Minnesota Town (Murdock) Approves Permit For White-Only Church, Says It’s Not Racist

When the church doors open, only white people will be allowed inside.

That’s the message the Asatru Folk Assembly in Murdock, Minnesota, is sending after being granted a conditional use permit to open a church there and practice its pre-Christian religion that originated in northern Europe.

Despite a council vote officially approving the permit this month, residents are pushing back against the decision.

Opponents have collected about 50,000 signatures on an online petition to stop the all-white church from making its home in the farming town of 280 people.

“I think they thought they could fly under the radar in a small town like this, but we’d like to keep the pressure on them,” said Peter Kennedy, a longtime Murdock resident. “Racism is not welcome here.”

Many locals said they support the growing population of Latinos, who have moved to the area in the past decade because of job opportunities, over the church.

“Just because the council gave them a conditional permit does not mean that the town and people in the area surrounding will not be vigilant in watching and protecting our area,” Jean Lesteberg, who lives in the neighboring town of De Graff, wrote on the city’s Facebook page.

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Asatru Folk Assembly as a “neo-Volkisch hate group” that couches “their bigotry in baseless claims of bloodlines grounding the superiority of one’s white identity.”

Many residents call them a white supremacist or white separatist group, but church members deny it.

“We’re not. It’s just simply not true,” said Allen Turnage, a folk assembly board member. “Just because we respect our own culture, that doesn’t mean we are denigrating someone else’s.”

The group, based in Brownsville, California, says teachings and membership are for those of strictly European bloodlines.

The church was looking for a new church in the eastern North Dakota region when they came across Murdock. It’s unknown how many members they have worldwide or how many people will attend the new church.

“We do not need salvation. All we need is freedom to face our destiny with courage and honor,” the group wrote on its website about their beliefs. “We honor the Gods under the names given to them by our Germanic/Norse ancestors.”

Their forefathers, according to the website, were “Angels and Saxons, Lombards and Heruli, Goths and Vikings, and, as sons and daughters of these people, they are united by ties of blood and culture undimmed by centuries.”

“We respect the ways our ancestors viewed the world and approached the universe a thousand years ago,” Turnage said.

Murdock council members said they do not support the church but were legally obligated to approve the permit, which they did in a 3-1 decision.

“We were highly advised by our attorney to pass this permit for legal reasons to protect the First Amendment rights,” Mayor Craig Kavanagh said. “We knew that if this was going to be denied, we were going to have a legal battle on our hands that could be pretty expensive.”

City Attorney Don Wilcox said it came down to free speech and freedom of religion.

“I think there’s a great deal of sentiment in the town that they don’t want that group there,” he said. “You can’t just bar people from practicing whatever religion they want or saying anything they want as long as it doesn’t incite violence.”

The farming town about a 115-mile drive west of Minneapolis is known for producing corn and soybeans, which are shipped across the country. Latinos make up about 20 percent of Murdock’s small population. Many are day laborers from Mexico and Central America, city officials said.

“We’re a welcoming community,” Kennedy said, rejecting the Asatru Folk Assembly’s exclusionary beliefs. “That’s not at all what the people of Murdock feel. Nobody had a problem with the Hispanics here.”

The AFA purchased its building this year on property in a residential zone. Constructed as a Lutheran church before the zoning was changed, it was later converted to a private residence. The folk assembly needed the permit to convert the residence back to a church.

“It’s ironic the city council didn’t want to commit discrimination against the church, but the church is discriminating against Blacks,” said Abigail Suiter, 33, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “It’s very telling of where the priority is and whose lives matter.”

Prominent lawyers disagree on the council’s options heading into the vote. Some of the debate centered on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, which protects religious institutions and churches from unduly burdens and discriminatory land-use regulations.

Laurence H. Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said the council might have been able to prevent the private sale of the property, had it known about it, through laws focused on forbidding racial discrimination in property transactions.

“No institution that proposes to exclude people on account of race is allowed to run an operation in the state of Minnesota,” Tribe said.

Kavanagh said he stands by the council vote “for legal reasons only.”

“The biggest thing people don’t understand is, because we’ve approved this permit, all of a sudden everyone feels this town is racist, and that isn’t the case,” he said. “Just because we voted yes doesn’t mean we’re racist.”

Source: NBC News

Philadelphia City Council Takes Steps To Formally Apologize For Deadly 1985 Bombing Of A Black Neighborhood

Philadelphia City Council voted Thursday to apologize for the MOVE bombing 35 years ago that left 11 people dead, including five children, and burned 61 homes in West Philadelphia.

The resolution, approved almost unanimously (Councilmember Brian O’Neill said he opposed it), represents the first formal apology offered by the city for the May 13, 1985, bombing. It also establishes the anniversary of the bombing as “an annual day of observation, reflection and recommitment.”

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, whose West Philadelphia district includes the neighborhood destroyed by the bombing, sponsored the resolution. She introduced it days after the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. less than a mile away from the site of the bombing. She linked the two events in a speech to City Council last month.

“We can draw a straight line from the unresolved pain and trauma of that day to Walter Wallace Jr.’s killing earlier this week in the very same neighborhood,” Gauthier said. “Because what’s lying under the surface here is a lack of recognition of the humanity of Black people from law enforcement.”

In 1985, police dropped an explosive device on the roof of 6221 Osage Ave. after a daylong confrontation with the Black radical and naturalist group MOVE, as officers attempted to evict them from their compound. The majority of the victims were Black.

W. Wilson Goode Sr., who was mayor at the time, called on the city to issue a formal apology in an op-ed published by The Guardian before the 35th anniversary. “The event will remain on my conscience for the rest of my life,” he wrote.

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are at an ‘Alarming Level’, UN Says

Experts from the United Nations (UN) formally expressed concerns about the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the alleged lack of measures from authorities to combat them.

The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), serve as rapporteurs on (1) contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; (2) human rights of migrants; and (3) discrimination against women and girls.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19,” experts continued.

These included vandalism, verbal harassment, physical attacks, and refusal of service and access.

Verbal harassment comprised the majority of the incidents. Victims reportedly heard profanities such as “f**ing Chinese,” “die ch*nk die,” “yellow n*****” and “go back to China, b**ch!”

The group also cited the alleged link between President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and the surge in hate incidents. They noted that his actions have been “seemingly legitimizing” the phenomenon.

Trump has used controversial terms to refer to COVID-19, including “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “China Plague,” “Wuhan Virus,” “Kung Flu.” The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the UN, has long opposed the use of such terms.

“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus.’ The official name for the disease [COVID-19] was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the agency said in March.

Congress has since introduced bills (House of RepresentativesSenate) condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. The House passed its version by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) last month, which led to attacks against the official herself.

‘Kobe Bryant Day’ officially passed by Orange County Board of Supervisors; set for August 24 (8/24) to honor both jersey numbers worn by Bryant during 20-year career with Los Angeles Lakers

105045238-GettyImages-927413268.jpg

The Orange County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to make Aug. 24 “Kobe Bryant Day,” according to TMZ Sports.

The date honors the two jerseys worn by Bryant during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, No. 8 and No. 24. The Hall of Famer was killed in January in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter Gianna and seven other people.

Los Angeles City Council had previously celebrated a Kobe Bryant Day on Aug. 24 in 2016 following his retirement from the NBA.

Source: Bleacher Report

Asian Americans face dual challenges: Surging unemployment and racism

Screen Shot 2020-08-04 at 10.56.43 AMScreen Shot 2020-08-04 at 11.04.21 AM

A new study from UCLA reports that since the start of the pandemic, 83 percent of the Asian American labor force with high school degrees or lower has filed unemployment insurance claims in California — the state with the highest population of Asian Americans — compared to 37 percent of the rest of the state’s labor force with the same level of education.

At the same time, new research shows that discrimination against Asian Americans is surging. More than 2,300 Asian Americans had reported bias incidents as of July 15, according to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, or A3PCON, which hosts the self-reporting tool Stop AAPI Hate.

The UCLA report, published last week, examined the impacts of the coronavirus on the Asian American labor force in California. It revealed that disadvantaged Asians working in service industries have been “severely impacted.”

Researcher Paul Ong, who worked on the report, said that beyond pervasive service industry struggles, he believes people are abandoning Asian establishments because of biases.

“This is why racializing COVID-19 as ‘the China virus’ has profound societal repercussions. We have seen this in the increase in verbal and physical attacks on Asians and in material ways in terms of joblessness and business failures,” he said in an interview.

Source: NBC News