Somalis report Confederate flag waving, threats after St. Cloud stabbings

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Doualy Xaykaothao • St. Cloud, Minn.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rescue workers gather near Macy’s at Crossroads Center Saturday night following a knife attack that wounded 10. Dave Schwarz | St. Cloud Times


Less than 24 hours after the Saturday knife attack at the Crossroads Center mallthat injured 10 and left the assailant dead, there were reports of motorcyclists and drivers in pickup trucks going through Somali neighborhoods in St. Cloud, waving large Confederate and U.S. flags.

Doll Hussein and Abdi Fadumo, both 56, described what they’d seen while sitting outside their apartment building. Through an interpreter, they spoke of loud vehicles and people “screaming” and waving signs and flags. They said they were terrified.

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Their interpreter, a 32-year-old Somali-American, didn’t want to be identified, fearing retaliation.

“Why hate?” he asked. “Why show us the flag? Does that flag not represent us, as an American? Are we not included in that flag?”

It’s a conversation that he’s having with many people, including his mother’s neighbor, Joel Stoltz.

Stoltz, a longtime St. Cloud resident, also saw the group of motorcyclists and truck drivers on Sunday.

“I don’t think they’re meaning any harm, as much as they’re making a statement that what happened was wrong,” Stoltz said. “They were angered by it.”

• A community conversation: What it is like to be Somali in St. Cloud

Federal investigators say they are still looking into why a 20-year-old Somali man from St. Cloud attacked people at a shopping mall. Police have identified the dead assailant as Dahir Adan.

Adan’s family said in a written statement released Monday they were mourning their son and praying for the recovery of the injured. They also said they intend to cooperate with investigators “within the limits of the law.”

Across from the apartment building where Adan once lived, one man had a lot to say about Somalis, but didn’t offer his last name.

“My name is John, that’s as far as I’m going,” he said. He’s 59, and claims Somalis in central Minnesota are not assimilating.

“My mother’s a war bride from Paris, and they came here, they assimilated. All the Somalis, they want their people here, and they want their religion, and their laws. They’re getting all the free money they can get, using everything up. I’m tired of it,” he said.

Comments like his are familiar to Lul Hersi, a Somali single mom of four children. She works as a professional interpreter and translator at local hospitals.

“People are scared,” she said. “People are being bullied. Driving by, people are called names. … We are being victimized and terrorized, all over, every day.”

To Muhayadin Mohamed, president of the Islamic Center of St. Cloud, the hostility toward the Somali community is unacceptable.

“We’re angry, too. We are saddened about what happened, and we don’t want this in our city,” he said. “So the people who are trying to put us on a different side and say, ‘You did it to us,’ we are saying, ‘This happened to us, and we have to stand together to face this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.'”

For now, investigators say they believe Adan acted alone. Federal authorities are trying to determine whether the mall stabbing was a potential terrorist act.

 

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