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

How Chinese-Canadian Division One Basketball Player Ben Li (Lehigh University) Silences Racist Trash-Talkers On The Court

Chinese-Canadian NCAA division one basketball prospect Ben Li has received all the Asian-related racist jibes under the sun.

“I’ve heard all the names right when I step onto the court. From the players it’d be all comparisons to any Asian thing – soy sauce, Jackie Chan, Yao Ming, small eyes. Like I’d be shooting free throws and another team would be standing right there saying ‘can you even see the rim?’ and all that,” the 19-year-old Lehigh University, Pennsylvania first-year said.

Born in Toronto to native Chinese parents, Li defied the odds, stereotypes and stigma to make history as the first ethnic-Chinese player to make the All-Canadian game last year. It is but only the beginning of the forward’s mission to reach the NBA and the Chinese national team.

Already touted as the “Chinese Zion Williamson” by adoring media, Li hoped his unconventionally large physical presence on the court would help rid the arena of any prejudices. Otherwise he will have to take into his own hands.

“It’s definitely annoying but over time, their words didn’t matter to me. Most of the time they were trash-talking and all that, they were usually down. So any time they’d say anything, most of the time I don’t say anything back and just point at the scoreboard,” said Li, all 1.98m, 105kg of him.

“It’s actually pretty fun to get to prove people wrong or when they expect me to not really do anything. Then I showcase my game. Sometimes they start talking trash and I’d get my stuff going and dominate the game. That’s pretty fun sometimes.”

Li regularly seeks advice – be it basketball or identity related, or both – from hero-turned-friend Jeremy Lin, the Taiwanese-American who famously graced the NBA with the “Linsanity” era of 2012. That he is now exchanging texts with the man he watched on TV is another “pinch me” moment in his fledgling career so far.

“I definitely want to shout out Jeremy Lin,” said Li, who he featured alongside on a Chinese basketball TV show in 2019.

“This year, he gave me his number and offered me an outlet to ask questions if I’m struggling or need any advice. I look up to him like a bigger bro. That’s kind of surreal to me because he was my role model.”

“When I first met him, I told him I was just trying to get scholarships and play division one basketball so my parents wouldn’t need to pay a cent for me at university. I think that’s where it kicked off because he could relate to me and had to go through a lot of things. He’s even been kind enough to offer to get a workout in together. That’s surreal. That person you watched, that got you into the sport I’m in now. Now I can just to talk to him. It’s just crazy.”

No racial slur is justifiable, but the ignorance may be partly to do with the lack of Asian faces in the game. That applies throughout all age groups, from little leagues to the NBA, where you could count the number of Asian players on your fingers.

Li’s athletic talent had grown to the point that he would need to head south from his native Canada. The path to a division one scholarship offer was meticulously planned and it was only a matter of time before calls came flooding in.

“I had to do what was best for me and expose myself to more schools and coaches. When I got to Virginia, my coach started calling schools in to come watch. Over time, my stock grew and my coach even told me that people were calling asking ‘is the big Asian guy still available? Can I come watch him work out?’” he said.

“I do this for the younger generation looking for knowledge from anyone in my situation. They’ll read this as the next Asian guy who wants to play division one basketball. My goal on top of playing in the NBA and the national team is to inspire the next generation of Asians to break out of their comfort zones.”

“I feel like there’s a stigma that we’re less than other people in a sport just because of the colour of our skin – and I think that’s kind of bulls***. If you just put in the work and screw what other people think, you can go wherever you want to go in your sport. I don’t want other people thinking they can’t get past something if they’re Asian.”

Source: South China Morning Post

‘I Still Believe In Our City’ – Artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s Public Art Series Takes On Anti-Asian Racism In Brooklyn Subway Station

On Tuesday, New Yorkers commuting through the Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center subway station will find it transformed with vibrant portraits of Black, Asian and Pacific Islander people along with anti-discriminatory messages like “I did not make you sick” and “I am not your scapegoat.”

The series is the work of the neuroscientist turned artist Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya (pronounced PING-bodee-bak-ee-ah). In August, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya was named a New York City Public Artist in Residence through a program that has partnered artists with city agencies since 2015. She is one of two artists currently embedded with the city’s Commission on Human Rights, which invested $220,000 in this campaign.

Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya’s “I Still Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic. From February to September, the Commission received more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country.

“My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful,” Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said in a phone interview. She added, “I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.”

From Nov. 3 to Dec. 2, the series of 45 pieces will be displayed in the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, a central hub that serves a diverse group of commuting New Yorkers. Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said that it was also the site of a reported, Covid-related bias incident in March, when a 26-year-old Asian-American man reported he was spat on.

A description of that incident has been included in one of the pieces, alongside portraits of Asians and flowers that Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya said have symbolic meanings in Chinese and East Asian cultures. Other panels offer information and historical context about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and statistics about Asian-owned businesses.

Source: NY Times

Mississippi Approves New Flag Design – Had Been The Last State In The Country To Feature An Image Of The Confederate Battle Flag

The new design, which includes a magnolia blossom, was selected by a state commission in September to be put on the November ballot. The final decision came down to the magnolia image and the “Great River Flag,” which featured a shield with white and red stripes and a symbol representing the Mississippi River.

The flag featuring Confederate imagery was officially retired in June after protests against racial injustice and police brutality led numerous states to reckon with the history behind such symbols.

“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” Rocky Vaughan, designer of the magnolia flag, said in a statement in September.

“The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi. Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State,” he added.

Source: The Hill

CNN Reporter Amara Walker Endures Three Anti-Asian Racist Encounters Within An Hour At Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport

Throughout the U.S. presidential campaign, Donald Trump has been deflecting criticism of his handling of COVID-19 by blaming China.

But the relentless linking of the pandemic to China has had negative consequences for Asian Americans, including CNN correspondent Amara Walker.

She recently described experiencing three anti-Asian racist incidents within an hour while traveling through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

Following these events, Walker described what happened in a lengthy Twitter thread.

Amara Walker was trying to catch a flight back home when “a man of color” suddenly approached her and said, “Ni Hao. Ching Chong,” according to her Twitter and Instagram posts last Thursday.

The journalist confronted the man about his actions earlier, but he denied the incident and walked away.

Minutes after her first encounter, while Walker was explaining to her producer what happened, a young man without a mask approached them and asked her if she spoke English.

The unnamed man mumbled incoherently and allegedly started throwing obscenities at Walker. At this point, her producer and the other people nearby demanded the man to leave her alone.

Walker’s producer called airport security, but the officer who arrived angrily denied that what the young man did was racist.

“That was not racist! Ok? Asking if she speaks English is not racist, ok? Do you understand me?” the officer allegedly said.

“Asian Americans across the country deal with this on a regular basis and we’re not talking about it,” she said. “Many Asian Americans don’t raise our voices, including myself. I’ve probably wouldn’t have written about this if this wasn’t so egregious.”

Source: NextShark, Straight

Brown County High School (Nashville, Indiana) lists student as ‘BLACK GUY’ in yearbook caption under boys basketball team

An investigation is underway at an Indiana high school after a photo caption in the school’s 2020 yearbook listed a student on the boys basketball team as “BLACK GUY” instead of by his name.

After images of the photo in the Brown County High School yearbook were posted to social media Monday, the superintendent apologized that evening in a Facebook Live video.

“It has been brought to our attention that that yearbook has a truly incomprehensible statement included in it,” the superintendent, Laura Hammack, said, adding that officials were “trying to better understand what that situation is all about.”

Hammack declined a request for an interview Thursday and referred NBC News to a statement she and Brown County High School principal, Matthew Stark, released Monday.

Brown County High School is a public school in Nashville, roughly 50 miles south of Indianapolis. There were 577 students enrolled in the 2019-20 school year, the majority of whom — 92.2 percent — are white, according to state data.

Source: Yahoo

President Donald Trump’s Lawyer and Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani Accidentally Uploads Video of Himself Mocking Asian Accents

Rudy Giuliani accidentally uploaded a video of himself to YouTube on Wednesday night, in which President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer is seen to mock Asians in a racist manner.

The former mayor of New York City and President Donald Trump’s current personal lawyer put on a stereotypical Asian accent while bowing with his hands clasped together and talking about ordering Chinese food in the video.

An extended version of the video was set to private but not before clips made rounds on social media.

Source: NextShark

Yelp Will Label Businesses Accused Of Racist Behavior

In what the company calls a “firm stance against racism,” the review site Yelp will warn consumers when a business has been reported for racist behavior.

The company said it would only add this alert to a business page “when there’s resounding evidence of egregious, racist actions from a business owner or employee.”

This will include behavior such as “using overtly racist slurs or symbols.”

“As the nation reckons with issues of systemic racism, we’ve seen in the last few months that there is a clear need to warn consumers about businesses associated with egregious, racially-charged actions to help people make more informed spending decisions,” the San Francisco-based company said in a Thursday statement.

On social media, the announcement prompted some praise, but also skepticism from users who questioned how the initiative would be enforced.

The company said the alert will require a news article from a “credible media outlet.” A link to the article will accompany the notice, and it will appear over the reviews until dismissed.

Source: NPR

US Marine Jarrett Morford of Windsor Colorado Investigated After Making Racist Threats to Shoot Chinese People

A Marine who posted a video online in which he uses slurs against Chinese people and threatens to shoot them when he deploys with the fleet is now under investigation, the Marine Corps said Thursday.

Capt. Joseph Butterfield, a Marine Corps spokesman, identified the Marine in the video as Pfc. Jarrett Morford, 20, and said Morford’s command is taking “appropriate action.”

Morford, who is from Windsor, Colo., is now training for a communications job at Twentynine Palms, Calif. He graduated boot camp in August.

“There is no place for racism in the Marine Corps. Those who can’t value the contributions of others, regardless of background, are destructive to our culture and do not represent our core values,” Butterfield said.

“As the honorable Trump said today on Twitter, it was China’s fault,” Morford said in the video. “China is going to pay for what they have done to this country and the world.”

It was not clear Thursday which tweet Morford was referencing. President Donald Trump frequently tweets about China, blaming them for the coronavirus pandemic, which he has called “the China virus.”

It was also unclear Thursday when or where the video originally was posted. But it went viral Thursday on Twitter and Instagram.

The video also included profanity and referenced the caliber of bullet used for the M4 and the M16, the standard rifles issued to Marines.

“I don’t give a f*ck! A chink-headed motherf*cker comes up to me when I’m in the fleet, say 5-5-6 b*tch. That’s all I gotta say,” Morford said. “Say 5-5-f*cking-6!”

Source: Stars And Stripes

Japanese Pianist Tadataka Unno Badly Injured After Attack In New York Subway – Thought To Be Chinese

A well known musician has been badly injured after being attacked near his home in Harlem.

Now the community has come together to support him.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reports, New York-based Japanese musician Tadataka Unno is a beloved member of the local jazz community. The 40-year-old is a renowned pianist and composer.

“He really took hold of jazz culture and embodied it,” said Jerome Jennings, an instructor at the Julliard School, and a good friend of Unno’s. “He’s played in bands with Roy Hargrove and great Jimmy Cobb.”

Jennings says Unno is now suffering mentally and physically after being attacked unexpectedly.

It happened on Sept. 27 around 7:30 p.m. Jennings says Unnon was exiting the subway station at West 135th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue when several young people were blocking the turnstiles. Unno attempted to walk around the group, but was yelled at and pushed from behind, eventually punched in the face and body.

“He got up, tried to run, fell again, got back up, tried to run, fell again,” Jennings said.

Jennings says Unno’s wife says there were racial slurs yelled in the process.

“He did hear the word ‘Chinese’ and ‘Asian,’” Jennings said.

Police say no anti-Asian remarks were indicated in the report but the investigation is ongoing. No arrests have been made.

Source: CBS New York