Speaking Out Against Hate Crimes in Wake of Violence

Post a Comment » Written on October 5th, 2009     
Filed under: News
BROOKLYN PARK, MN (October 5, 2009) – Steven P. Larson, pastor of Redeemer Covenant Church, emceed a rally of more than 150 people who gathered Thursday to stand against hate crimes in the wake of the beating and robbery of a black man in this racially diverse community.

Three men have been arrested in the September 23 attacks on 18-year-old Derrick Thomas who, authorities said, has autism and the mental capacity of someone eight to ten years old.

The men knocked Thomas from his bicycle a short distance from his home, and three blocks from Redeemer Covenant. They threatened him with an ax, brass knuckles, and a gun.

The trio beat and kicked Thomas while yelling a racial epithet. They then forced him to strip naked, and they robbed him, taking even his shoes, blue jeans, and shirt.

Thomas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “They said, ‘Every black person that comes through our park, we’re gonna kick their butt. We don’t like black people, period.’ ”

A short time later Johnny Robinson, 40, was also attacked. He is Thomas’s uncle.

Brooklyn Park is also now listed as one of the most diverse cities in the state of Minnesota, says Larson. “It is the fifth largest community in the state and has surpassed both St. Paul and Minneapolis in the percentage of Hispanic population living in its boundaries. We also have one of the largest population of Liberians living outside the country of Liberia.”

The rally was held at the community center located just a few blocks away from the park where the attack occurred. The event reflected the area’s diversity. Local clergy planned the rally, at which the chief of police spoke, along with other local and state leaders.

Larson condemned the trio’s actions and told the gathering that the violence also harmed the community. “The bruises that Derrick and Johnny received during the attack will take a while to heal, but the community sense of safety will take just as long. It is the reason we need to draw the community together now.”

“Tonight is an opportunity for us to say tonight we are reclaiming every mile, every footprint, every place of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center.” Larson said.

He called on the attendees to continue battling racism. “You carry with you the spark of what was going on here tonight. If we don’t share that, we’ve snuffed out the light.”

Thomas attended the rally and thanked the people who came out to support him. His foster mother, Jerry Searcy, said, “I hope people can forgive the ones that did this, and I hope they know people are not going to tolerate this in this day, it is inexcusable.”

To see a local news report of the event, click here:

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