Skip to main content

It's hard to believe that this would happen in 2012.  It's hard for Minnesotans to believe that it would happen in northern Minnesota.  Sadly, it's true.  There was an 8 foot cross set ablaze in a woman's front yard just north of Bemidji, MN.

On May 25, a woman called the Beltrami County Sheriff's department in northern Minnesota to report that a large cross had been leaned against a tree in her yard and set on fire.  The flames were shooting five feet into the air.

The woman who lives there is white, but her two grown children are multi-racial.  The incident is under investigation by the county sheriff's department, the FBI, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and two arrests have been made.

The two men arrested are 19 and 20 years old.  Apparently the 20-year-old built the cross and enlisted the help of his friend.  They then drew swastikas and wrote racial epithets and threats on the cross before taking it to the house and setting it on fire.

Those are the facts of the case.

The emotions of the case go much deeper, however.

Bemidji is a small city with a population of 13,400.  It is home to one of Minnesota's state universities, and is the largest city in a radius of approximately 100 miles.  Like many small towns and cities across America, Bemidji has had its share of shameful racist incidents.  However, this blatant display of overt racism has shaken the community.  It seems to be forcing the community to take a long, hard look at itself.  A long overdue look.

Shared Vision, a community group dedicated to addressing racial diversity and disparity in the greater Bemidji area is working with the ACLU-MN to coordinate a community round table discussion of historical contexts of cross burnings and their lingering effects on a community.

Because Bemidji is home to a state university, there are people of many cultures and races who live in town.  There is also a large Native American population, both in town and in the surrounding area.  

I know from my own observations about the racism that our Native American brothers and sisters are so often subjected to here.  Indians seem to be pulled over in traffic stops much more often than non-Indian folks.  It feels as if all eyes are on them when they're walking through stores.  When you read the police and court reports in the newspaper,  Indians seem to be over-represented.  These are the everyday, soul-crushing incidents that local Native Americans are forced to live with.

The recent cross burning brings years of covert and quiet racism out into the open.  Perhaps it will serve to start an honest and open conversation about racial attitudes here in the Northland.


Originally posted to RuralLiberal on Sat Jun 16, 2012 at 12:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots, Invisible People, and RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, a gilas girl, Ed in Montana, MadRuth, Geenius at Wrok, Shockwave, LynChi, Stein, eeff, rubyr, opinionated, Wee Mama, magnetics, retLT, Iberian, splashy, Cedwyn, TexDem, Tracker, Oaktown Girl, Marianne Benz, Black Max, oortdust, sb, Alice Venturi, reflectionsv37, PSzymeczek, SaraBeth, Sun Tzu, GreyHawk, sofia, skyounkin, Steve in Urbana, kaliope, mph2005, FindingMyVoice, SSMir, kishik, sideboth, BachFan, irishwitch, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, dharmafarmer, Kimball Cross, Gorette, seefleur, kestrel9000, blueoasis, mithra, BlueMississippi, bumbi, Cenobyte, CA Nana, Texdude50, means are the ends, blueoregon, Statusquomustgo, blueintheface, ms badger, Aaa T Tudeattack, pgm 01, tgypsy, devis1, EdSF, karmsy, edsbrooklyn, rgjdmls, bnasley, jayden, cyncynical, SeaTurtle, millwood, OIL GUY, leonard145b, spearfish, cacamp, on the cusp, Empower Ink, gizmo59, JayC, wyvern, ajr111240, Sharon Wraight, royce, petulans, luckylizard, BlueStateRedhead, Nica24, dmhlt 66, DavidW, shortgirl, jlms qkw, MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel, ceebee7, jarbyus, WakeUpNeo, jennylind, moonbatlulu, dskoe, Alise, degreesofgray, Denise Oliver Velez, Amber6541, Just Bob, chambord, marabout40, Laurilei, roadbear, NJpeach, Polly Syllabic, Eddie L, JoanMar, samanthab, anonevent, rja, TheHalfrican, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, annieli, Barbara Marquardt, kerflooey, meralda, agrenadier, bgblcklab1, implicate order, ontheleftcoast, FarWestGirl, Haf2Read, sethtriggs, thomask, Muskegon Critic, Ojibwa, BarackStarObama, SueM1121, enhydra lutris, Bill in MD, Calvino Partigiani, chira2, Marihilda, Desert Scientist, Democrats Ramshield, blue aardvark, SoCalSal, googie, Rashaverak, Only Needs a Beat, jacey, Pinto Pony, GenXangster, Liberal Granny, sow hat, RVKU, angry marmot, Siri, IndieGuy, joanil, Socratic Method, draa, congenitalefty, Horace Boothroyd III, This old man, Forward is D not R, Halandri, jan4insight, scarolinamom, belinda ridgewood, MartyM, BRog, tytalus, ItsaMathJoke, Glen The Plumber, mumtaznepal, peptabysmal, Portlaw, Hammerhand, corpsechorus, ymv6, broths, weck, Yastreblyansky, QDMacaw

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site