were quickly taken down, Hastings said. “Identity Evropa” is a defined as a racist white supremacist organization by the Anti-Defamation League, and designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Despite hate group attempts to reach out to college students, Hastings said he believes most people won’t be persuaded.

“It seems like everyone is aware that this is not ethical or even moral,” Hastings said. “I feel like the public here is pretty accepting and accommodating to people when it comes to race.”

Other university newspapers were called for comment, but would not go on record or could not be reached.

 

Hate crime resolution passes in Fargo

With the recent uptick in local hate crimes, the city says no more

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Fargo City Commissioners passed a resolution to establish the city as a hate-free community on Monday, and one commissioner voted against the bill.

The resolution was originally written by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, and passed unanimously by the Human Relations Commission in September, before it was handed over to city officials. The resolution requires city leaders to officially recognize hate crimes, speak out when hate crimes are committed, and puts additional pressure on the city to become a more inclusive city.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn was the lone voice against the resolution, which passed before a room full of concerned citizens.

“It doesn’t accomplish anything,” Piepkorn said after the meeting. “We got more important things to do.”

Human Relations Commission Chair Rachel Hoffman presented the resolution saying it was a statement about Fargo being an inclusive community, and that the city will no longer tolerate hate crimes.

“Asking us to weigh in on an inclusive memorandum for our city, the exact same resolution went before Moorhead, and will go before West Fargo, and will be a regional approach to the issue of inclusion,” City Commissioner John Strand said.

He reminded city leaders and the crowd present that this was the week that white supremacist rallies and counter rallies were planned days following the Charlottesville, Virginia AltRight rally that left one woman, Heather Heyer, dead.

“That is part of the context about inclusion, and we want to be positive and inclusive of all people,” Strand said. He went on to point out that weeks ago Amazon was looking for a city to invest in, and people asked “Why not Fargo?” Strand said.

“Inclusion is a fundamental requirement by Amazon,” Strand said. “They will only move to a community that is inclusive, and this is a contemporary topic and one we should be embracing in every regard, and we should always be respectful of every individual, and protecting of every individual.”

North Dakota currently does not have hate crime legislation; Minnesota does. Already in 2017, Fargo has documented at least six crimes that were racially motivated, or are being investigated as potentially racially motivated crimes.

Barry Nelson, of North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, is one of the leaders who plans to propose hate crime legislation to state government in 2018. An attempt at establishing hate crime laws was previously made, and failed, but today, North Dakota is second in the nation for hate crime incidents, per capita.

To combat hate crimes, which are different than crimes of a similar nature, laws must be made, advocates of hate crime legislation say. Hate crimes are different because they are based on hate, intolerance, and misunderstanding, and victims can possibly be chosen at random, as in the case at a local Walmart when Amber Elizabeth Hensley screamed, “We’re going to kill all of you…” to three Somali American women this summer.

The resolution comes at a time when the city is also looking into discovering the costs of refugees, a movement spearheaded by Dave Piepkorn, who sees refugee resettlement as an “unfunded mandate,” and maintains that the state should have more of a say in deciding how many refugees it can take per year.

During the same city commissioners’ meeting,, Fargo Cass Public Health Director Ruth Roman gave a report saying her agency looked at the Family Health Care Center, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, and Cultural Diversity Resources for interpreting services, and decided the city should stick with Family Health Care Center.

Typically, $25,000 is used per year for translation and interpreter fees, but the costs are increasing up to approximately $36,000, Roman said.

Currently, Fargo is footing the bill for translation and interpretation fees on medical issues, monies which are not entirely used on refugees. International students, visitors, among others, are included in such services, Roman said.

“Yes, some of this is for our new Americans,” Roman said. “But not all are refugees.”

Interpretation services must be offered to obtain other federal monies, Roman said. At first she relied on family members to help translate, but that tactic proved to be unreliable at best.

“We should be getting reimbursed, this is Fargo money and it’s very confusing and I’m not that bright of a guy,” Piepkorn said. He added that 80 percent of the refugees coming to North Dakota are brought to Fargo.

“I’m asking about tax monies, and I don’t apologize for asking these questions,” Piepkorn said. “What’s funny is that they’re the ones calling me racial epithets, isn’t that funny? But I got thick skin.”

“I want us to be cautious that we do not single any groups out,” Strand said. “All citizens deserve equitable treatment under the law.”

Modern feudalism: tenant vs. landlord

Moorhead family given eviction notice after requesting repairs to rental property

By C.S. Hagen
MOORHEAD – Water seeps into the Barbly family rental house, and has been leaking for two years, creating mold, eating away at trim, and forcing the family’s five children upstairs to sleep on the living room floor.

The company managing the property at 1510 34th Avenue South says the family is responsible, and linked the seepage to a sump pump hose placed too close to the building, and also to gutters, according to letters sent to the Barbly family.

Last week, after three years renting the two-story duplex, and a day before mother Hawa Barbly was going to send an official complaint to the company, the Barblys received a 30-day eviction notice from Prairie Property Management.

Hawa Barbly and children where they currently sleep due to seapage issues in basement – photo by C.S. Hagen

The Barbly family’s contract with Prairie Property Management states the family is only responsible for mowing the lawn and shoveling snow, Gabriel Barbly, the father, said. Minnesota law states that tenants are not responsible for property upkeep, unless written in the contract and provided reimbursement in writing for their work, supervising attorney for the Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Heidi Uecker said.

“That’s not the tenant’s problem,” Uecker said. “Under Minnesota law a tenant can be responsible for doing upkeep or repairs to the rental property, if they were responsible for sump pump care, location, repair issues, that has to be in their lease in writing, and they have to be compensated for doing so.

“Otherwise, they’d be a homeowner if they wanted to be responsible for a sump pump. That’s the landlord’s responsibility all day long.

Two years ago, Gabriel moved the sump pump line, but water still leaked in, he said. Gabriel is the pastor of the Bethel World Outreach Church – Fargo, at the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, and his wife is a former dental assistant struggling through her fourth year battling cancer. Cancer forced her to quit her job at Apple Tree Dental, in Hawley, four years ago.

The Barblys have repeatedly tried to reach out to the Fargo-based property management company, but to little avail. Prairie Property Management is listed as a full-service property management company locally owned and operated since 1996, according to the company’s website. The company maintains more than 2,500 rental units, ranging from efficiency apartments to high-end townhomes.

Never before late on a monthly rental of $1,200, both have decent credit, Hawa Barbly said. Among other costs, the Barblys paid $157 out of pocket for a carpet cleaning, paid another $144 to have the sump pump hose redirected, and paid another bill of $1,278 for an inspection by Environmental Air Solution.

“There is something wrong with the foundation,” Gabriel said. “This is beyond me.”

Cookie-cutter duplexes to the Barbly’s left and right don’t have the same issues, Gabriel said.

“We don’t want to leave this for someone else.” Hawa said. An oxygen machine whirs beside her, pumping air into her nostrils. She began her fight with colon cancer, but Sanford documentation says the cancer has spread to her lungs. “We don’t want another family coming in here and experiencing the same problem.”

Downstairs, wood has rotted away from where water has leaked in. A chunk of wall has been cut out.

Gabrial and Hawa Barbly at home – photo by C.S. Hagen

Hawa wrote a letter of complaint for “numerous ill-treatment” and was preparing to send it when she received the eviction notice. They’re trying to find a lawyer, but no one wants to take their case. Heidi Uecker said cases like Barblys’ might be exactly what her organization looks for.

“We called many times with issues and problems with the property, and your office will delay to attend to us; we didn’t push, assuming, maybe there was a load of repair calls,” Hawa wrote in the letter.

The family called on September 25 with two issues related to the leakage and ensuing mold. “We first called about this almost two years ago, your office again delayed to come in and when you finally sent someone in they only brought a huge blow dryer and ripped the carpet strips from that side of the walls, which have not been replaced since, and left.”

Concerned about her children’s health and her continuing battle with cancer, she made all her children sleep upstairs in the living room. A company repairman came a second time, citing gutter issues. The Barblys’ gutters are identical to houses on either side.

“I expect them to help us relocate, or pay the $1,200 for an inspection,” Hawa said. “But now they’re kicking us out. No lawyer will help us in Fargo, as they’re all in cahoots.”

“While we set high standards and utilize a process-driven approach, at the end of the day, our reputation is earned through a consistent commitment to service and by nurturing high-quality relationships,” the company’s website stated.

Repeated attempts were made to contact Prairie Property Management personnel responsible for the Barbly residence, but a company employee said unless the Barblys gave written permission to respond, they would not talk about the issue.

Gabriel said he gave a handwritten note to company management on Tuesday afternoon, and after repeated calls, no response was given.

If the Barblys do not move out before noon on Halloween, October 31, the management company stated they will be charged $2,500, as permitted by the state (holdover clause).

“There is no law that I am aware of that would allow the landlord to force them to pay $2,500,” Uecker said.

Although Uecker cannot comment on a specific case, she said a landlord cannot evict a tenant because they want repairs made. Such an eviction is called a retaliatory eviction.

“It happens a lot, especially to our poorest and most vulnerable of people, because they are scared to fight, because they are scared about getting a bad reference, they just leave and end up in shelters or on the streets because the landlord does this to them.”

By and large, Minnesota has much greater protection for tenants than the state of North Dakota does. Minnesota has programs allowing tenants and landlords to enter courts on their own to force a landlord to make repairs, Uecker said.

“If something is affecting people’s health and safety, we obviously pursue these things,” Uecker said. “We probably are the only organization of attorneys, it’s my job, providing good outcomes for people to avoid homelessness and to keep health and sanitary housing where they are at, is of utmost importance to us.”

Cody Schuler, executive director of the F-M Coalition for Homeless Persons, agreed that North Dakota is far behind Minnesota as to current legislation about fair housing.

“Landlords tend to be jack wagons, that can be a true statement,” Schuler said. “I think from a fair housing standpoint, we have some crappy laws here in North Dakota. Minnesota is obviously better, as it’s a more progressive state as a whole.”

“We need a tenant’s union in this state,” Michelle Rydz, of the High Plains Fair Housing Center, an advocacy organization in Grand Forks for fair housing, said. “Renters have no voice.”

A landlord is responsible for maintenance of premises, according to North Dakota law, and must comply with current building and housing codes affecting health and safety of tenants. A tenant is responsible for maintenance of the dwelling unit, complying with obligations such as keeping the area clean, safe, removing rubbish, keeping plumbing fixtures clean, and not to deliberately or negligently destroy part(s) of the premises.

A tenant may make repairs and deduct costs from the rent, according to North Dakota law.

At times, landlords also abuse their tenants and get away with it, Rydz said. That’s where her organization steps in.

“I have to say that as a fair housing advocate, I do see instances where some bad actors are targeting the most vulnerable, especially new Americans, because of the language barrier,” Rydz said.

‘No one should have to be afraid’

Details of a faked adoption, mother-to-be speaks about how she was duped

By C.S. Hagen
WOODWORTH
 – Autym Burke spent months preparing a nursery for the child she thought she was to adopt.

Living in Oregon, she’d seen pictures and videos of the Native American baby she planned to name “Ruby.” The paperwork seemed to be in order, at first, the caseworker seemed legitimate. After all, Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-ND, included her in a campaign video.

The reported caseworker, Betty Jo Krenz, was included in a 2014-campaign advertisement approved by Cramer. She also spoke at a congressional subcommittee meeting involving Cramer, and bragged about her relationship with the North Dakota congressman and a presidential candidate, Burke said.

“In the beginning she did mention her tie to him [Cramer] several times,” Burke said. “She also said she was a friend of Ben Carson. It was really only in the beginning. I’m sure it was to gain our trust.”

Betty Jo Krenz in Kevin Cramer campaign ad – YouTube

Burke spoke of Carson, the neurosurgeon, and former presidential candidate, currently the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump Administration.

Krenz also said she was a nominee for the 2017 L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth Award, Burke said, for which anyone can be nominated but only 10 finalists are accepted. Spokespeople for the prestigious award affirmed Krenz had been nominated, but was not selected.

“Embarrassing that we fell for this nonsense,” Burke said. “But when I checked out the Congressman Cramer thing, it was legit.”

Cramer was contacted for comment repeatedly by telephone and emails. Cramer’s Communication Director, Adam Jorde, replied saying, “Congressman Cramer is unavailable for your interview request.”

Krenz, approximately 46, was a former caseworker for Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services until she was fired in 2011, and is currently under investigation for fraud and being involved in fake adoption proceedings by the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department. Krenz has a long criminal record involving forgery and bad checks under her current surname and a former surname, Edland, from 1998 until 2015, according to North Dakota court records.

She appeared in Cramer’s campaign ad entitled “No One Should Have To Be Afraid” in 2014. Three years later, the video had 314 views and 15 subscribers on YouTube.

Approximately 1,500 miles away in South Dakota, “Ruby’s” birth mother, Jodie Blackboy, a registered member of the Spirit Lake Nation, knew nothing about her infant daughter being a candidate for adoption. Her baby’s real name is Julissa, and said in a Facebook post that the scam continued behind her back for eight months.

“I did not know Betty Jo Krenz was using my daughter’s pictures for her own gain,” Blackboy said. She discovered what she called a scam through a Facebook post from Burke.

“My daughter was never up for adoption and I’m not going to jail for drugs,” Blackboy wrote in a public September 23 Facebook post. “I trusted this woman for years, almost let her take my child, thank God I didn’t, I would have never got her back, and only to find out she was in it for my child.”

The same day she posted a picture of Krenz and titled it: “Human child trafficker alert.”

Another Facebook conversation written by Amber Jo, who claimed to be Krenz’s daughter, said her mother is “as corrupt as the person who fired her, and as far as I’m concerned, she should not be around children herself. I know her well, I’m her own blood, and this lady has no right to be around those children.”

The alleged long con
A family friend who wishes to remain anonymous introduced Krenz to Burke in February this year.

“First contact with her was over the phone,” Burke said. “Before this ordeal was complete, we had communicated by phone, text, Messenger, and she even came to my home in Oregon to conduct what we now know to be a fake home study to make sure we were qualified to adopt this little baby girl. She inspected our home and spent a great deal of time with us over the course of a week.”

Screenshot of conversation pertaining to the baby Autym Burke was to adopt with Betty Jo Krenz assistance – Facebook post

Even though Krenz came with a high personal recommendation, Burke did her due diligence, she said. Krenz seemed well connected, and said she loved the Native American people. Her apparent relationship with Cramer played a “huge role” in believing Krenz was credible. She was an apparently fierce advocate for women and children and helped find homes for the children of birth mothers who didn’t want to or couldn’t raise their children, Burke said.

“I have to say, there are very few people I have ever liked as much as I did Betty Jo upon first meeting a person,” Burke said. “She was so great.”

Day by day, Burke’s dreams of adopting a baby girl slowly melted away.

“There were a few things throughout the whole process that caused a slight amount of doubt here and there,” Burke said. “However, she told me many times that I have lived under a rock my whole life and just don’t get how the system works. She is very convincing. It wasn’t until the very last week of August that I knew she was lying to us, and that this baby, who we had named Ruby, was never coming home to us. It was a heartbreaking process getting to the end of this and uncovering her lies one by one. Very, very painful.”

The most poignant proof Burke had about what she calls a con was the lack of proof.

Weeks of delays were followed by excuses. Judges had full court schedules. Paperwork needed signing.

“Something in my heart was telling me that she was lying,” Burke said.

Burke, who has no natural children, and her husband, who has two boys, began demanding proof of the documentation they were promised. They wanted to stop relying on Krenz’s word.

“When she couldn’t produce the proof over the course of the last 48 hours of this ordeal, we knew it was all lies,” Burke said. “And then I confronted her with her lies and she didn’t even deny them.”

Krenz is still under investigation, and has not been arrested at this time. Repeated attempts to contact Krenz have not been successful.

Screenshot of conversation between Betty Jo Krenz, sometimes known as Jo Betty, and Autym Burke on August 26, 2017 – Facebook post

“I can’t explain how painful this realization was for us,” Burke said. “Of course I know now that this sweet little baby was never meant to be ours, but it was still a heartbreaking blow to our family.  I know my husband and I never held her, but she truly was in our hearts.”

The Burke family didn’t seek out a Native American child to start with, she said.

“Our hearts were open to any child from anywhere,” Burke said. “However, when this came into our lives without us seeking it out, it felt very meant-to-be at that time.”

Knowing little about Native American adoption issues, they accepted an explanation that their baby-to-be was not eligible for enrollment in an indigenous tribe. The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 gave a strong voice to tribal governments concerning child custody hearings involving Native American children, by giving tribes jurisdiction on a reservation.

An indigenous child is considered a ward of the tribe. The act was enacted due to the excessive removal of indigenous children – approximately 35 percent – from traditional homes into non-Indigenous and religious groups.

Krenz has numerous GoFundMe accounts, including one that is now now closed, which raised $16,544. Another account Krenz is credited with being involved with is called a math camp for Lakota children and raised $4,470. Krenz was also involved with the Kind Hearted Woman Dream Shelter, in Jamestown, with Robin’s House, a shelter for women and children, and with a blog called Restless Spirit Blog, last updated in 2015. On a September 2016 YouTube channel, Krenz discusses a $2,000 micro grant she planned to use to help women for Damsel In Defense, an empowering women organization.

Three years ago, Krenz issued a public statement on Disqus.

“Well, I am proud to say I am a birth mother of a baby girl I chose to place up for adoption 22 years ago, and I can assure you I received nothing and paid my own medical expenses,” Krenz wrote. Punctuation and grammar have been altered for editing purposes.

“Adoption fees go to the place that does the legal work involved in name changing and other court work involved. Legitimate adoptions thru agencies such as The Village do not pay the birth mother a penny. I know nothing about surrogate mothers, but I have seen children sold on a reservation and it’s nothing that I care to see legalized in this state.”

“We are very sad at the heartache this had caused for Jodie Blackboy as well,” Autym Burke said. “I never would have reached out to her if not just to try to protect her and Julissa from Betty Jo. Honestly, putting this behind us would be the best way to begin healing, but we felt she needed to know. We felt she too was lied to. And as sad as this loss is, we truly are so glad that it ended where it did and did not go further, and that Jodie and Julissa are together and doing so well.

“We will stand by them as long as it takes to shine the light bright enough on this issue to make sure no one else is victimized by Betty Jo Krenz. And maybe more people will come forward if they hear our story.”

Savanna’s murder suspects plead not guilty

By C.S. Hagen 
FARGO – Brooke Lynn Crews pled not guilty to all charges related to Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind’s murder and kidnapping of her child in Cass County District Court on Thursday. Crews’ live-in boyfriend, William Henry Hoehn, also entered a not guilty plea on Wednesday, according to court documents.

Brooke Lynn Crews and William Henry Hoehn – photo provided by the Fargo Police Department

The couple were charged with class A felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and after Greywind’s body was found, wrapped tightly in plastic and duct tape, snagged by a tree in the middle of the Red River, the suspects face additional charges of conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to give false information to police.

Crews entered the courtroom shackled, dressed in prison orange, and remained expressionless while waiting for court proceedings to begin. The 38-year-old understood all the charges when read to her, and her attorney, Steve Mottinger, entered the plea for his client.

“We ask the court to enter a plea of not guilty on all counts,” Mottinger said. He also asked the court to postpone trial for 60 days in order for the defense to properly prepare. The next court date was moved from November 29, until January 3, 2018 at 10:30am. Hoehn is scheduled to reappear in court on December 6 at 10:30am.

Both suspects have so far not accepted invitations for interviews. They formerly lived at Apartment 5, 2825 Ninth Street North, Fargo, which is where police report Greywind was killed. Her baby, Haisley Jo, was found on August 24 in the custody of Crews, according to police.

Bail for the couple had been set at $2 million, and was not changed on Thursday.

 

Nation, city, misleading public on refugee costs

Refugees cost taxpayers money, but the buck doesn’t stop there

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – All fingers point to refugees being cost positive for cities, states, and the nation, and yet pressure from the Trump Administration on local city leaders to curb the influx of “huddled masses” persists.

In Washington D.C., Trump Administration officials are refusing to recognize a recent study performed by the Department of Health and Human Services, or H.H.S., that reported refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenue over the past decade than they cost, according to the Washington Post and New York Times.

A different study, also ignored, came from Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities, or LEO, a research department at the University of Notre Dame. The March 2017 study stated refugee resettlement is cost-beneficial to the United States, especially with resettled children.

Over a 20-year period, refugees who entered the United States between 18 and 45 years of age, paid taxes in excess of support received by $21,200.

The White House defended its rejection of the study by saying H.H.S.’s conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, according to the New York Times. And yet right-wing media outlets, such as Breitbart, refuse to report on such numbers, reporting instead that taxpayers will spend $4.1 billion in 2017 to support 519,018 refugees resettled in the United States since 2009. Little to no mention is made of refugee benefits in the article.

In Fargo, a similar pattern has emerged. Despite the lack of hard, cold, statistical data, reports and testimonies from business leaders, entrepreneurs, police, human rights organizations, and new Americans echo national findings, saying refugees are beneficial for Fargo and the state.

“Unfortunately, the refugee and immigrant controversy is no longer about fact-finding,” Hukun Abdullahi, member of the Moorhead Human Rights Commission and North Dakota United Against Hate, said.

Originally from Somalia, Abdullahi has taken a stand against recent immigration issues and increasing hate crimes in Fargo. Washington D.C.’s anti-refugee agenda has spread like a virus, infecting local governments and encouraging bigots to target New Americans and trump up political agendas.

“This issue is more about Making America Great Again or in other words, Making America White again,” Abdullahi said. “Historically, immigrants and refugees have been blessed to obtain bipartisan support. Maybe that was because most immigrants and refugees were white and Christian at the time. They were able to blend in more easily and were perceived more ‘American’ per se. With growing numbers of immigrants who are no longer white or Christian, this has really made people think about what America has become, and thus want their country back.”

The country, the state, and even Fargo’s demographics have changed, and xenophobia lies at the root of such opposition, Abdullahi said.

“There is nothing wrong to that about having an opinion,” Abdullahi said. “What is wrong, however, is there are still groups of people who never want immigrants and refugees to be seen as equal to them.”

Within President Donald Trump’s first week of taking office, the refugee issue came under fierce debate when Trump signed an executive order stating “Secretary of State shall, within one year of the date of this order, provide a report on the estimated long-term costs of USRAP (United States Refugee Admissions Program) at the federal, state, and local levels.”

In Fargo, the fire was lit during a Fargo City Commissioners meeting on October 24, 2016, by Dave Piepkorn, who also serves as deputy mayor, when he attacked Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, a nonprofit group responsible for handling refugees in the state.

Piepkorn wants to know the costs of refugees, an obscure price tag as few agencies distinguish refugees from other racial types. Piepkorn sees refugee resettlement as an unfunded mandate, and that the state should have the right to decide on the numbers of refugees it allows. He’s also stated that refugees are depressing wages locally, and receiving benefits other residents are not receiving.

Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, is using identical tactics form public opinion. Miller is concerned only with costs, not fiscal benefits, when determining the annual refugee cap, which he is attempting to slice by more than half, or less than 50,000 for the nation. On Wednesday, Trump’s Administration announced it capped the amount of refugees the nation would accept at 45,000 US, which means with 19,000 from Africa, 17,500 for the Near East and South Asia, 5,000 for East Asia, 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia, and 1,500 for Latin America and the Caribbean.

So far, Piepkorn has expressed similar if not identical considerations, despite the repeated attempts of city officials, Lutheran Social Services, and leaders from the Fargo Human Relations Commission, to discuss the issues.

Instead of agreeing to sit-downs with local leaders, Piepkorn has made his views known on right-wing radio stations such as AM 1100 The Flag Need to Know Morning Show, where Piepkorn took partial credit for influencing the former Trump special adviser Steve Bannon’s platform against immigrants.

Piepkorn has been repeatedly contacted for comment, but so far refuses to answer telephone calls or call back.

“Let’s have a conversation,” Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and the Fargo Human Relations Commission, said. “Dave Piepkorn has never reached out to any one of us who did this at his request. He’s never wanted to talk about it, and again he didn’t show up for the report.”

Although Piepkorn has led the charge against the displaced in Fargo, he failed to appear at one of the most important meetings pertaining to the issue.

“To me, it is a lack of leadership to not only deny the facts and figures that do not agree with that so-called leader’s ideology or opinions, but it is inhumane and immoral to target a group of residents and citizens to advance one’s agenda,” Nelson said.

To combat rising hate crimes, the Human Relations Commission passed a resolution originally proposed by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, establishing Fargo as a hate-free community. The resolution was passed on to the Fargo City Commission this week to be voted on next month, and was passed unanimously by the Moorhead City Commission on Monday.

“It puts the city on record as saying that these crimes keep occurring and allowing city leaders to make a statement that this city won’t tolerate hate crimes,” Nelson said.

Despite the national upheaval on immigration issues, those that are behind such political agendas and racist reforms are numerically inferior, Abdullahi said.

“Fortunately for us, this group of people is very small,” Abdullahi said. “The denial of facts from the US Government is an example how such a small group of people in influential positions could still disrupt lives of many and diminish the value of what immigrants and refugees are contributing in their new society.”

Some numbers Piepkorn has been searching for have been discovered, such as financial costs provided by the Fargo Police Department, nursing and interpreter costs from Cass County Public Health. Most agencies, however, do not track refugees.

Since January 2002, 3,677 refugees have been settled in Fargo, according to a Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota report. New Americans are employers, taxpayers, and field workers, choosing occupations few local citizens are willing to apply for.

Statistically, what is known at the local level is that refugees contributed $542.8 million to the city’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million, according to the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report, a study commissioned to the Fargo Human Relations Commission to perform and released in April.

First-generation immigrants are cost-positive in North Dakota by approximately $3,250, and long-term benefits are incalculable, according to the study and the City of Fargo’s Community Development Department. First-generation households are cost-positive by $4,900, making North Dakota the second most cost-positive state in the nation.

Between 2011 and 2013, immigrants in North Dakota paid $133.9 million in taxes and spent $425.7 million, according to the Fargo Human Relations Commission’s first report, released in February 2017.

Nationally, since 2011, the U.S. Refugee Admission Program has received approximately 655,000 applications, with more than 75 percent of the applicants fleeing from Iraq, Myanmar, Syria, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Bhutan, according to the United States Government Accountability Office, or GAO.

In 2016, the United States admitted 85,000 refugees, the largest yearly number in more than 15 years, according to GAO.

“This is not cost overruns on a bridge or road construction. This is not a debate about whether or not to construct a city hall or a dam,” Nelson said. “This is putting a target squarely on the backs of men, women and children who ask only that they have a chance, just like most of our ancestors, to begin a new life in safety and security.

“This is putting human beings in harm’s way. Is that the moral leadership we want and expect in our community, in our country? I truly hope that the moral leadership and citizenry of our community will look at the true facts of refugee resettlement and see this kind of discounting and targeting for the basest and cruelest of human instincts that it is.”

Historically, the refugee debate is nothing new. In the 1840s, Americans turned their hatred on the Irish fleeing famine when potato blight struck. At that time, newspapers reported the Irish were disease-ridden, they threatened American jobs and welfare budgets, they practiced an alien religion, they were rapists and criminals — charges remarkably similar to accusations made in Fargo in 2016 by Valley News Live — and more recently by Commissioner Piepkorn — against the area’s refugees and new Americans.

In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. Chinese, at that time, were escaping persecution and civil wars, and because of their distinct culture, their Qing-styled queues, they became easily-identifiable targets for racial “purists,” who accused them of depriving jobs, unionizing the mining industry, and forcing the lowering of wages. The blatantly racist policy was not abandoned until 1943, when China became an ally with the United States against Japan.

The list goes on: French-speaking Catholic Acadians in 1755, Germans in 1848, Jewish refugees in 1848 and 1939, Vietnamese refugees in 1975, seven Middle Eastern countries in 2017.

Ironically, while Americans favored keeping the world’s downtrodden from its shores, one of the nation’s foremost and secret goals after World War II was to hunt for military and scientific booty, which sometimes came in the form of Nazi scientists, in covert actions such as the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency’s “Operation Paperclip.”

Historically, crackdowns on refugees have led to little more than demonization, breeding division and fear. Since 1882, U.S. presidents have gone through cycles of banning or restricting ethnic groups, only to apologize years later for inflicting harm, according to professor Erika Lee, a historian at the University of Minnesota.

Lee helped start the website Immigration Syllabus, which shies away from political debate and focuses on immigration facts.

“When we close the gates, we look back on those periods with shame,” Lee said in the Star Tribune. “And I do feel that we are on the verge of repeating some of those past mistakes.”

“Refugees entering the U.S. as adults tend to have poor economic outcomes when they first enter, but they improve significantly over time,” the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities report stated. “Use of Medicaid, welfare, and SNAP decrease over time, while employment and income increase.”

After 20 years in the United States, approximately 11 percent still rely on SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as Food Stamps, and incomes increase exponentially.

Currently, the present cost of relocating a refugee is $14,384, and over time the refugee receives $86,863 in social insurance costs, but pays taxes of $122,422, which leaves a cost positive net payment by the refugee of $21,195, according to the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities.

“By their tenth year in the U.S., refugees are cost-neutral,” the report stated.

The report also noted that refugees who enter the United States before turning 16 graduate college at similar or higher rates than their US-born peers. Two factors help explain poorer results for refugees 15 and older, the first being limited English, and the second that older child refugees are more likely to be unaccompanied by parents or an adult.

While opponents of refugee resettlement twist the narrative to say refugees take jobs away in Fargo, nothing could be further from the truth, James Gartin, president of the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corp., said.

A Regional Workforce Study reported Fargo had 6,500 unfilled jobs in 2005, a number that will grow to 30,000 by 2020.

“This inability to fill jobs has been a major contributor to the slowdown in our local economy, and the refugee resettlement program has an important part to play in addressing this workforce shortage,” Gartin said. “Cutting back on the refugee resettlement program will not benefit the Fargo-Moorhead economy. It will do the opposite.”

For those who feel refugees are prone to become criminals, think again, the Fargo Human Relations Commission reported in January 2017. Immigrants are 1.7 times less likely to become involved in crime than native-born people, according to information from the U.S. Census Bureau and reported on by the American Community Survey.

“Many are threatened by the mere fact that many of us own our homes, businesses, and drive new cars,” Abdullahi said. “It’s possible because we work hard, harder than many imagine. This haunts such people because they have always thought of us as less deserving. If it were up to them, they would not hesitate to throw us in cotton fields and strip away our rights.

“We are a minority and it will remain that way for a long period of time. I strongly believe one day, this negativity is going to go away once people start realizing we are a part of this community, just like they are. I urge former refugees and immigrants to be patient, but speak up when you see acts of racism and discrimination.

“There is nothing to be concerned about at this time, because we are legal residents and citizens and have rights, and rights to be united with our family members, as allowed by the U.S. Constitution.”

“They are stealing our babies”

A former Spirit Lake Tribal case manager under investigation in allegedly faked adoption proceedings

By C.S. Hagen
WOODWORTH – A former case manager for the Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services is under police investigation for fraud and allegedly faking adoptions for Native American children.

Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating Betty Jo Krenz, approximately 46, and currently living in Woodworth, according to court documents and Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department Detective Jason Falk. It was unclear if other agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, are involved at this time.

Betty Jo Krenz – YouTube

According to Janel Herald, a registered member of the Spirit Lake Tribe and involved with organizing information pertaining to the case, the FBI, as well as the Spirit Lake Nation, Grand Forks Police, Rapid City Police, Devil’s Lake Police, Medford, Oregon police, Boise, Idaho police, the North Dakota State Attorney General’s office, and Jamestown Police are also involved in the investigation.

Krenz was a case manager for helping children at the Spirit Lake Tribal Social Services until 2011, and has been a high-profile figure, interviewed by the New York Times and local media about her work with children on the reservation.

The Krenz family was interviewed by Valley News Live in January after she attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Krenz also gave testimony before a congressional subcommittee, which included Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND), according to 2014 media reports.

“She was employed with social services and she was released from here,” said June Yankton, the Spirit Lake Tribal Council administrator.

Krenz has a long criminal record of writing bad checks, forgery, and counterfeiting, under both her current and former surnames.

Online complaints against Krenz have become viral during the past month, and came to a head after Autym Burke, of Oregon, posted about her experience with Krenz on September 21 to Jodie Blackboy.

“My husband and I met a woman named Betty Jo Krenz,” Burke wrote. “We were introduced to her earlier this year because we were told that she helped facilitate adoptions for Native American children who needed good homes…My husband and I have wanted to adopt for over a decade and had just begun the journey to adoption when we met her.”

What followed was a description of lies and deceit, of a woman who tricked the couple out of money and their hopes for adopting a child named Julissa.

“Anyways, we were told there was a baby to adopt, and that baby, we now know, was your [Jodie Blackboy’s] daughter,” Burke wrote. “For months, we received photographs, videos, and updates about her, thinking our family was going to be adopting her. It ended in heartbreak when we realized that we had been scammed by Betty Jo Krenz.

“We were lied to and left heartbroken. And I’m sure you’ve been lied to also. I can send you everything I have. I have tons of photos and videos of baby Julissa.

“I’m only keeping them as long as I need them to prove my case to you, and to the proper authorities. Once that is done, I promise I will not keep them. I’ve closed the door and know that this baby is, and always was yours, and I am truly glad that she is safe and sound with you, her Mom.”

Blackboy acknowledged that the baby involved in the adoption proceedings was her daughter, but declined to comment further.

Betty Jo Krenz – former Facebook photo

Other online messages between alleged victims and Krenz talk about Julissa, whose adopted name was to be Ruby, and Haisley Jo, believed to be the same baby taken from Savanna Greywind on August 19. Krenz’ messages about Haisley Jo were written on August 22, while Haisley Jo and the suspects in Greywind’s murder weren’t found or arrested until the following Thursday, August 24.

One September 27, 2017, the Spirit Lake Tribal Council banned Krenz from entering the Spirit Lake Reservation. Tribal Administrator Yankton said that the Tribal Council plans to issue a press release later.

Krenz, also known as Jo Betty, described herself as a “fierce advocate for women and children of rape and abuse” on a former Facebook page profile. Since Wednesday, however, all her Facebook pages have been taken down, and four telephone numbers for her are no longer working.

“They are stealing our babies,” Linda Black Elk said on a Facebook post. “If you ever doubted racism and genocide in North Dakota, you won’t after reading this: Betty Jo Edland-Krenz, a white woman from the Fargo area, was once a child advocate for the Spirit Lake Nation foster care program. Red flags were raised over the years. People found out about her felony convictions and other suspicious behavior and tried to warn the community, but very little was done. In fact, Betty Jo has numerous GoFundMe accounts open for various projects that never seem to come to fruition.”

One GoFundMe account, now closed, raised $16,544. Another account Krenz is credited for being involved with is called a math camp for Lakota children and raised $4,470. Krenz was also involved with the Kind Hearted Woman Dream Shelter, in Jamestown; with Robin’s House, a shelter for women and children; and with a blog called Restless Spirit Blog, last updated in 2015.

On a September 2016 YouTube channel, Krenz discusses a $2,000 micro grant she planned to use to help women by donating to Damsel In Defense, an organization that empowers women.

“I am a thrift store shopped for children’s books and toys,” Krenz wrote in the Restless Spirit blog. “If you feel you can help in any way please donate to Robin’s House and help me make Robin’s dream come true and the families be comfortable.”

“The state government loves her because she is a Trump supporter and was even featured in Kevin Cramer’s campaign,” Black Elk wrote. “For some reason, they consistently overlooked her track record and upheld her as an exemplary citizen.

“It has now come to light that Betty Jo was attempting to sell North Dakota’s Native American babies,” Black Elk wrote.

“I’m just trying to prove my story, and an agent at the Attorney General’s office is working on going through all of my documentation,” Autym Burke said. “We have been scammed, and I know of another family. We were ‘adopting’ babies who we now know were never for adoption. I’m working with many law enforcement agencies right now, and cooperating and trying to help as much as I possibly can, so that no other moms, babies, or families who want to adopt are scammed, lied to, and hurt.”

Burke declined to talk about case specifics further, pending investigation.

Online, netizens call Krenz a whistleblower, who thinks she is safe because of her previous work on the Spirit Lake reservation.

“Yet she is victimizing our Native people and needs to be held accountable for her wrongdoing,” Ashley Roulette, of Oberton, said in an online post.

Deb Bjorem, from West Fargo, met Krenz in March 2017, and said she too was cheated financially by helping her, and another woman from West Fargo who runs a daycare and did a benefit for Michelle Schumacher last year, who both claimed to be raising funds, primarily for abused women and the homeless.

“I opened myself to them, I told them everything about my past, my history, and now they use it to their advantage,” Bjorem said. “They have my whole life in their hands. I’ve lost so many so-called friends because of this, but I hang on to my faith in Jesus as I have for the past 20 years. The truth will set you free, and it will come out in the end.”

Bjorem said Krenz is in Hawaii right now. Others who admit knowing Krenz say she is remains in North Dakota. 

This is a breaking story; updates will follow.

Local feces hate crime marks sixth racial incident in 2017

A Fargoan’s car is no longer drivable days after a neighbor reportedly tells him “You cannot be here,” victim said

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – A Somali-American discovered animal feces spread inside his vehicle Monday evening, an incident many believe was a direct threat and a hate crime.

Yusuf Mohamed’s car was locked at Maplewood Apartments, 1010 23rd Street, South Fargo, he said. The culprit broke in through his driver’s side window and spread feces across the dashboard, front and back seats.

Yusuf Mohamed and his vehicle behind him – photo by C.S. Hagen

“This is threat, happened to us,” Mohamed said. “When I opened my car I see animal poo. It was disgusting. I can’t even imagine what happened to my car. I cannot even enter my car until I fix this problem.”

Police responded to the incident, telling him not to enter the vehicle as the feces might pose a health hazard, Mohamed said.

Mohamed found the mess inside his Toyota Corolla at 6pm Monday. The last time he drove the car was the day before, returning home around 10pm, Mohamed said. He believes the incident may stem from a verbal assault he received from a neighbor last Tuesday, September 12.

“You cannot be here,” the neighbor told him, Mohamed said. “You and the other guy, the both of you get out of here. And he telling me you are roadblock to here, but I belong to here. He said to me so many insults, my religion, my color, my language, and he told me you are not belong to here.

Yusuf Mohamed preparing to open his car’s door – photo by C.S. Hagen

“And I told him ‘Fix your language.’ And he did not stop until I go, and I say, ‘Shame on you with your language.’ This is what happened.”

Mohamed arrived in the United States 20 years ago, worked as a factory employee until he was recently injured on the job, and has never been the focus of a hate crime before, he said.

“I have seen things happen to other people in the community, but nothing has happened to me,” Mohamed said. “This is way, way, way too much.”

Police officers told him they had never seen such a crime before, and that the incident is under investigation.

Inside of Yusuf Mohamed’s car – photos provided by Hukun Abdullahi

Although North Dakota does not yet have hate crime legislation, Mohamed is now worried about his own safety.

“Really, I am worried about my safety because the guy found me and followed me when I went down. Now I am worried about my safety. The guy broke into my car, he could break into my apartment and kill me.”

He has also lived in the Maplewood Apartments for six years without incident. He believes that President Donald Trump’s Administration has encouraged haters to vocalize and now physically damage property in the name of white supremacy.

“When the head of the government say bad things about Muslims or insulting other countries, then they do whatever they want,” Mohamed said. “Everything is on the head. If he say bad things, what about the other people? Already they broke the First Amendment, the Second Amendment. The other people can do whatever, because already it’s broke.”

Hukun Abdullahi, member of the Moorhead Human Rights Commission and North Dakota United Against Hate, said hate crimes are being committed in Fargo/Moorhead on a near-daily basis. Mohamed’s incident marks the sixth hate crime in Fargo in 2017, Abdullahi said.

Hate crimes are not about black or white racial issues, but about a protected class versus an unprotected class.

Toyota Corolla and the front door scrapes – photo by C.S. Hagen

“What I see is that this is terrible,” Abdullahi said. “And it’s happening only to one specific community. This is why we need hate crime legislation in North Dakota, and city ordinance too. It’s happening every day. A lot of people this is happening to and they’re not talking about it. We wanted our community to speak out. This is their city. This is their country.

“Whether you kill us, vandalize us, there is nowhere we will go. We came here the way others came here. Fargo is a welcoming city, and there are just a few who are doing this.”

Earlier in 2017, a car belonging to a New American was spray-painted. An assault on a Somali-American on July 2 is being investigated as a possible hate crime by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and was virtually swept under the rug, Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said.

James Patrick Billiot, 32, Fargo, and Justin William Rifanburg, 28, West Fargo, assaulted Shuib Ali, who was moving into an apartment when the attack occurred after racial epithets were said, according to police reports. Nelson said the two men were charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, were fined $250 for their crime, and the victim was not alerted to the court case.

Later in July, Amber Elizabeth Hensley was filmed while threatening to kill three Somali women in a Walmart parking lot. Video from the incident went viral, and the four people involved later made up, apologizing at the police station.

“Yes we are aware that a break-in took place, and the resident reported to our site manager this morning,” Kurt Bollman, president of Goldmark Property Management, the company that manages Maplewood Apartments, said.

“As in any case of any type of crime, we always ask that the resident contact the police, which he did, and I can tell you, in general, if a resident was determined by the court system of a crime on the property, that resident may, very probably, get evicted, because we don’t tolerate any type of crime, on the property, and especially resident against resident.”

The incident is still under investigation by police, who were also contacted for comment, but did not respond to further requests for information by press time. Bollman wouldn’t answer questions about the tenants possibly involved.

“If a resident has lived with us for six years, there hasn’t been the problem,” Bollman said. 

The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and Welcoming FM are hosting “A Community Conversation About Race” event at 7pm tonight, Tuesday, September 19.

Haisley Jo Comes Home

After nearly a month of frustration, boyfriend of slain Native American woman retains custody of baby girl

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Twenty-four days after baby Haisley Jo was brutally taken from Savanna Marie LaFontaine-Greywind, the infant girl returned home to her father.

Haisley Jo Greywind-Matheny – photo provided by the family


Ashton Matheny, who according to DNA results released Monday is the father of the nearly one-month-old child, was awarded full legal custody of the baby, according to Krista Andrews, Matheny’s attorney.
The infant girl had been in the custody of Cass County Social Services during the legal process and DNA testing.

“She’s good, she’s a beautiful baby,” Andrews said. “They’re both doing well.”

Haisley Jo was found in the care of Brooke Lynn Crews, 38, in the apartment she shared with William Henry Hoehn, 32, at Apartment 5, 2825 Ninth Street North. Both were arrested five days after Greywind – eight months pregnant with Haisley Jo at the time – went missing. The couple share identical charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to give false information to police.

Andrews, an attorney with Anderson, Bottrell, Sanden & Thompson, practices family law, and said that although authorities took nearly a month before returning Haisley Jo to her family, the case was unique and tragic, and Matheny retained custody immediately following the DNA test.

“Why so long is that social services, the courts, and everybody wanted to make sure they were doing the right thing,” Andrews said. “It probably felt like it took longer than it did.”

Greywind’s body was found wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the Red River, according to police. Although Fargo Police Chief David Todd so far refuses to say that Greywind was the victim of fetal abduction, her death was a “cruel and vicious act of depravity,” according to Todd.

Both suspects are being held in Cass County Jail under a $2 million bond. Crews’ preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 28 at 1:30pm, and Hoehn for October 4 at 9am.

Brooke Lynn Crews and William Henry Hoehn – photo provided by the Fargo Police Department

Little miracles
Neighbors of the Greywind family say Savanna’s spirit is watching over them.

Sweet scents of burning sage waft from the apartment complex. Pictures, candles, and flowers now adorn the complex’s front door and lawn.

Christopher Miranda and girlfriend Rhonda Grimli live on the floor between the Greywind’s and the suspects’ rooms, and discovered a stray boxer and pit bull mix over the Labor Day weekend at the apartment building. The dog was found by a neighbor, who gave the go-ahead to post a picture of the dog on Facebook.

Shortly afterward, the dog’s owner replied, and was reunited with the dog, named Milton.

Milton – the lost and found dog

“I believe it was Savanna who brought him here,” Miranda said. “It felt good, it was the first time really we felt good around here since this happened. The dog made me forget all this stuff that has been going on constantly in my mind.”

To help the Greywind family, a local three-year-old sold more than $1,000 in lemonade for Haisley Jo. A Fargo North High School football game led a “miracle minute in honor of the Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind family,” where cheerleaders collected $1,270 from fans to deposit into the family’s registered bank account at US Bank, under the name of Haisley Jo.

A young man named Skylor Charboneau took first place at a powwow over Labor Day Weekend and donated his winnings to the Greywind family.

An online petition to the City of Fargo to tear down the apartment building in which the Greywind family lived has already been signed by 2,250 petitioners.

Candlelight vigils have been held across the state as concerned citizens placed red light bulbs in their front porch sockets to honor the 22-year-old’s memory. GoodBulb, Inc., which sold the bulbs for $5 apiece, donated $3,125 to the Haisley Jo Donation Fund.

Greywind began her nursing career in Devils Lake, and then transferred to Eventide in Fargo. She had been dating Ashton Matheny since her freshman year in high school, and the couple were looking forward to starting a family.

“All of Savanna’s family and Ashton will miss her tremendously,” Greywind’s obituary stated.

Savanna is survived by her daughter, Haisley Jo, her parents, Norberta and Joe, her brothers and a sister, her grandparents, and nieces and nephews, the obituary reported.

“The pain I feel is like no other,” Norberta said in a public Facebook post. “All my children are my world and the loss of my oldest daughter is very devastating. Just don’t know how to pick myself up from this. So much guilt, anger just every emotion.

“I apologize if I shut out the ones closest to me along with everyone else. I’m sure I will continue to do that. It’s just how I am dealing with this. Just want to thank my Lafontaine family for being there for my family from the beginning and I know you will continue to be there. I love every one of you.

“The Fargo community, Turtle Mountain, Spirit Lake communities, and the entire world have been so supportive.

“My goal is to fight for justice for Savanna. My baby did not deserve this. She was an amazing person, so much love to give and she was the rock of our family, her pregnancy was the most exciting time for us, to lose that and my grandbaby will never know her mother just tears me up.”

Frustration
Many aspects of Greywind’s case have frustrated family and friends. From the police investigation after her disappearance and consequent murder, to Haisley Jo’s absence, to claims of people attempting to profit online from the tragedy, to the apartment Greywind and her boyfriend Matheny planned to rent.

When Greywind paid a deposit of $700 for an apartment across the street from where her family lives, no contract was prepared, family reported.

The property Greywind was planning to rent at 3013 10th Street North is owned by McIntosh Properties, LLC, according to the City of Fargo assessment information, and has an appraised value in 2017 of $572,400. Margaret McIntosh signed the receipt with Greywind in August.

McIntosh Properties, LLC is active and in good standing, and is authorized to invest in, own, and manage real estate, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State. McIntosh is listed as the registered agent of the company.

The property, which has total square footage of 12,288 square feet, is listed as a 12-unit complex with an addition name of Cedarholm, and is legally authorized to be used as an apartment building. Taxes for 2016 of $7,674.46 have been paid, according to the City of Fargo assessment information.

Savanna Greywind recipt for rental property

North Dakota law states that landlords can require a prospective tenant to complete an application, and charge an application fee, which my not be refundable. The fee is typically used to cover the costs of checking a tenant’s references, and an applicant can request a receipt for payment, which Greywind received. Such fees, however, are not considered security deposits.

An agreement between a landlord and tenant is a lease agreement, which can be oral or written. A lease is legally binding on both landlord and tenant and cannot be changed without both parties’ consent.

“For the protection of both the landlord and tenant it is best that the lease agreement be in writing,” the Legal Services of North Dakota stated.

Either party may terminate a lease agreement with at least one calendar month’s written notice. Failure to give proper notice could result in loss of a security deposit.

A landlord also has the right to require a security deposit, which is what Greywind’s family said she paid for. Her boyfriend’s name was not included in the receipt as he was currently unemployed.  Any security deposit must be returned to the tenant at the end of a lease within 30 days, or the tenant given a written accounting as to why the deposit was not returned. Disagreements are usually taken to Small Claims Court.

The Greywind family and supporters believe a special case should be made for Savanna Greywind, however, and the deposit should be returned.

McIntosh refused to answer questions regarding the situation, and hung up the telephone.

Although police no longer consider what was thought to be a crime scene on a farmstead in Clay County, Minnesota a place of former interest in connection to Greywind’s murder, they’re still asking the public for information. The police tip lines number has changed to (701) 241-5777.

‘Looking for another Indian girl to kill’

Indigenous women are raped and killed every year, their cases disappearing into a labyrinth of legal jurisdiction

By C.S. Hagen
STANDING ROCK – Long ago, Native American women would stuff dirt up their dresses to keep from getting raped by the wasi’chu, meaning eat the fat, a term which has evolved to denote the collective white man.  In those lawless days, they preferred death to the pain and humiliation.

“If the military catches you, stuff your insides with dirt in the hopes that they kill you,” Myron Dewey, a Paiute/Shoshone Native American, and owner of Digital Smoke Signals, said. His grandparents passed the story and other oral histories to him.

Today, the wasi’chu still hunt indigenous women with relative impunity.

A list of Standing Rock’s indigenous murdered and missing women was first penned by Wasté Win Young, LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard, and Alva Cottonwood-Gabe, and read along the Missouri River during a prayer walk on August 30.

“This prayer walk was ignited by Savanna Greywind’s murder,” Win Young said. “Even though Savanna is not from Standing Rock, it is important to acknowledge and pray for all missing and/or murdered indigenous women. So this list was started to acknowledge women from Standing Rock. The list began to grow as families from places other than Standing Rock asked to have their relatives added to the list.”

After each name was read, a child put tobacco in the water for them, Win Young said. Too many of the victim’s names had no stories to tell in online searches.

As a child, such stories weren’t boogeyman tales meant to frighten her, Standing Rock member Win Young said.

“We always knew growing up in my family, my mom would tell us not to go anywhere, or do anything,” Win Young said. “We always knew growing up they were unsolved, we were always told to be really careful. When we were real tiny my mom and dad would warn me about being kidnapped, all the time.”

Never go to a public restroom alone. Never go to fraternity parties, you’ll get raped. Never go to New Town, never go to Williston. Don’t even think about traveling through the Bakken, especially near a man camp. If police tell you to pull over, never stop in a deserted area, always travel to a well-lit public spot, are some of the rules Win Young and other Native American women live by.

“I was vigilant all the time,” Win Young said.  A graduate of the University of North Dakota, she is now a mother with four children. “That’s my biggest fear, that something will happen to my children. There are cops, even tribal cops, who do that to the women. They rape them, and then leave them out there. It’s always been really bad, but the media just doesn’t cover it.”

Growing up, fear was Win Young’s constant companion.

“These were real individuals that we grew up with knowing that their moms were missing, they were killed, and they knew their killers were out there, maybe looking for us, looking for another Indian girl to kill.”

Lissa Yellow Bird-Chase, founder of the Sahnish Scouts of North Dakota, a citizen-led organization that helps bring the missing justice, said sexual exploitation on reservations is an issue that has always been a problem, and had never gotten better.

“I don’t think anything has changed except the awareness of it,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. “Normally, families of the missing and surviving loved ones are ignored by authorities, so they go into this dark place and they find some resolve somehow in their own way, and they continue on with life.

“They’re kind of pushed onto the back, back burner,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. “I think now that there are some fire starters like myself bringing this to the forefront, so that other people are starting to come out of their dark closets. People are talking about it more.”

Native Americans go into this dark, shameful place because of the stigma of drugs and alcoholism on reservations. Yellow Bird-Chase is a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation and from the Fort Berthold Reservation.

“I think people have been shamed into not acknowledging that this is a problem,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. “Now we have the opiate craze going on and we have the non-native people suffering too, but this has always been here. It’s a social status, and it’s becoming so widespread.

“Like they told us decades ago, by the time we reach the new millennium, by the year 2000, everyone will know someone with AIDS or HIV. I said a few years ago that within 10 years everybody will be able to identify with a lost or missing person, this is an epidemic as well.”

A few pictures of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous women

Candace Rough Surface, 18, was beaten, raped, then shot five times in 1980. Her body decomposed in a muddy and shallow bay for nine months before a local rancher found her. The crime remained unsolved for 16 years because of racism and prominence of one of the killers’ families. James E. Stroh II, of Wisconsin, was convicted 16 years later of the crime, as was Nicholas A. Scherr, from Kenel, South Dakota, who pled guilty in 1996, receiving a 100-year prison sentence.

Natalie White Lightning, an employee of Standing Rock’s Prairie Knights Casino and Resort, was sexually assaulted and murdered by Lance Craig Summers on March 18, 2014, and her body was tossed near Fort Yates, in Indian country. Summers pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a 10-year prison sentence. White Lightning’s death received little media attention: a two-paragraph obituary in the Bismarck Tribune, and a short clip on KX News.

In April 2015, Jessie Manley’s murder received slightly more attention than White Lightning’s. A Native American man, Richard White Eagle, from Fort Yates, was charged with sexually assaulting Manley after she passed out on his couch, according to documents filed by the U.S. District Court of North Dakota.

Monica “Mona” Bercier-Wickre disappeared from Aberdeen, South Dakota on April 7, 1993. She was 42 or 43 years old, and wasn’t reported missing for nearly two weeks. Her remains were discovered on June 16, 1993 in the James River. By 2000, police had a suspect, but not enough evidence. The suspect was never publicly identified, and the case remains unsolved.

In a rare double homicide, Dorothy Cadotte Lentz, 56, and her daughter, Pamela Lentz, 21, were killed at University Square Apartments in Grand Forks, in 1987. Pamela was an undergraduate student at North Dakota College of Science in Wahpeton when she visited her mother. Police discovered Dorothy’s body, stabbed repeatedly, throat slit and then strangled, and Pamela, who was three months pregnant, was strangled, and was reportedly dating the suspect, Keith Bishop, according to a research paper by A.J. Williams written in 2008. In 1989, all charges were dropped against Bishop, because the prosecutors’ case was ‘circumstantial.’

Lakota Rose Madison’s life ended at 17 years of age, killed by her cousin in 2001. Described posthumously as a hero, she was an activist who dealt with personal issues such as drugs and gang activities, and dreamed of creating safe houses and cultural exchanges among youth communities. Madison was found dead along the Grand River after disappearing for three days. O’Neal Iron Cloud was charged with second degree murder after beating Madison to death.

Thirty-one-year-old Ivy Archambault was raped, taken out of town, and then bludgeoned to death in October 2001 by a 15-year-old burglar. Gary Long Jr., with a long list of previous convictions, including burglary, assaults, and animal cruelty, was sentenced two years later to 45 years imprisonment. Archambault’s death led to her sister, Jackie Brown Otter, creating a domestic shelter where threatened women could go in McLaughlin, South Dakota.

Perhaps the most well-known case is the story of Anna Mae Aquash, whose 1975 murder is still a controversial topic. At 30 years old, she was shot in the back of the head and found two months later after the snow melted in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. An activist involved in the Trail of Broken Treaties, she also joined Oglala Lakota at Pine Ridge during the 71-day armed standoff at Wounded Knee. The FBI and the courts say she was killed by American Indian Movement members Leo Looking Cloud and John Graham after being suspected as an informant, but the investigation took nearly 30 years, and nobody was convicted of her murder until 2014.

More than 70 women have disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside since 1983, and Teressa Ann Williams, a First Nation woman from British Columbia was one of them when she was reported missing in 1999, according to “Cold North Killers: Canadian Serial Murder,” a book written by Lee Mellor. Robert William Pickton, 52 at the time of his arrest in 2002, was a hog farmer in Port Coquitlam, and fed his victims to his pigs. Although Williams’ killer has never been found, most suspect she was one of Pickton’s victims during what has become to be known as the Edmonton Serial Killer case.

Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, 20, was last seen on June 5, 2017, in Browning, Montana. As of August 23, HeavyRunner was still missing. “All I want is my baby sister,” Kimberly Loring, HeavyRunner’s sister said in a Facebook post. “Sister it’s time to come home now, come home please. I will never stop searching for you. We will find you sister.”

Actress Misty Anne Upham, best known for her role in the 2008 film “Frozen River,” disappeared on October 5, 2014 in Auburn, Washington. Local police refused to recognize that she fit the description of a missing person, and her body was found on October 16, 2014 in a gully. Search parties believe her death was an accident, but said that she could have been found much sooner if law enforcement had conducted a thorough search.

In August 2006, Victoria Jane “Vicki” Eagleman, 33, from the Lower Brule community in South Dakota, went missing. A month later her body was discovered, naked and beaten, by volunteer searchers near Medicine Creek. As of April 2007, the FBI and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe were offering a $15,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and indictment of the killer or killers. In 2016, the FBI doubled its reward for information.

Carla Jovon Yellowbird went missing on August 23, 2016, on the Spirit Lake Reservation. The 27-year-old was missing for approximately a month before her body was found in what authorities called a suspicious death. More than a year later, no suspects have been arrested in connection with her death.

Jimmy Smith-Kramer, a 20-year-old father of twins, was killed in a vehicular hit-and-run at the Donkey Creek area north of Hoquiam, Washington, in May 2017 while in his tent, according to media reports. James D. Walker was arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter. The Quinault tribe claim the incident was a hate crime, and Smith-Kramer was a registered member of the Quinault tribe.

Another name was added to the list by Elliotte Little Bear: Glynnis Okla, from Wakpala, South Dakota, who was found in a cornfield, and whose murderer was never found.

Killing with near impunity
International laws are clear; domestic jurisdictions are not.

The United States has ratified many international treaties guaranteeing indigenous women the right to not be tortured or mistreated, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

The U.S. government is also obliged to acknowledge that indigenous peoples have the right to self determination, to ensure federal and state officials comply with human rights standards, and to adopt measures to protect individuals against human rights abuses, according to a 2006 UN Human Rights Council declaration at the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Prosecutions for crimes of sexual violence against Indigenous women are rare in federal, state, and tribal courts, resulting in impunity for perpetrators, a Congressional testimony by an Amnesty International U.S.A. researcher said.

“A Native American woman in 2003 accepted a ride home from two white men who raped and beat her, then threw her off of a bridge,” Carol Pollack, the Amnesty International U.S.A. researcher reported. “She sustained serious injuries, but survived. The case went to trial in a state court, but the jurors were unable to agree on whether the suspects were guilty. A juror who was asked why replied: ‘She was just another drunk Indian.’ The case was retried and resulted in a 60-year sentence for the primary perpetrator, who had reportedly previously raped at least four other women, and a 10-year sentence for the second perpetrator.”

Survivors of sexual violence in Indian lands also face prejudice and discrimination at all stages of the federal and state investigation and prosecution, Pollack said.

“While the perpetrator is ultimately responsible for his crime, authorities also bear a legal responsibility to ensure protection of the rights and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native peoples,” Pollack said. “They are responsible as well if they fail to prevent, investigate, and address the crime appropriately.”

The disregard for hurting Native Americans is nothing new, according to a 2007 oversight field hearing by the Committee on Natural Resources U.S. House of Representatives.

Unresponsiveness is the typical answer Georgia Little Shield, director of the Pretty Bird Woman House Shelter on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, receives when she calls for police assistance for battered women, she said during a Congressional hearing in 2007. Sometimes women prefer to spend the night in jail rather than face an angry oppressor.

“These stories are true, and there are more of them that could be mentioned,” Little Shield said during the hearing. “When a Lakota woman runs 18 miles to town for help and feels safe in a jail that is, that is a city jail, you know there’s something wrong. The city police have no jurisdiction over Native women or men, so their hands are tied.

“When you hear a city police officer say, ‘Georgia, I just could not do anything,’ it’s hard. We have become a lawless nation and now the people are taking the laws into their own hands. When this occurs, we have more rapes, more domestic violence, more inviting violence or gang violence.

“I’d like to leave you with this,” Little Shield said. “Glynnis Okla, Leslie Iron Road, Candy Bullhead, Gloria Reeds, Lakota Madison, Candy Rough Surface, Diane Dog Skin, Leona Big Shield, Ivy Archambault, Debbie Dog Eagle, Camilla Brown, Cheryl Tail Feather. Then there’s Vicki Eagleman and Lanelle Falles from Lower Brulle. These women lost their lives to violence.”

Brenda Hill, the Native Co-Chair of the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said during the same hearing that American Indian women are targeted more than any other group of women in the United States. White women are victimized at 8.1 per 1,000, and Native American women as 23.2 per 1,000.

“At least 70 percent of the violence experienced by Native Americans are committed by persons not of the same race,” Hill said.

While Native Americans represent less than 10 percent of the population in South Dakota, Native women fill more than 50 percent of the women’s shelters in the state.

“This statistic alone is starling,” Hill said. “It is directly tied to poverty and lack of housing.”

Carol Pollack, the Amnesty International researcher, spent two years investigating the problem of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women, and helped launch a worldwide campaign to Stop Violence Against Women in 2004.

“One in three Native American and Alaska Native women will be raped at some point during their lives and 86 percent of perpetrators of these crimes are non-Native men,” Pollack said.

Native women are not only at especially high risk, but are also frequently denied justice, Pollack said. Her investigation led her to Standing Rock, among other places, which illuminates the challenges in policing a vast, rural reservation where tribal and federal authorities have jurisdiction. Standing Rock Sioux Reservation spans 2.3 million acres and has a population of 9,000 people, of which 45.3 percent live below the poverty threshold. Standing Rock also has its own police force, which is operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and a tribal court, which hears civil and criminal complaints. In 2006, Standing Rock had seven patrol cars.

“Native American and Alaska Native advocates have long known that sexual violence against women from Indian nations is at epidemic proportions and that Indian women face considerable barriers to accessing justice,” Pollack said.

Jurisdictions
When Edith Chavez argued with her former boyfriend while traveling to Mandan in June 2015, he beat her then dumped her in Valley City. What followed was a nightmare of escaping a kidnapper intent on trafficking, only to be jailed by police, according to media reports.

Planning to meet an aunt in Fargo, Chavez hitchhiked nearly 40 miles to a Casselton gas station, where she was hit over the head while texting family on her laptop computer. The next few days were spent in and out of consciousness. Her attacker deactivated her Facebook page and kept her drugged.  She managed to escape somewhere in western North Dakota, and wandered to the tiny town of Wildrose. From there, she traveled another 54 miles to Williston, where police expressed more interest in her criminal record than finding her attacker, according to media outlet Timberjay.

She was jailed on a bench warrant, and later released. Dehydrated and bruised, she limped more than 125 miles north to a Minot hospital where she contacted family at the Vermilion Reservation in Minnesota.

Eleven days on the run, and few people tried to help Chavez. Those sworn to protect and serve only worsened her traumatic experience, admitting they have little information to investigate, Timberjay reported.

Complicated jurisdictional issues delay investigations and prosecutions of sexual crimes, Pollack said. “The federal government has created a complex maze of tribal, state, and federal law that has the effect of denying justice to victims of sexual violence and allowing perpetrators to evade prosecution.”

Three main factors determine where jurisdictional authority lies: whether or not the victim or the accused is a member of a federally recognized tribe, and if the offense took place on tribal land.

If a suspect is Native American, then tribal and federal authorities have concurrent jurisdiction. If a suspect is non-Native, then only the federal government can prosecute.

“Neither North nor South Dakota state police have jurisdiction over sexual violence against Native American women on the Standing Rock reservation,” Pollack said. “State police do however have jurisdiction over crimes of sexual violence committed on tribal land in instances where the victim and the perpetrator are both non-Indian.

“Jurisdictional issues not only cause confusion and uncertainty for survivors of sexual violence, but also result in uneven and inconsistent access to justice and accountability,” Pollack said. “This leaves victims without legal protection or redress and allows impunity for the perpetrators, especially non-Indian offenders who commit crimes on tribal land.”

Criminals flee both away from and to tribal lands. Police report criminals at times cross the bridge to the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, stop the car, get out, and laugh at police from the other side because they are banned from pursuing criminals any further.

The trafficking can follow a pipeline: from gang activity on reservations, to the oil drilling in the Bakken, all the way to Duluth, an international port on Lake Superior, known as a commercial sex hub. From there, low-income Native women are lured to “parties” on ships, only to wake up en route to Thunder Bay in Canada, listening to their kidnappers talking about who they’re going to be sold to.

“There are all kinds of this stuff going on, in the Bakken I’ve heard horrible, gross stories that happened to women and men out there in the man camps,” Win Young said.

Once, when her gas tank was nearing empty, she stopped to fill up at station near Williston. “Men, clearly, just that fast, were checking me out, blatantly, one other guy whistled at me, and when I was walking past the gas pump a guy just waved and said ‘Hi.’” Win Young said. “It’s real. That was something that was brought here by the oil boom. And I know that there are more men than women out there, but that’s what it breeds.”

Although Congressional hearings, protests and petitions have had little effect on society’s disregard for indigenous women issues, Win Young still has hope the future will be brighter.

“It’s just crazy because I see the face of America, and North Dakota changing,” Win Young said. “Today, the largest demographic in many tribal nations is 18 to 25 years of age. I see this real fear that the old-school white people – they’re fearful that they’re losing what they have. It bewilders me that people can be so out of touch and so racist.”

 

Savanna’s Body Found Near Harwood

Eight days after a 22-year-old pregnant woman disappeared from a Fargo apartment, her body was found near Harwood

By C.S. Hagen
HARWOOD
– The body of Savanna Marie Lafontaine-Greywind was found near the Red River early Sunday evening by law enforcement. 

At 8:20 p.m. her body was found, and at 9:20 p.m. the body was identified, according to Fargo Police Chief David Todd. Greywind’s body will be brought to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner. Her family has been notified, Todd said.

Rural 90th Avenue Northwest was blocked off in Cass County and Clay County, making travel impossible along the road while police conducted their investigation. 

Greywind went missing eight days ago on August 19, and she was eight months pregnant when she went upstairs to model a dress for neighbor, Brooke Lynn Crews, in Apartment 5, 2825 Ninth Street North, Fargo. 

Three consent searches were made by police of the apartment complex in which Greywind’s family lived, but no information was forthcoming until Thursday, when police obtained a forensic warrant and discovered a healthy newborn infant inside apartment number five with Crews. 

Police believe the infant is Greywind’s baby girl, and are waiting on DNA test results.

Five days after Greywind disappeared, Fargo Police arrested Crews, 38, and William Henry Hoehn, 32, and say they believe they have the right suspects. Both were charged with Class A felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping by police. 

The Fargo Police Department reported receiving more than 150 tips during the week of investigation, and combed more than 35 areas of interest. Since police became involved, a total of 35 detectives, four sergeants, two lieutenants, cadaver dogs, K-9s, watercraft, aircraft, and a deputy chief have been working around the clock on this investigation, Todd said.

Police combed a cornfield and other areas in Dilworth, Moorhead, along the Red River banks, and other areas connected to suspects’ GPS information, while green-shirted volunteers led by Belcourt Rural Fire Department fanned out across multiple points of interest near Trollwood Park over the weekend. 

More than 400 people showed up for Fargo’s Native American Commission annual picnic, which after approval from Greywind’s family also became a march to Veteran’s Memorial Bridge on Saturday afternoon. 

No further information is available at this time. This is a breaking news story and updates will be posted when received.

Search for Savanna Continues

Two arrested, newborn infant found in Fargo apartment, volunteers flock to Trollwood Park to help search for missing Fargo woman

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Two Fargo residents were arrested Thursday afternoon in relation to the disappearance of Savanna Marie Greywind, but no charges have been filed by the Cass County State’s Attorney yet.

One of the suspects was found with a newborn infant in the apartment upstairs to where Greywind and family lived. Greywind, 22, was nearly eight months pregnant at the time of her disappearance last weekend, and police believe the baby is Greywind’s.

“The infant was alive and was immediately taken to a medical facility,” Todd said. “Detective interviews with the suspects indicate the baby girl is Savanna’s baby. We are doing DNA testing to confirm the identity of the baby, however, testing results can take several days.”

Police arrested 38 year-old Brooke Lynn Crews, who lived at Apartment 5, 2825 9th Street North, and arrested 32 year-old William Henry Hoehn at a traffic stop. They both lived at the North Fargo apartment, and they were charged by police with Class A felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

Brooke Lynn Crews and William Henry Hoehn – photo provided by the Fargo Police Department

Hoehn pled guilty of child neglect or abuse in Grand Forks County in 2012, according to North Dakota Supreme Courts Register of Actions. He was put on probation and ordered to attend psychological and domestic violence evaluations and parenting classes.

“We think we have the right people,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd said. “We’ve dedicated a lot of attention to this case, but until Wednesday, we had not established a criminal nexus to this case that would allow us to obtain warrants for residents and electronic devices.”

Since Greywind was reported missing last weekend, Fargo police, state and federal law enforcement agencies, have conducted constant surveillance, Todd said, investigating theories that Greywind was being held against her will, or that her unborn child had been removed or induced and was possibly alive.

In total, 35 detectives, four sergeants, two lieutenants, cadaver dogs, K-9s, watercraft, aircraft, and a deputy chief have been working around the clock on this investigation, Todd said.  

“Therefore, we were careful with what we were saying or releasing in fear that a suspect or suspects may panic and dispose of them in order to get rid of incriminating evidence,” Todd said.

Search volunteers line up to write down names – photo by C.S. Hagen

Before making the arrests, police performed three consent searches on the suspects’ apartment. The first search was allowed by Crews, and police did not find Savanna. Police went back later and did a second consent search, and still did not discover anything. A third search was conducted by a detective, which also came up empty.

“There is the possibility that the infant was not in the apartment, and may have been moved to a different location,” Todd said.

After a fourth complete forensics search was conducted on Thursday after warrants were obtained, police discovered the baby girl.

Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said his office has not officially filed charges against Hoehn and Crews yet.

Tarita Silk, Savanna Greywind’s aunt, talks to volunteers – photo by C.S. Hagen

“There are two people who are in jail right now, and we have been, in my office, in close communication with the police department on this matter,” Burdick said. “We are reviewing all the information that is available right now and determining what is appropriate as charges. At this point we have not filed any charges.”

Suspects may be held up to 48 hours without official charges being filed, Burdick said, which in this case will expire during the weekend.

“What we do in those situations is we obtain through the jail information from the arresting agency why they’re arrested and brought to jail,” Burdick said. “And that information is provided to the judge over the weekend, and then the judge will make a probable cause determination.

“The idea is to make sure within 48 hours a neutral magistrate has had an opportunity to determine whether it is appropriate for that person to be detained.”

Six days after Greywind disappeared, she remains missing, and the suspects are refusing to speak.  

“In the interviews when it comes to the topic of what happened to Savanna, neither Hoehn or Crews will cooperate with our investigation,” Todd said. “Both Hoehn and Crews have invoked their right to counsel and refuse to answer any more questions.”

“We don’t know what the condition of her well being is, I wish we did,” Todd said. “We’re exploring every option, chasing down every lead.”

One lead led to the old Trollwood Park Friday afternoon, where more than 85 people gathered to begin searching areas south of the park. Belcourt Rural Fire Department Chief Larry Mason and chaplain MJ Krogh supervised the search, sectioning off areas surrounded the nearby golf course and trailer park.

“We will continue until we have something,” Krogh said.

Some volunteers organized snacks and water bottles while others listed names and phone numbers on sheets of paper.

Belcourt Fire Chief Larry Mason begins designating search quadrants – photo by C.S. Hagen

Just before setting off, Mason warned everyone to be careful of poison ivy, and gave out additional instructions including not to touch anything suspect, but to take a picture, and report. He handed out maps, sectioning out search quadrants.

“This is the main area right here that they want us to search,” Mason said.

Tarita Silk, Greywind’s aunt, drove up from Rapid City, South Dakota yesterday. She swayed a baby back and forth while giving encouragement to the volunteers.

“I want to thank everyone who is helping, it really means alot to us,” Silk said. “Let’s find Savanna and bring her home.”

“Our number one goal here and all of our dedicated resources are going to find Savanna and bring her home hopefully safely,” Todd said.

 

Police are asking for the public’s help throughout the city to check garages, backyards, vacant apartments, and dumpsters, Todd said.

Authorities are also looking for a brownish 1996 Grand Jeep Cherokee with a Minnesota license plate number 876 EPR. Any information can be called into the police tip line at (701) 235-7335.

Brownish 1996 Grand Jeep Cherokee with a Minnesota license plate number 876 EPR

 

Former Drayton Foods Employee Claims She was Fired Unfairly, Sexually Harassed After Injuries

New American vows to take case to court, saying company abuses its immigrant workers

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– A former Drayton Foods, LLC employee filed a complaint against the frozen pizza and bread dough company claiming she was fired unjustly and sexually harassed after repeated injuries.

Halima Kwcrwb holds up her Drayton work tag – photo by C.S. Hagen

Halima Kwcrwb, 49, of Fargo, who worked for Drayton Foods, LLC for five years, claimed she was hurt twice while on the job, and filed twice for workers’ compensation with North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance, but was denied for wage loss benefits.

Similar petitions for assistance to Job Service North Dakota were also denied, because doctors said she was fit for general work, employment paperwork Kwcrwb provided stated.

Drayton Foods, LLC personnel records given by Kwcrwb indicate she quit, citing “self resignation due to job abandonment,” after a Last Chance Agreement was signed, and she had two consecutive no shows on December 15 and December 16, 2016.

“She was told by the doctor she was able to work,” company personnel paperwork stated. “Did not show up.”

“I was fired,” Kwcrwb said. Her first injury, which occurred after boxes of breadsticks fell on her left arm in August 2016, never truly healed, she said, and disagreements between company-appointed doctors and a doctor she saw on her own dime differ. She worked as a line operator and was paid $10.30 an hour.

“I loved my job, but my first injury happened in August, and I work with broken arm,” Kwcrwb said. “Even doctor gave me restriction to go to work, which I did. My world turned upside down when I was injured, not once, but twice at this company.”

The pain after her first injury became intolerable, but she said she continued to work as best she could with her arm in a sling. Hospital reports she provided report her arm was sprained. Some days the pain, which shot into her back and neck, was too much for her to go to work.

According to company paperwork provided by Kwcrwb, she was warned and then signed a Last Chance Agreement on October 25, 2016. Kwcrwb, who is originally from Sudan, speaks limited English, and has difficulty reading and writing. She said she did not understand what she signed, and that company personnel tricked her.

“You don’t sign it we’re sending you home,” Kwcrwb said.

Hospital records provided by Kwcrwb from September 8, 2016 reveal she was still in pain, but could return to general work and be “active as tolerated.”

Three months later on December 13, 2016, around 9:45 p.m., Kwcrwb fell while climbing a step at work, injuring her back and pelvic region. She said she lay flat, bleeding from a cut she received on her hip on the company floor for three hours before being taken to the emergency room.

Hospital records provided by Kwcrwb show that Kwcrwb was later prescribed Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, a highly addictive pain reliever, Ondansetron, a nausea preventative medicine, Prednisone, an anti-inflammation drug, and Topiramate, which helps prevent seizures, among other medicines and heat wraps.

Paperwork follow up examinations on December 15 and December 20, 2016, indicate Kwcrwb was to be put on restricted duty, limiting her movement and workload to lifting 10 pounds or less, due to a contusion to her lower back and pelvis.

Kwcrwb continued therapy until just before the New Years, according to hospital records provided by Kwcrwb.

Additional mistreatment included managerial staff allegedly asking her to trade sexual favors for lighter workload while recuperating, Kwcrwb claimed. Both times she was injured managerial staff told her to come back to work, and she was fired after her second injury on January 6, which she also claimed was a direct result of the first mishap.

“The manager asked if I would have boom-boom with him, or sex, and he would give me an easy job,” Kwcrwb said. “And I said, ‘I will never have sex with you.’”

“This accident was a direct result of not being able to properly perform my job due to my previous injury,” Kwcrwb said. “This company knows how to manipulate everything to find you at fault. When my doctor recommended further restrictions, my fear of losing my job was realized. Drayton wanted me to come back to work the day after being released from an overnight stay at the hospital following my second injury. When I refused, they told me I was fired.”

“There is a claim and it is open and active,” Clare Carlson, deputy director of WSI, or the North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance, said.

North Dakota Workforce Safety & Insurance is an employer financed insurance state fund covering workplace injuries and deaths, and is the sole provider and administrator of workers’ compensation including wage loss and medical benefits for injuries in the state.

Drayton Foods, LLC is listed as a foreign limited liability company in good standing registered in Delaware in December 1995, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State. The company has approximately 220 employees, according to business directory Buzzfile. 

Schwan’s Co. acquired Drayton Foods, LLC in July in order to increase its US pizza market capabilities, according to media outlet Food Business News. Drayton Foods, LLC has estimated annual revenue of $ 10 million, and primarily makes pizza crusts, dough balls, breadsticks, and dinner rolls, according to media outlet The Business Journals.

Kwcrwb is the mother of eight children, five of whom are either in college or have joined the Army. Today, she is a citizen of the United States – a New American – after escaping a war zone in her homeland nearly two decades ago. She said she never had issues at the company before, and rarely took a day off, working seven days a week while at Drayton Foods, LLC.

After a company manager suggested trading sex for a lighter workload, friends interceded with the manager on her behalf, and she was offered a raise, which she didn’t take, Kwcrwb said. Drayton Foods, LLC hired Kwcrwb on September 26, 2011, according to employment paperwork provided by Kwcrwb.

Kwcrwb made several reports to the company’s human resources department, but nothing was done, she said.

“In this company 90 percent of the employees are New Americans, most of whom cannot speak or write English well, which makes it difficult for them to understand the regulations. Drayton Foods takes advantage of this and abuses their employees.”

A coworker who spoke on the condition of anonymity said he approached the manager after Kwcrwb told him what happened. “She told me that the manager came to her and say, ‘Hey if you need an easy job at least you can sleep with me,’” the coworker said.

“I said ‘Okay, calm down,’ and I went to talk to the manager, but didn’t talk to the president.”  The manager denied the accusation, the coworker said. “He said he never did that to her. Sometimes they joke around with women, and if you are one of the employees and you do that you can be terminated immediately.”

The coworker also believes Kwcrwb was fired unfairly, adding that now she is having a difficult time paying bills.

“And that’s how they’ve been doing, as long as you’re injured they don’t consider you employed to them, you are nothing to them,” the coworker, who is from Moorhead, said.

In addition to her claims of being unjustly fired and sexually harassed, she said a company manager tried to intimidate her into working her normal job along as a line operator.

“He told me since I was hurt I would not last three days at the company,” Kwcrwb said. “He told me that no one would do anything about it because this is North Dakota law. He told me Job Service, WSI, and North Dakota labor enforcement would never do anything about it.”

Now, Kwcrwb said she is in danger of losing her home.

“I’m sharing my story now, because I know there are many others who have gone through what I’ve gone through,” Kwcrwb said. “I know my rights have been violated. I will take this case to court for everything Drayton has put me through.”

Halima Kwcrwb shuffles through a mound of paperwork regarding her employment and injuries – photo by C.S. Hagen

According to laws stipulated in the North Dakota Century Code, all employers, with limited exceptions, must cover workers – full-time, part-time, seasonal, or occasional – against injuries with WSI. Failure to comply could result in penalties and workers can sue an uninsured employer for damages caused. General liability, health, and accident insurance are not substitutes for workers’ compensation insurance, and employers must file applications with the WSI.

When an employer hires in the Peace Garden State, however, a bargain is legally struck with the employee, stipulating that an employee cannot sue an employer for injuries incurred on the job if the company has filed with WSI, a Fargo attorney said.

If, however, an employee is fired because the employer discovered he or she was seeking workers’ compensation benefits, such actions would be illegal and could be considered improper retaliation, the attorney said.

Additionally, if someone is hurt at work, an employer cannot simply fire the employee, rather the employer must interact with the employee in good faith, allowing the employee to maintain employment.

Multiple attempts to contact Drayton Foods, LLC management were made, but no one returned telephone calls for a response to the allegations.

“This Is A Brave Space”

Local white-rights activist claims Charlottesville rally was a trap, dozens gathered locally to remember a victim and renounce hate

By. C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Pete Tefft woke up Saturday morning in Charlottesville, Virginia, eager to march for what he believed in: white rights. The racist hors d’oeuvres from the night before – a torch lit march to the Confederacy’s top general Robert E Lee’s statue – was too small a sampling, and he wanted more.

Sure, fights had broken out Friday night. While being filmed by a Unicorn Riot crew he was challenged, and a like-minded person nearby clobbered the journalist.

Pete Tefft in Charlottesville Unit the Right Rally – Unicorn Riot screenshot of video

“Cite a source for what you’re saying about white people being murdered in South Africa,” the journalist said.

“Cite a source?” Tefft said. “On the Internet.”

“That’s a f*cking rabbit hole,” a bystander yelled, and then punched the journalist.

“Hard to get excited about walking into a war zone,” Tefft said. “Everyone needs to do their duty though. I’m still in shock from seeing our guys beaten, maced, and pelted with projectiles while the police stood by and did nothing.”

Saturday night at 8:29, live updates published by the Daily Stormer, a white nationalist platform featuring the Summer of Hate Edition, included congratulatory messages.

“To those of you in Charlottesville, go out and enjoy yourselves,” the update stated. “If you’re at a bar in a group, random girls will want to have sex with you. Because you’re the bad boys. The ultimate enemy of the state. Every girl on the planet wants your d*ck now.

“And to everyone, know this: we are now at war.”

The altercation Friday night didn’t leave Tefft fazed, nor did the violence the following day alter his conviction about white rights.

“The AltRight went to an assembly that was peaceful and legal,” Tefft wrote early Monday morning on his Facebook page. “The AltRight went to assemble in order to advocate for the rights of white people to exist and protest the erasure of American culture, history, and to uphold the First Amendment. We followed every legal measure and were cooperative with authorities…”

“The state violated our Constitutional rights and let Antifa and BLM do the knife work for them. Any blood is on the hands of the police, the city of Charlottesville, and the state of Virginia.”

Tefft continued by saying the rally was not a Ku Klux Klan or neo Nazi rally, but an AltRight rally.

Richard Spencer and white-right activists facing police line – online sources

“This was a rally by people advocating for white identity. And it was brutally shut down. The media sees the deaths as a godsend so that the tyranny of the government can be forgotten and retroactively justified,” Tefft said.

“It was a trap, plain and simple. But let us be clear. Ultimately, this was a victory for us. Our movement will be emboldened by Charlottesville. The ‘Unite the Right’ rally legitimized our struggle.

“The is the beginning of the white civil rights movement.”

Since Tefft’s turn to white supremacist ideals, friends and family have denounced him, yet he still remains loyal to his cause. His father, Pearce, recently published a letter condemning his son’s beliefs.

“I, along with all of his siblings and his entire family, wish to loudly repudiate my son’s vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric and actions,” Pearce Tefft wrote. “We do not know specifically where he learned these beliefs. He did not learn them at home.”

The Tefft family has remained mostly quiet since Fargoan Luke Safely identified Tefft as a Nazi last February.

“Peter Tefft, my son, is not welcome at our family gatherings any longer. I pray my prodigal son will renounce his hateful beliefs and return home. He once joked, ‘The thing about us fascists is, it’s not that we don’t believe in freedom of speech. You can say whatever you want. We’ll just throw you in an oven.’

“Peter, you will have to shovel our bodies into that oven, too. Please son, renounce the hate, accept and love all.”

So far, the Charlottesville tragic events have spurred little response from the state’s Republican leadership. Senator Heidi Heitkamp D-ND, tweeted Sunday evening. “Yesterday was a terrible and tragic day. The KKK and neo Nazis have no place in our country.”

On Sunday, Congressman Kevin Cramer R-ND, re-tweeted a post by Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representative, saying, “The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke pointed to President Donald Trump as the bedrock for the “Unite the Right” Charlottesville rally.

“Today will be a historic day, remembered as the moment everything changed,” Duke tweeted.

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country,” Duke said in a video uploaded to Twitter. “We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in, that’s why we voted for Donald Trump. Because he said he’s going to take our country back. That’s what we gotta do.”

James Bergman preparing to sing “We’ll Still Stand” – photo by C.S. Hagen

Later, Duke reminded President Trump on Twitter on exactly who his greatest constituency was. “I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror and remember it was white Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

Shortly after one woman, Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio, plowed into a crowd, and two police officer were killed when their helicopter crashed, Trump gave a press conference weakly condemning the violence.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence, on many sides,” Trump said. “On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country.”

At least 19 others were also injured during the rally.

Trump’s vague statement spurred Merck CEO Ken Crazier to quit the president’s manufacturing business council, according to the USA Today. His casual remarks also inspired a question from Richard Spenser, a white supremacist and president of the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank.

“Did Trump just denounce Antifa?” Spencer tweeted.

Heyer’s death prompted a Fargo/Moorhead response late Sunday night, when nearly 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge. With only a few hours of preparation time, Fargoan James Bergman wrote the song “We’ll Still Stand,” which he performed for the first time Sunday night.

“If I stand up against hate (in spite of all my fear), and someone strikes me down, the ground might be bloody but my conscience will be clear,” some of the song lyrics stated.

Candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge to remember Heather Heyer – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The idea that people who marched in Charlottesville believe they are Christian, that is disgusting to me,” Bergman later said before the crowd. “We can’t afford to be silent right now. We need to show up, we need to stand up, and we need to speak up against hate.”

Moorhead Mayor Del Ray Williams spoke at the event.

“I don’t know if racism or hatred has necessarily increased in our community,” Williams said. “It is a hard thing to measure. What seems to have changed is the nationalists seem to feel emboldened to speak out publicly. I am proud of our community members that came out to the candlelight vigil last night to offer support and love to counter the nationalist movement.”

Ruth Buffalo, an organizer of the event, encouraged people to speak their minds. “This is a brave space, to step forward and take action,” Buffalo said.

“We need to be kinder than is needed,” Jen Welle, of Moorhead said.

“This has been happening in our country for a long, long time and Heather is another name on that long list,” Melissa Gonzalez, of Fargo said.

“We are called to speak for those who are voiceless,” Martin Avery, of Fargo said.

Diogenes Alexander Rex and Hamida Dakane during the candlelight vigil on Veterans Memorial Bridge – photo by C.S. Hagen

Amal Dei, a former refugee from South Sudan, spoke about how her heart was torn apart when she heard of Heyer’s death. “But love will always win no matter what.”

Dana Bisignani, of the Democratic Socialist Party, quoted Welsh socialist Raymond Williams. “To be truly radical is to make hope possible, not despair convincing.

“Part of the reason we have so much hate is because of decades of decimating our public schools,” Bisignani said.

Shaun King, senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, condemned the violence in Charlottesville.

“I see Heather as a martyr in this modern day movement against injustice and oppression,” King said. “I’ve said it many times, but if you ever wondered what it would be like to be alive in the Civil Rights Movement, you are living in that time right now. And if you ever wondered who you would be or what you would do in those circumstances, the best indication is what you did this weekend.”

During a North Dakota United Against Hate rally in early August, Tefft said he planned to first attend the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, and then begin planning rallies in the Fargo/Moorhead area.

“I want to bring awareness to a lot of these issues, and the only way to do it is out in the public square,” Tefft said. One of the issues he plans on focusing on is mass immigration into North Dakota, which he claims is an anti-white policy.

Candlelight vigil in Fargo for Heather Heyer – photo by C.S. Hagen

Dave Piepkorn: Behind Bannon’s refugee resettlement plans?

Fargo city commissioner claims information provided to city is lies

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– The Fargo City Commissioner leading the charge against refugee resettlement in Fargo claimed partial responsibility this week for helping the national push on the same issue.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn – photo provided by City of Fargo

During an interview Monday morning on AM 1100 The Flag Need To Know Morning Show, Dave Piepkorn responded to information related to a Freedom of Information Act request, made to the city by the High Plains Reader, or HPR Magazine, into any connections between Piepkorn and Breitbart, an alt-right media outlet once managed by special advisor to President Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon.

Breitbart reporter Lee Stranahan attended a Fargo City Commissioners meeting last year and published a story about refugee resettlement in Breitbart on October 22, 2016.

HPR Magazine’s FOIA request was called a subpoena by a host on the Need To Know Morning Show.

“Obviously they’re trying to discredit me, doing whatever they can to do that,” Piepkorn said during the radio show. “What they thought was that Steve Bannon, as you know, who is active on the President’s staff, I think what they thought that they were basically telling me what to do and giving me instructions when actually, if you look back at the initial executive orders for refugee restrictions, they actually used quite a bit of my material in the original one, so that is what went down.”

Piepkorn admitted his self-reported influence at a national level pleased him.

“That’s very flattering, obviously to be a humble little city commissioner in Fargo, North Dakota, is pretty cool,” Piepkorn said.

Trump Administration executive orders filed on January 25, entitled “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” and “Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements,” and on January 27 entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” make no mention of any of the issues Piepkorn introduced to the City Commission on September 26, 2016.

During the meeting, Piepkorn raised the topic that Fargo, Cass County, West Fargo, and accompanying school districts were spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars on refugees in what he called an “unfunded mandate.”  

Worried about tuberculosis, Piepkorn also became critical of health records and criminal records of New Americans arriving in Fargo during the city commissioners meeting.

Exactly which refugee restriction policies Piepkorn claims to have influenced were unclear at this time. Piepkorn did not return direct calls for comment.

Refugee resettlement issues sparked a movement to recall Piepkorn’s seat as a commissioner for Fargo, which failed in May for lack of votes.

“Over the past two months our volunteers have worked ceaselessly to hold accountable a city commissioner who continues to abuse his power in the effort to denigrate and marginalize some of the city’s most vulnerable residents,” the recall committee said in a press release at the time.

“Piepkorn’s actions are the actions of a bully and we will continue to work to ensure that no elected official, especially those installed with a minority of votes, uses their office to spread fear, foment distrust, or divide our community.”

Since January 2002, 3,677 refugees were settled in Fargo, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota reported. A total of 1,553 people came from Bhutan, 811 people from Somalia, 672 from Iraq, 228 from Congo, 209 from Liberia, and 204 from Sudan. The American Communities Survey reports the population of foreign-born people in the Fargo/Moorhead area is 10,663, or 4.5% of total population, as of October 2016.

Piepkorn called to have city leaders included in refugee resettlement decisions, but he also stated on October 10, 2016 that he was shocked to learn that refugees receive all the rights of a legal resident.

For months, the Fargo City Commissioners have heard feedback from local businesses, from police, from Lutheran Social Services, and from others involved with refugee resettlement, all of whom have said that having refugees in the Fargo/Moorhead area are cost-positive.

“New Americans, or refugees and immigrants, make up approximately three percent of North Dakota’s population,” according to the American Immigration Council.

“They are employers, taxpayers, and workers in fields few local citizens are willing to go,” according to the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report filed by the Fargo Human Relations Commission.

“Foreign-born residents contributed $542.8 million to the city’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million,” the report states. “A first generation immigrant is cost-positive in North Dakota by approximately $3,250, and long-term benefits are incalculable,” according to the report.

The Fargo Police Department and the Fargo Human Relations Commission also published a report in January saying that crime rates are not higher in refugee populations.

“There are good and bad people in every population,” Fargo Police Officer and liaison to the Fargo Human Relations Commission Vince Kempf said. “In my experience, the ratio of persons committing crime remains the same from culture to culture. From a law enforcement perspective, the cost of refugees being placed in Fargo is impossible to calculate, as are the benefits of having refugees settled here.”

According to the American Community Survey immigrants are less likely to be criminals than native-born people, citing U.S. Census Bureau statistics incarceration rates of 1.6 percent of immigrant males aged 18 to 39 as opposed to 3.3 percent rate of native-born males of the same age group.

The total population of Fargo is 105,549, of which 95,205 are white, 3,137 are Asian, 2,852 are African American, 2,308 are Hispanic, 2,206 are two or more races, and 1,452 are Native Americans, according to statistics provided in 2017 by the U.S. Census Bureau.These numbers do not reflect areas surrounding Fargo, including West Fargo or outlying areas.

Fargo reflects state statistics as being 90 percent white  
In the state, Native Americans make up for the second largest demographic, with 605,449 white people, and 36,591 Native Americans. Only 7,960 people are listed as African American, and 13,467 as Hispanic, according to 2017 U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

The issue has been brought to the state legislation’s attention, which has agreed to a series of meetings to discuss the refugee resettlement issue in North Dakota.

While on live radio, Piepkorn pointed out that people have been lying to the Fargo City Commissioners.

“And I do think that this next step with the legislature having this review, that’s way more serious because it’s one thing to have a city commissioner asking questions, but when you start not telling the truth to a legislative committee and will have the state auditor and things like that involved, it’s much more serious when you don’t tell the truth,” Piepkorn said.

“There’s this idea that the ball is hidden somewhere,” Fargo Community Development Administrator Dan Mahli, said. “No one is hiding the ball. We’re not keeping track of that level of detail, when someone uses city services, or calls the fire department, or the police. Sitting down and talking about where we are at and finding out how we can improve. Let’s do that.”

Separating who is a refugee and who is not is a near impossible task, Mahli said.

“The thing that stands out is that every one of these studies speaks of the difficulty of segregating the data between foreign-born populations, refugee status, and people of color,” Mahli said. “The idea of comparing the studies, that frankly none of them are about refugees, even the one from the finance committee, it says the information herein cannot be separated as a refugee study.”

Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition and of the Fargo Human Relations Commission, said Piepkorn’s allegations that people have been lying to the city commissioners saddens him.

“I think it’s a sad state of affairs when you have a seated elected official who doesn’t like the information being reported on by a group of citizens and volunteers who work diligently on trying to do justice,” Nelson said. “And he ends up calling the information fake news, propaganda and lies. It’s a very, very sad state of affairs.”

Nelson, along with city employees, Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota employees, have repeatedly asked for a sit down with Piepkorn.  

“Let’s have a conversation,” Nelson said. “Dave Piepkorn has never reached out to any one of us who did this at his request. He’s never wanted to talk about it, and again he didn’t show up for the report.”

While not trimming lawns, Piepkorn also serves as the deputy mayor of Fargo, and formerly served as a member of the FargoDome Authority.

“There are people watching what we are doing around the country,” Piepkorn said. “And actually the world too, without a doubt. This is going to be one of the key issues around the 2018 election cycle, and it’s a huge deal.”

Piepkorn also said there is no shortage of laborers in Fargo, but there is a shortage of people willing to work for $10 an hour.

Specific expenditures on how much refugees cost the city have so far been difficult to discover, according to testimonies before the Fargo City Commissioners.

Piepkorn thinks differently.

“These numbers aren’t difficult to find at all, they’re difficult to reveal to the public, because you know, obviously a lot of people don’t want to go through what I’ve gone through,” Piepkorn said. “The numbers aren’t hard to find at all, they’re all there. The challenge is to find the courage to disclose them to the public because of political correctness.”

Fargo Police Chief Todd said his department has provided all the financial figures possible, including the cost of employing a cultural liaison officer.

“We did supply financial costs as what we put into it as a department,” Todd said. “Another separate question we have gotten that I have not been able to answer is arrest statistics for New Americans and refugees.”

Police departments do not collect data on whether someone is a refugee, but they do collect data on race.

“But just because you are African American doesn’t mean you are a refugee or a New American, you might be from Chicago, and been there your whole life, or you might be from Somalia. I can’t differentiate within that race statistic as to who is New American and who is a refugee.”

Todd said he had no issues with an investigation into the costs of refugee resettlement.

“People have asked me whether I think it’s appropriate to ask questions about what things cost,” Todd said.  “We should do our best to answer those questions. I also think it’s an opportunity for the refugee community and new American community that yes, these are the costs the government may have, but here’s the benefit of the result of that investment.”

Targeting approximately three percent of Fargo’s population is a political issue, as well as a humanitarian one, Nelson said in April.

“The attempt to isolate residents in an attempt to identify costs is next to impossible and illegitimate without context,” Nelson said. “In the context and level of our community assessment it appears that the positive financial and cultural impacts far outweigh any initial costs of investment.”

“Terminating or slowing down the refugee resettlement program would have a negative cycle of effects on the City of Fargo, both immediate and long term,” the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report handed to the city commissioners stated.

“Immediate effects would include further exacerbating the workforce shortage, requiring more businesses to leave and/or outsource their operations. Long-term effects include economic slowdown due to a loss of business revenue and creating an inability to keep our younger generation in Fargo and/or attract new talent to the area.”

Despite the testimonies, Piepkorn remains unmoved.

“It goes along with the High Plains Reader, they’re trying to discredit what we’re trying to do,” Piepkorn said during the radio show. “And it’s not surprising. Liberals have their agenda, and they’re the opposition.”

Surviving Hate in the Peace Garden State

A former North Dakotan speaks about life as a racial target

By C.S. Hagen
VALLEY CITY
– The hate Matthew Kinslow experienced while growing up in North Dakota reads like someone’s long and horrid to-do list.

The Kinslow family – photo provided by Matthew Kinslow

Half Korean, half German, Kinslow was smaller than other children his age. He was quiet. Dark haired, brown eyed. An easy target. Poor. Sometimes people thought he was gay because he dressed differently.

“Since I travelled and saw the world I couldn’t really understand the people I grew up around,” Kinslow said. “And of course, they couldn’t understand me. I had a world-is-tiny view, and they lived in a bubble.”

A bubble of racial stereotypes, he said, that left him on the receiving end of scorn and fists at Valley City High School.

“I remember in school when we were learning about the Vietnam War, all the kids in the school started to hunt me like I was an enemy,” Kinslow said.

“They’d ask me stupid questions about rice paddies and eating dog. Had guns pulled on me. My friends and I got put in the hospital because we were listening to rap music. I’ve been held down and spat on, called all kinds of names. I was always called racial slurs growing up, literally almost every day. I used to hang around Native Americans a lot because I could blend in a lot more.”

In the early 2000s, when the Nationalist Socialist Party of North Dakota was attempting to gain a foothold in the state, Kinslow had a cousin with a white supremacist message – “14 Words” – tattooed to his forearm. The racist group met secretly in a barn outside of the city. The reference “14 Words,” is a white supremacist slogan originally 88 words in length and straight from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

“I’ve been told if ‘you ain’t white, so you ain’t right,’ a few times.”

His biggest ‘mistake’ in his adolescent years was to hug a white girl that was dating a friend.

“Her cousin called her a race traitor,” Kinslow, now 38, said. “I started talking sh*t to him and he got a shotgun out.”

Thinking quickly, Kinslow wrestled the shotgun away, and threw it into a ditch, he said. Later that month, police charged him with theft of a firearm, and Kinslow spent two weeks sitting in Barnes County Correctional Facility to ponder how the charge was possible.

He couldn’t afford the $1,000  fine. LaMoure County Sheriff’s Department incident reports state that two weapons were taken from Casey Kuska’s vehicle, parked at a Cenex in Dickey, North Dakota. One of the weapons was a bolt action .270-caliber Remington and the second was a 12-gauge pump action shotgun. Both weapons had a total value of $743, police reports indicated. A second suspect was also included in the police investigation.

At the time, no one could, or would vouch for Kinslow’s version of events, which included that he did not take any weapons from the vehicle, Kinslow said.

14 Words tattoo – photo provided by Matthew Kinslow

Admittedly, that year wasn’t the best time for Kinslow. “My mom had cancer, and my dad and I were fighting as I was living with a friend’s parents,” Kinslow said. “There wasn’t anyone to tell them they pulled on me, it was a crazy situation.”

As far as he knows, the person who pulled a shotgun on him walked. “When you’re growing up, you think it’s normal.” After staying in North Dakota to serve out his probationary period, Kinslow moved to Colorado.

“It really does come from the culture though,” he said. “You can see the older people instill these tendencies, and they make light of things they say and how they perceive people. It trickles down.”

The racial slurs, the beat-downs, the racially motivated hate Kinslow experienced as a child brewed anger in him at a young age, he said. “Took me a lot of counseling and anger management to shed it, but I think it made me a stronger person. It made me an activist. Takes a lot of words to rile me up now.”

Now, Kinslow, with two daughters whose DNA results showed they have the blood of nearly every race on earth, won’t tolerate intolerance. “Everyone has prejudices and hates certain people, you’re conditioned to it, but still have to leave people alone.”

He tried rehab three times, took anger management classes. Doctors prescribed muscle relaxers, Tramadol, Ritalin, and Zoloft, to help with pain, physical and emotional, but nothing worked until his third attempt, Kinslow said. Through his trials, however, Kinslow has learned empathy, which in hindsight, he didn’t think possible.

“My wife thinks it’s strange I can always tell when someone’s having a bad day or is sad, even strangers. I’ll walk up and give strangers hugs. I’m not scared to help.”

Hate crime legislation in North Dakota is needed, Kinslow said, but laws won’t solve prejudice.

“It’s a double-edged sword. Having the law doesn’t make people hate less, it’s a crappy culture that does. It’s socially acceptable to be racist. Laws don’t stop people from doing things, laws just make it easier to point fingers and tell them that they’re bad people. “

Dialogue is what is needed, Kinslow said. “I’ve known it existed my whole life and I’m fine with it. I know it won’t go away, and I’m okay with that. It’s harder for me to hear people say it doesn’t exist than to see it happen.

“When you denounce its existence you make the incident okay.”

A few years ago, former Valley City Attorney Russell Myhre would not have agreed that the state needed hate crime legislation.

“In light of events in North Dakota in the past few years, I have changed my mind,” Myhre, who now runs a private practice in Valley City, said. “Leith, NoDAPL, the Grand Forks incident, and some other less notorious criminal acts,” are examples of why the state needs hate crime legislation, he said.

“Motive, while a notable explanation for criminal assault or homicide, is not a legal element of the crime,” Myhre said. “Hate crime legislation would make motive an element, which would highlight an aggravating circumstance in terms of sentencing.”

In other words, those convicted of hate crimes would face tougher sentences.

“This gets to the fundamental question of whether society believes it is necessary to penalize bias and prejudice when it is a factor in the commission of a crime,” Myhre said.

North Dakota already ranks second in the nation for hate crimes, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. So far in 2017, the state is doing little to change that statistic, and the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition has documented four incidents of hate crimes this year in Fargo.  

“North Dakota already has similar statutes in place for dangerous sexual offenders, habitual criminals, crimes involving firearms, etc.,” Myhre said. “There are also statutes which give judges discretion for aggravating (and mitigating) factors. The question is whether society believes prejudice-based crimes, overtly committed, are worthy of a focused attention by enacting them into law.”

Some say the state already has its bases covered with current laws. The recent Walmart incident that went viral online when a white woman, Amber Hensley, threatened three Muslim women with death brought a range of ideas to the forefront.

“Anyone but a white Christian woman would be in jail,” Jana Stone, of Colorado, said in a Facebook post. “Without all the posting and hell raising, it would have received zero attention by anyone.”

“If their races and religions were reversed, ICE and the FBI would have gotten involved,” Rissa Williams, of Bismarck, said in a Facebook post.

“The whole idea of ‘hate’ crime as a legal definition is rather absurd,” Fargoan Adam Carico said. “If someone murders someone, is it any less heinous if they did not do it because of the victim’s skin color or religious beliefs or gender?”

“Diversity is code for ‘anti-white,’” Nick Bata, a Fargoan who campaigned unsuccessfully for North Dakota Insurance Commissioner as a Libertarian last year, said on Facebook. Bata is the candidate who used the phrase, “Make America Rape Again,” in a public Facebook thread in 2016. Bata said at the time he wouldn’t apologize for making the statement, saying the phrase was a sarcastic response to an inaccurate allegation, according to media reports.

“Left-wing proponents of hate crime legislation suggest that the stiffer penalties for crimes motivated by things like the race or sexual orientation of the victim serve as a deterrent to those crimes, but does that pass the smell test?” Rob Port, an editorialist with the Forum Communication Company said on his “Say Anything Blog.”

“There is no conclusive evidence that the increasing number of hate crime laws on the books in states across the nation have reduced hate crime at all,” Port said. “Most states have hate crime legislation today, and yet nationally the FBI’s measure of the incidence of hate crimes has remained relatively static.”

“Thought policing is wrong, and that is what hate crime legislation essentially is,” Fargoan Pete Tefft, a self-declared pro-white activist, said. Tefft plans to attend the AltRight’s Unite the Right rally on August 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Afterward, Tefft said, he plans to hold a rally in Fargo to bring attention to the idea that suppressing hate speech is the same as denying freedom of speech.

“Hate crime legislation is one piece of a larger puzzle in fighting hate crime,” Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said. “It is a recognition by the state that crimes committed against individuals based on their identification with a group has unique impact on that individual and community. We are looking at both city ordinances as well as state legislation which we recognize will require much education and advocacy.”

For proponents of hate crime legislation in North Dakota, an assault conviction is not enough if racial hate is involved. Advocacy groups’ goals are to bring hate crime laws to the legislature in 2019, and in the meantime raise awareness and support, and establish a rapid response team, Nelson said.

The rapid response team – expected to be established within a month – will include professionals, law enforcement personnel, training staff, and a publicity committee to assist with hate crime responses, Nelson said.

“It does not take into account the fact that hate crimes can affect a whole group of people,” Nelson said. “I also think for the record it should be noted if the crime was based on hate. Having a conviction for assault alone does not adequately address the seriousness of a hate crime.”

Kinslow is still hoping that the governor will one day pardon him, clearing his record. His cousin involved with white supremacy groups committed suicide, he said, but he’s overcome the angry demons that once haunted him.

Kinslow remembers the day when he stopped being ashamed of his ancestry. It was on a homecoming date in junior high. His friend didn’t want to dance with his date, so she asked Kinslow for a dance. She didn’t care that he looked different than the uniformly white classmates, and they spent the rest of the evening discussing why he shouldn’t care what other people thought.

“If they’re going to pick on you when you’re trying not to get picked on, so why not give them a reason? That way it’s not for nothing,” Kinslow said the girl told him.

“I kinda lost my fear after that.”

When Kinslow was 14, he saw a classmate’s father scream at his sons, and beat one of them with a belt – the same boy that picked on him at school.

“I felt so bad for them,” Kinslow said. “It’s like I saw the hate they had, but it was taught. They learned it. I can’t hate back at people like that, it’s not their fault.

“I was never really ashamed of my culture, just was ignorant of the fact that it should be the opposite,” Kinslow said. “I should have been ashamed of American culture for making me feel that way, even though I was American. It’s why I can’t have pride in my country.

“How can a country be proud when it shames its own citizens for being different?”

Is It Time For Hate Crime Legislation?

Activists and a handful of counter protesters gather in the rain to discuss hate crime legislation and support for victims

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Afternoon rain didn’t stop nearly 200 people from supporting an anti-hate rally Wednesday outside current City Hall. The event also attracted counter protesters, although they predominantly remained quiet.

Hukun Abdullahi and David Myers at the rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

Christians, Jews, Muslims, and activists spoke at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally in an attempt to garner support for hate crime victims and to begin the campaign of making hate-crime laws, which North Dakota does not currently have.

Groups such as the Democratic Socialists of America and Trans Lives Matter also showed up in support of the cause.

David Myers, a Jew, and founder of the Center for Interfaith Projects, a nonprofit organization, said much if not all hostility toward refugees is actually hostility targeting Muslims.

“I feel religiously called to welcome refugees and immigrants, including Muslims, indeed all the New Americans,” Myers said. “I am aware of the long history of prejudice against Jews. Jews have been and still are in many places of the world the ‘hated other.’ This enables me to put myself in the place of New Americans, who are Muslims.”

“The question is: how can we reduce hate directed at Muslims?”

Religious prejudice can be overcome through knowledge and personal relationships, Myers said.

“We cannot forget that a number of decades ago, the most hated religious groups in this country were Jews and Catholics,” Myers said. “This has dramatically changed.”

The two groups that people in the United States feel most positive about today are Jews and Catholics, he said.

“Do not hate the stranger in your heart, it will poison you, and make your life miserable,” Myers said.

The rally was interrupted halfway through one of the speeches, when Kevin Benko, of Fargo, shouted from a nearby parking lot.

“Hate speech is just a difference of opinion, you assholes,” Benko said.

Police officers approached him, while Pete Tefft, identified as a Nazi by Fargoan Luke Safely in February, came over to offer support.

“Muslims who are not assimilated are a problem,” Benko said. “They are under Sharia law, and if that conflicts with the Constitution, the Constitution gets thrown out.”

When asked if he disagreed with the state accepting more refugees, Benko said as long as they assimilated, he didn’t have a problem.

Kevin Benko talking to police – photo by C.S. Hagen

Tefft, who wore a red “Make America Great Again” Trump hat, said he had friends with him, but they were there primarily to watch his back. He didn’t admit to being a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathizer, but worries that by 2050 white people in America will be the minority.

“My contention is that most of what constitutes hate speech affects pro-white speech,” Tefft said. “Anti hate speech is synonymous with anti-white and anti-America.”

Since being identified as a Nazi, he has received death threats, and has been followed out of bars for his white supremacy beliefs.

Pete Tefft – photo by C.S. Hagen

“I’m a pro-white activist,” Tefft said. “Nazi is a racial pejorative, kinda like our N-word. If you want to be real, myself, a pro-white activist, maybe some National Socialists and other pro-white organizations, typically have been the only ones willing to stand forward to protect the freedoms of everyone on the right.”

So far, his beliefs and followers have had little more than an online presence. Two days before the rally, an advertisement appeared on Facebook entitled “Anti-white Speech Discussion,” organized by Hal Resnick, which was scheduled for the same time. 

Resnick is listed as the new unit leader for the Nazi party, or Nationalist Socialist Movement of North Dakota, according to the Nationalist Socialist Magazine, or NSM88. The numerals stand for the letter H, short for “Heil Hitler.”

Tefft was hoping for more people to attend the rally, he said. The North Dakota United Against Hate Facebook page had more than 700 people interested in going, and nearly 350 going to the event. Due to the rain, approximately 200 people showed, Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf said.

Tefft plans to hold his own rally soon, he said. “I want to bring awareness to a lot of these issues and the only way to do it is out in the public square.”

One of his upcoming rally’s intentions is to show that mass immigration into North Dakota is an anti-white policy, he said.

“We’re expected to foot the bill and not ask any questions,” Tefft said.

Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn’s controversial proposal last fall into investigating the costs behind refugees in Fargo is not enough, Tefft said. He called Piepkorn an “economic fetishist,” concerned primarily with financial statistics and not with white civil rights and anti-white policies.

James Bergman and Pete Tefft at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

The investigation has sparked numerous protests, including an attempt to force Pipekorn to step down.

An organizer of Wednesday’s event, Michelle Ridz, of the High Plains Fair Housing Center, told those gathered to join the fight against hate crime on Facebook, where future incidents can be reported, and a task force would soon be formed to deal with such acts.

More than 30 percent of hate crimes occur near the home, Ridz said.

“What is more unsettling is being targeted in your own home?” Ridz said.

Most hate crimes are not reported, but victims can find recourse through the Federal Fair Housing Act, she said.

Reverend Michelle Webber, pastor of the First Congregational UCC Church in Moorhead, said once she saw the rains coming, she thought about staying home.

Musa B Bajaber speaking at the North Dakota United Against Hate rally – photo by C.S. Hagen

“It sure would be nice to stay in my living room, but then I thought, people who experience hate speech and hate violence don’t get to choose when it’s convenient for them,” Webber said.

“Speaking against hate, wet from the rain, is a privilege.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand said growing up in the North Dakota countryside offered him a perspective Fargoan can practice to begin understanding each other.

“My suggestion to all of us in our community is that we wave at each other, we greet each other, we genuinely ask how are you doing today when we see other people,” Strand said. “We mean it, we just don’t do it for the sake of, but you act, and engage and you learn from each other.”

Many of the speakers referred to the Walmart parking lot incident where a white woman, Amber Hensley, yelled at three Muslim women, “we are going to kill you all.”

“A simple story of anger and hate that turned into forgiveness,” Musa B Bajaber said of the incident. “I am sure that Amber did get emails and messages from idiots who said they got her back, and I am sure that Sarah and Layela were asked to push further and never to budge. But all three disappointed those who wanted to see an escalation, and we should salute them for that.

“People of Fargo and Moorhead through the experience we have been through and the happy ending to it, we put a dent on the hateful rhetoric that is sweeping the United States,” Bajaber said.

“Hate crime is not just emotional and instilling fear in the community,” Barry Nelson of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition said. “It also has dramatic economic impacts on the people who have been affected.” Two people in recent years who were the victims of hate crimes can no longer work, Nelson said, and need help.

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand speaking – photo by C.S. Hagen

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney, whose message was read by Strand, said the city and the state have no choice but to grow.

“The Fargo I know is a city that celebrates and promotes diversity, all while preserving and respecting our citizens’ safety and dignity,” Mahoney said. “We must commit ourselves to resist hate and violence in all forms. We need to agree that fellow citizens sometimes may need a hand up, and not a hand down. We also need to realize that someday, due to circumstances beyond our control, we could become refugees. It could happen to any one of us, and how would we want to be treated.”

“We need to support victims of hate crimes and send a strong message that this behavior has zero tolerance here.”

“Those of us who have been here so long we never talked about it [hate crimes],” Fowzia Adde, executive director of the Immigrant Development Center, said. “It’s better for us to talk about it now, or our community will not grow. We want to hold hands. We want our children to have a future, here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hate Crime Law Discussion Sparks Fierce Debate

Call for disguised Nazis to counter anti-hate rally, verbal punches thrown in mainstream editorials  

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Moments before Makruun Hagar lost his nose, he tried to settle a domestic fight between a married couple, which began in the back of his taxi cab.

But when he intervened, he said he was called racial slurs, and then Dominque Martinez attacked — punching his head then biting off his nose, permanently disfiguring him.

A struggle with police later ensued, but not before Martinez’s wife was struck and bit as well, the West Fargo Police Department’s incident report stated.

Police reports indicate Hagar might have saved the woman’s life.

“She was pretty sure that if she had not had help that Dominque would have more than likely have killed her that night,” West Fargo Police Detective Greg Warren stated in the police report.

Makruun Hagar – photo by C.S. Hagen

The incident was labelled as an assault case, and Martinez was later found not criminally responsible in August 2015 by a Cass County judge, because he suffered from PTSD after duty with Marines in Afghanistan. He was remanded to the custody of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center for five years, according to court documents.

Nearly three years later, Hagar’s nose has healed, but a dark brown patch stands as a stark testimony to the assault. He keeps the bloodstained t-shirt he wore that day in November 2014 close, as a constant reminder of hate, and as a warning to his five young children.

“He brought a lot of problems for me and my family,” Hagar said. “Nobody can help, doctors can’t do anything anymore.”

In the winter months, he has difficulty breathing. He’s still on medication, but the long term effects aren’t just physical.

“Everyday, when I pick up people, sometimes people ask me about my religion, and then they ask if I’m a terrorist,” Hagar, who escaped the wars and famine in Somalia in 2005, said. “If someone bit my nose, and if I was white, the community would help.”

Days after a local white woman, Amber Elizabeth Hensley, threatened to kill all Muslims in a Walmart parking lot while being filmed, the incident was swept under the rug after apologies were made. But rising local civil rights leader, Hukun Abdullahi, founder of the Afro American Development Association, spoke before the Fargo City Commissioners meeting this week saying that city leaders were partly responsible for the recent uptick in hate-related crimes: five incidents so far in 2017.

(left to right) Rowda Soyan, Sarah and Laleyla Hassan prepare to speak about their encounter with racism at the local Walmart – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Time has come to address the elephant in the room,” Abdullahi said. “As much as me and my organization have tried to bolster confidence among refugees and immigrants and have focused on integration efforts and unity over the months, we have started realizing it has just been a one-way process. The state and the city asking for how much it cost to have refugees in the communities, while is a sensible question from the financial standpoint, it has negatively impacted our image in the community, and might also have increased the number of hostile incidents geared towards refugees.”

Hagar, like many new Americans who have settled in the Fargo area in recent years, is black skinned, and speaks with an accent. He is different from the predominantly white community North Dakota has fostered since its inception in 1889.

Some in Fargo, don’t like the change, and think inquiries into costs behind refugees, initiated by Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, are warranted. A battle of words ensued.

“Abdullahi has branded perfectly legitimate inquiry into public policy as tantamount to inciting racially-motivated incidents,” Rob Port, The Forum editorialist of Say Anything Blog said. “That’s not something a person interested in comity and sound public policy does.”

When confronted about the editorial as race baiting by Kade Ferris, social media director for Unity-USA, Port denied the claim on  Facebook.

“No. Just not willing to let a rank opportunist sideline an important debate,” Port said.

“So you do this by being a rank opportunist yourself?” Ferris said.

“No more anti-white speech,” Fargoan Pete Tefft, wrote on his Facebook page. Tefft was identified by Fargo resident Luke Safely as a Nazi sympathizer in February after an incident with a lone pickup truck waving a Confederate flag cruised Broadway.

“We should fight rhetoric with rhetoric,” Tefft said in a Facebook post. “The ‘refugee’ resettlement program is anti-white policy. Multiculturalism to this degree will never work unless draconian laws are passed. Policies that hinder birth rate[s] of one group (the major ethnic group), and strengthen another is the definitely [definition] of genocide.”

On the Daily Stormer website, Tefft, who also goes by the name Chad Radkersburg, said Hensley did nothing wrong, and that he is planning on speaking out.

“Rally to support her is planned. Working on meeting organizer. She is no Chad, so she cucked and apologized.”

Mike McFeely, a radio personality and editorialist for The Forum, took the first shot on July 27 saying North Dakota Nice is more like North Dakota Nasty.

“The Band-Aid started to be peeled back a few years ago when some in the media began to target refugees and immigrants as a problem and, with Facebook and talk radio at our disposal, we began to hear some of the ugliness that previously hadn’t crawled out from under the rocks,” McFeely wrote. “More recently, a city commissioner and a county commissioner began to question the cost of refugees to the almighty taxpayer—hey, they were just innocently asking questions and most certainly not playing to a base of racists and xenophobes—and the warts were exposed some more.”

Nazis called to Fargo
For a few minutes early Monday morning, an advertisement appeared on Facebook entitled “Anti-white Speech Discussion,” organized by Hal Resnick, scheduled for August 2, at 5:29 p.m., at the Fargo Civic Center, which coincides with the North Dakota United Against Hate rally.

Resnick is listed as the new unit leader for the Nazi party, or Nationalist Socialist Movement of North Dakota, according to the Nationalist Socialist Magazine, or NSM88. The numerals stand for the letter H, short for “Heil Hitler.”

The advertisement was quickly taken down, but during the few minutes it was online, it attracted at least 12 people who identified with “white identity,” and “civil rights.”

A description for the event sponsored by the Flyovers, FEHU, and the National Socialist Movement of North Dakota, condemned anti-white speech, calling civil rights workers today as guilty participants in white genocide.

The Flyovers short-lived logo while advertising to counter rally August 2 rally against hate crime

“All attendees are encouraged to come incognito,” the description reported. “In the last few months it has become increasingly clear that any and all pro-diversity, pro-refugee, pro-hate speech laws is [are] implicitly anti white. Pro-diversity speech to many people means less white people.”

Pro-hate speech was linked to thought policing, for which there are laws called conspiracy laws, the description continued. “Passing policies that lower birth rates and negatively affect the majority ethnic group for the interests of another group is classified as genocide. Pro-white speech is not hate speech. Censoring pro-white speech is a civil and human rights violation.”

The organizations involved pinpointed the need to show support for recent victims, to ensure no one is singled out because of race, religion, but also called attention to the need to bring awareness for “white rights.” Organizers also called on state and federal agencies to investigate recent incidents of anti-white policies and crimes of conspiracy and for those found offending to be brought up on crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit ethnic genocide.

“Attempts to silence us will be seen as admittance of guilt to our charges,” the description reported. “We call upon Fargo leaders to vow to uphold free speech laws to further discuss these issues and to denounce ‘hate speech law advocates’ as anti-American.”

In February, posters were stapled to telephone poles around the downtown area promoting white power, and were reportedly sponsored by “The Flyovers,” which depicted the communist hammer and sickle, the Jewish star, a syringe, and a marijuana leaf as rain falling on a family under an umbrella emblazoned with a symbol reminiscent of a swastika. Other posters were reportedly supported by VDare, Counter-Currents, American Renaissance, The Right Stuff, Redice.TV, and The Occidental Observer, all of whom are listed as nationalistic and racial purist hate organizations.

The Flyovers is a reference to the areas usually looked over by national politics, or the flyover states, and their support for Trump and predominantly white heritage, according to Unity-USA, a nonprofit hate watch organization.

City challenged on hate
“This has been a very trying week for the Fargo-Moorhead community, following the incident of Islamophobia which took place at the Fargo Walmart,” Ferris said. “The fact that there could be an amicable resolution to this sad event gives us hope. However, we cannot overlook the fact that this event is just a real-world manifestation of racist and prejudicial feelings that are bubbling beneath the surface here in this community.”

Ferris defended Abdullahi’s speech before the Fargo City Commissioners, saying current laws or lack thereof, the mainstream media, and certain city leaders have guided the tension to a boiling point.

“When local politicians publicly vilify entire groups, such as the growing immigrant population, to score cheap points in their upcoming election, or when local media personalities post leading and biased news stories to drum up ratings, it can only end in a case such as this,” Ferris said. “Just look at any story about immigrants on some of our local news outlets. Go to the comment section to get a sense of the real feelings of some of the people out there. The words of Amber Hensley are pretty much par for the course for many who haunt these stories for a chance to spew their own nativist and prejudiced bile.”

“In the past year, North Dakota has become the laughing stock of the global community, Andrea Denault, legislative coordinator with North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said. “Our cartoonish militarized response to unarmed water protectors at Standing Rock, recent FBI statistics revealing we are second in the nation for hate crimes, and now viral videos recording xenophobic hate speech from a Fargo parking lot, there is no hiding. We have earned a reputation for ourselves.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand asked Abdullahi to speak before the city commissioners’ meeting, saying that it’s no secret that the diversity issue has been an important one for the city for the past year. Days before the Walmart incident occurred, the Human Relations Commission was discussing how the city would move forward when confronted with hate crimes and hate speech, Strand said.

“Who would have thought the next day that the community would be challenged with something of that nature that really put Fargo on the map in a way that is not very much what we would like to see,” Strand said.

“We’ve had an interesting week,” Mayor Tim Mahoney said. “We really need to look at hate crime legislation in our state.”

Barry Nelson, of the Human Relations Commission and of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, asked the question is there more hate crime in Fargo now, or are people reporting more? North Dakota ranks second in the nation for hate crime incidents, he said.

“Are we a community in a position to respond appropriately?” Nelson said before the city commissioners meeting. “Is the crime being charged out appropriately? Is our judicial system in a position to make sure that justice is being served? I do have some serious questions about all of these aspects. Is any level of hate crime and hate speech acceptable in our community?”

To combat hate crime, laws must be in place, Nelson said. North Dakota does not recognize hate crimes, citing that state legislation already protects victims of assault.

Nelson cited an example of hate crime, an assault on a refugee while moving into an apartment, in which one of the perpetrators was released from jail and fined $250.

Education and hate crime laws are the answers to combat hate crime, Nelson said.

Chair of the Human Relations Commission, Rachel Hoffman, and Nelson said the rally on Wednesday was meant to raise awareness about hate crime, help raise financial support for victims, such as Hagar, and to once again put hate crime legislation on the state’s agenda.

“The Walmart incident is an example of what is wrong with our community,” Abdullahi said. “Ethnic communities like ours are losing our battles to integrate communities and no help appears on the horizon. Fear, anger, superiority, religion, differences, hostile media- all these negatives have consumed people, and sadly, it is a shame that the city has basically stayed quiet.”

“If we are to move forward as a community we need to make sure to stand up whenever we hear or see discrimination of any sort,” Ferris said. “For a long time, North Dakota nice has been putting on a smile for the public and pretend to be welcoming, while holding tight-lipped deep feelings of passive-aggressiveness and prejudice for fear of insulting our neighbors and publicly humiliating ourselves.  However, since the last election cycle, such niceness has gone out the window. We need to reclaim nice. We need to make it mean something. It cannot just be words. It must be action, and it is the responsibility of everyone.”

Denault said that the year-long investigation into the costs of refugees is inappropriate.

“I don’t often like to talk about ‘just the numbers’ though because these are people who are more than just a unit of labor,” Denault said. “They are human beings fighting for their lives.”

“We live in an agricultural state,” Denault said. “Think of how many farmers are receiving farm subsidies. You don’t see anyone accosting them at Walmart and threatening to kill them. It would be preposterous. The same goes for these random acts of racism towards Natives and New Americans. The xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, it all comes from fundamentally misguided notions about other groups of people, particularly the misinformation about how much these groups ‘cost’ us.”

“When you get to know a lot of the members of the New American community you’ll realize that they are not just refugees. Many of them are second and third generation North Dakotans, people whose parents, after obtaining legal U.S. citizenship, still decided to stay in North Dakota because they love it here. They’ve opened businesses, bought homes, they are paying taxes. They are literally contributing to the economy in the exact same way everyone else is. None of them deserve this type of treatment.”

The North Dakota United Against Hate rally is scheduled for Wednesday, August 2, at 5:30 p.m. by the Fargo Civic Center.

 

Forgive, but let’s not forget

Women in death threat dispute meet and reconcile

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Two of the three Somali-American women threatened with murder two days ago by a white woman outside a local Walmart, met their attacker Thursday afternoon at the Fargo Police Department, and left in friendship.

“We hugged her, we cried,” Sarah Hassan, one of the victims, said. “I love her.”

On Tuesday evening Amber Elizabeth Hensley was filmed through 15-second WeChat video clips threatening the Hassan sisters and Rowda Soyan around 5:30pm.

The Hassan sisters accompany police officers to a scheduled meeting with their attacker – photo by C.S. Hagen

Leyla admittedly parked too close to Hensley’s blue Honda, and the incident led to Hensley threatening all three Muslim women, wearing hijabs, with death.

On Thursday, however, tempers had cooled after a firestorm of commentary on social media.

“We brought people together and they met each other,” Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf said after the 90-minute meeting. “Relationship building, there was forgiveness and quite possible friendship at the end of the meeting.”

Both Sarah and her sister Leyla have been in Fargo nearly three years, and speak near-perfect English. They wear hijabs, and are Somalis from India originally. Both said Hensley’s apology was genuine, and that they have been invited to her house for Christmas.

“It feels good, to be honest,” Leyla said after the meeting.

“She’s a nice person,” Sarah said. “She had the idea that all Muslims are bad. We just talked about peace.”

“I think things went too far,” Leyla said. After the meeting, both Fargo women wanted to go immediately to Horab & Wentz, CPA, Hensley’s former place of work, to ask the owners to give Hensley’s job back. Hensley was fired Wednesday, one day after the hate crime was committed.

Horab & Wentz owner and CPA, Scott Wentz, said his accounting firm received hundreds of emails and calls from around the world.

Charges could have been filed against Hensley, Kempf said. With the city dealing with five hate crimes halfway through 2017, mediation and forgiveness was the better route.

“Unfortunately, incidents like what happened this week and the social media commentary following it can cause further division and set us back from progress we are trying to make as a community,” Fargo Police Chief David Todd said.

“I want to put before you an example of what can be accomplished even though mistakes were made and unfortunate words were said. Amber Hensley, Sarah Hassan and Leyla Hassan have all expressed regret regarding their interaction and language with each other.”

The women met, talked through the incident, and regrets were voiced from all sides. Forgiveness followed, Todd said.

Hukun Abdullahi, founder of Afro American Development Association, spent much of the afternoon assisting the peace process. He spoke with Hensley’s former bosses and asked for her job back as well. So far, the owners have declined, Abdullahi said.

The Hassan sister leave meeting – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Everybody can make a mistake,” Abdullahi said. “I am very happy she came out and apologized for what she did to the victims. As a community, anything can happen, but we can get together to bring a better solution.”

While Abdullahi was busy helping the Hassan sisters, he received two hateful messages.

“Come to this country, follow our values,” a man named Adam White said in a message to Abdhullahi. “Or you can go back to where you come from.”

Another message written by a man named Lamar Avery, who used a picture of Adolf Hitler as his avatar, told Abdullahi a similar message. “Maybe you should go back to the country where you came from bitch, Americans don’t cater to Muslim terrorist scum.”

“We have some ugliness in our community that needs to be addressed and worked on,” Todd said. “Social media shows us that, however, perhaps we can all take a lesson from what was an ugly unfortunate interaction and how even despite words being said that cannot be taken back, forgiveness and understanding can still be achieved.”

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand, who has put the issue of hate crimes on the next city council agenda, was elated by the news both sides had reconciled.

“If everybody on all fronts can strive to get as much as possible to the higher ground and to see things in the bigger picture and go forward in a way where we undoubtedly become a better community because of it, that’s what we’re aiming for,” Strand said.

“These little steps really add up, and it’s up to all of us which steps we take and I hope we make the best choices possible.”

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