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Juveniles charged in attack on Bloomington imam

Juveniles charged in attack on Bloomington imam

On the day two juveniles were charged in connection with the attack of a Dar Al-Farooq imam in Bloomington, political and religious leaders from Minnesota gathered to denounce the attack.

A 16-year-old Bloomington boy and a 13-year-old boy were charged in connection with the attack of a 50-year-old Bloomington man, an imam at Dar Al-Farooq, that occurred the evening of Aug. 6. The imam was walking to the Dar Al-Farooq center at approximately 10 p.m. when he was assaulted. He was treated for a non-life threatening upper body injury, according to Bloomington Deputy Chief Mike Hartley.

The 16-year-old boy was charged with aiding and abetting third-degree assault, causing substantial bodily harm. No additional information about the 13-year-old suspect was released by the police department. Based upon statements from the victim and one of the suspects, the police department does not think bias or hate were motivating factors in the assault, Hartley noted.

The juvenile court petition against the 16-year-old details the case against him.

The victim told police officers responding to the assault that both males struck or kicked him near the crosswalk at the intersection of Park Avenue and 82nd Street. One of the males attempted to pull the victim to the ground by his shoulder and arm, and the victim attempted to push the duo away. The attack resulted in two fractures to the victim’s shoulder, but nothing was taken from the victim, according to the petition.

Surveillance video from the Dar Al-Farooq property and interviews with witnesses determined that the suspects had been at nearby Smith Park prior to the attack, where they retreated following the assault. One of the witnesses interviewed by investigators said the duo had talked about robbing somebody because they needed money. The witness also provided names and addresses of the suspects, the petition noted.

One of the suspects said in an interview following his arrest that he did not hit the victim, but “shook him up,” and possibly pushed him, in an act of “dumb fun.”

Gov. Tim Walz was among the elected leaders who spoke outside Dar Al-Farooq during the afternoon of Aug. 14, following a meeting among leaders of Dar Al-Farooq and several elected officials.

“Every family, every Minnesotan, every child should have the ability to live their lives in safety,” Walz said. He called for a collective solution to addressing inclusion and pushing back against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, saying that every child should be able to walk down a street and feel valued, included and protected, “and know that that is a feeling that stretches across this state.”

He thanked Dar Al-Farooq for demonstrating resiliency, after noting that it had been the site of an early morning bombing three years earlier. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all,” Walz concluded, adding that “hate has no home in Minnesota.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said that while policy changes, task forces and hate crime legislation can make a difference, “We need to change people’s hearts and minds.”

She said discussions of race and inclusion are uncomfortable, and often prompt people to change the subject. But people need to be uncomfortable for neighbors to feel safe and included, Flanagan explained. “We have to reckon with the fact that this is exactly who we are,” she said.

Attorney General Keith Ellison said he was gratified and proud to see religious communities standing together, saying that faith communities need to stand up for other communities when they are under attack. “We are one human family,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips called those who attacked the imam anti-American. “Patriots protect one another from violence and from danger,” he said. “That is the America that so many of us are working towards,” he added.

“Those of you who feel the same, join us. One heart, one mind, and one day at a time.”