Sunday, October 02, 2016
Call mayor's office if you want to help the victims; FBI leader's comments about attacker's inspiration are important on several levels
People hold signs in support of area muslim residents during a rally organized by UniteCloud Friday, Sept. 30, on the steps of the Stearns County Courthouse in St. Cloud. (Photo: Dave Schwarz)
Two weeks after the Crossroads Center attacks, nothing speaks louder about the strength — yes, strength — of St. Cloud's cultural climate than the expansive and ongoing efforts to make sure these attacks do not tear us apart.
The latest came Friday when #UniteCloud held its "Stand Together" rally at the Stearns County Courthouse. Led by #UniteCloud, individuals and representatives of various community groups gathered to affirm the rights of all people who live here, and promote understanding of differences.
"Stand Together" followed similar rallies and shows of support last week at St. Cloud State University, downtown and at Crossroads. From faith leaders to elected officials, from moms to mayors, the message being delivered is this community is united, and its residents will not judge any group based on the actions of one person.
It's also important to note how broad the support is for those messages. Witness the full-page advertisement on Page 9A of the Sunday Times. Backers of that statement represent a range of private, nonprofit and public organizations across Central Minnesota.
More rallies and events are planned, and Central Minnesotans should take part.
From 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, a Unity Walk will take place from the St. Cloud Public Library to the courthouse. It's open to everyone. Local faith leaders and the United Way of St. Cloud Area are the primary organizers. T-shirts with the word "United" written in English, Spanish and Somali will be available. Open and closing prayers will be spoken in those three languages, too. Call the United Way at 252-0227 for more information.
A crowd gathers around the Stearns County Courthouse during a rally organized by UniteCloud Friday, Sept. 30, in St. Cloud. (Photo: Dave Schwarz)
Another always-engaging event is the 11th annual Conversation on Race from 7:30-10:30 a.m. Oct. 18 at the River's Edge Convention Center. Create Community, a driving force in community unity for more than a decade, is putting on this annual community discussion. For more information and ticket information, please contact Create Community at 310-2246.
Help for victims?
Help for the 10 victims of the Sept. 17 stabbings is one thing that might have gotten lost in the chaos and national media crush the past few weeks.
However, it's not too late to help. Mayor Dave Kleis says his office is serving as a clearinghouse for offers of help for the victims. From cash donations to counseling services, if you want to reach out to help any of the victims, you can call the mayor's office at 255-7201.
Staff will consult with you and work to match your desired donation with potential needs of the victims.
Keep details coming
Whether it's good or bad, more information is always better than less — or worse, not knowing.
Central Minnesotans learned that painful lesson at the start of the month with the Jacob Wetterling case. Now, these past two weeks, we're learning it again in the wake of these attacks.
Supporters hold signs and listen to speakers during a rally organized by UniteCloud Friday, Sept. 30, on the steps of the Stearns County Courthouse in St. Cloud. (Photo: Dave Schwarz)
Witness testimony Wednesday from FBI Director James Comey at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Comey stated attacker Dahir Adan was motivated “by some sort of inspiration from radical Islamic groups.”
Comey's comments are helpful on two fronts.
First, more information is always better. They provided the first substantial information from the FBI after its Joint Terrorism Task Force had taken over the investigation from St. Cloud police. Given it's an active investigation, which allows authorities to keep many details confidential, it's reasonable to question just how much more the public would learn and how soon.
This is a good sign for transparency. The next step should be releasing videotapes of what happened in Crossroads.
Second and more important, Comey's comments are the clearest answer yet in trying to determine why Adan attacked and stabbed 10 people. Understandably, everyone wants to know whether Adan acted on his own or if he was acting under the direction of any radical Islam group.
It's absolutely critical to note Comey's choice of words — "some sort of inspiration."
Contrary to national media reports and even questioning at Tuesday's presidential debate, that does not mean this was terrorism ordered, organized and executed through any radical group.
As Comey also noted in his testimony, investigators continue to review Adan's electronic records for more clues about his actions.
Again, more information is better than less. We look forward to the FBI sharing those findings with the public.