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.
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 aftera 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.
“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, he 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 a 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.
“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 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.
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