Muslim group asks FBI to investigate ‘KKK’ and swastika graffiti
By Matt Russell
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
The Minnesota Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking the FBI to investigate “KKK” and swastika graffiti on the home of Somali family in Rochester as a possible hate crime.
“We urge the FBI and state law enforcement authorities to treat this incident as a civil rights violation and to send a strong message that incidents of hate will not be tolerated in our community,” said Lori Saroya, CAIR’s Minnesota president.
The graffiti was written on the side of a home in northwest Rochester with black spray paint on Wednesday night.
“It’s kind of a scary thing to look at,” said Ayan Hilowle, 23, whose mother and father live with six children in the house. “In the beginning, we thought it was kids joking around, but this was a very hateful thing to do. It was like, ‘What’s next? Are they going to burn our house down?'”
Hilowle’s family moved to the United States from Somalia in 1996. They lived in Owatonna until 2004, then moved to Rochester. Hilowle said they’ve had some negative comments from people since moving to the U.S. but have encountered nothing like the recent vandalism.
Hilowle’s mother, Zainab Hassan, said that she would tell the vandals if she could that the family has been in the U.S. for 15 years and it’s their home now. “We’re not going anywhere,” she said.
Neighbors rallied around the family Thursday night, helping scrub the paint off the side of the house.
Saroya said her organization is reaching out to the Rochester Muslim community and will be conducting safety trainings and outreach sessions there.
Hilowle, who considers the spray paint vandalism a hate crime, said her family’s house has been targeted before.
In the first incident last fall, a woman threw a beer bottle from a passing vehicle at a car parked in the driveway and broke a window, Hilowle said. The house was shot by a paintball gun soon after, and a month later Hassan mother noticed slit marks in the mailbox. A police officer said the holes appeared to have been made by a knife, Hilowle said.
“They thought it was a knife because it was really sharp and it had a weird edge to it,” she said.
Shortly after the mailbox incident, the family found a strange set of footprints through the snow that led to a patio door. There was no sign anyone tried to enter the house, Hilowle said, but “it was like, ‘Who would creep up there in the middle of the night?'”
The house of Hilowle’s family was the only one hit by spray-paint vandalism in the area Wednesday night, said Rochester police Capt. Brian Winters. Police canvassed the neighborhood Thursday and looked for evidence, Winters said. It will take further investigation to conclude whether the vandalism incidents are connected, he said.
Original post: Muslim group asks FBI to investigate ‘KKK’ and swastika graffiti