A video of Somali youth harassing a gay man captured last week at the Twin Cities Pride Festival has garnered a lot of attention, spurred debate and spawned numerous press releases. Video author Justin Grey Day and the victim, Adam Schreifels, released videos responding to the debate over the incident. Politicians have denounced bias crimes against LGBT people, Minneapolis police say they would have stopped the incident had they been in the area, and some members of the LGBT community say the actions of the youth involved should not lead to more oppression — namely racism.
To raise awareness of anti-gay bias, members of the LGBT community are planning a “Big Gay Kiss on the Mall” on July 23. The kiss-in by same-sex couples at Peavey Plaza is a direct response to the harassment seen in the video, according to organizers.
Gubernatorial candidate and former Sen. Mark Dayton denounced the youths’ actions and promised that dealing with harassment would be part of his campaign:
A recent YouTube video shows a group of youths harassing a gay man at last Sunday’s Pride parade. I deplore their immoral and illegal actions. It is also extremely disturbing that the video shows a security officer walking by the harassment and doing nothing to stop it.
There is no place in Minnesota for that kind of immoral and illegal behavior. If I become Governor, I pledge to do everything within my power to stop it.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said that the uniformed individuals in the video were not Minneapolis officers.
Currently, there is a video on YouTube of an incident that occurred sometime during the Minneapolis Gay Pride Festival. There has been some speculation that Minneapolis Police Officers were in that video. The Minneapolis Police Department wants to assure the public that those security officers who casually walk by during this incident were not from our department. We have a strict uniform policy and those were not our uniforms or our police officers. This is unacceptable behavior that would not be tolerated by the Minneapolis Police. Action would have been taken immediately to stop the harassment that is depicted in the video.
OutFront Minnesota said that the incident should not be an excuse for anger at people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds:
A video appearing on YouTube depicts verbal harassment of Twin Cities Pride attendees by a small group of young people. OutFront Minnesota decries all hate- or bias-motivated violence and harassment, regardless of who is targeted; we are glad the targets were not physically harmed. This particular incident adds a level of controversy because the perpetrators and targets appear to be of different racial backgrounds. As we have seen in the wake of the Prop. 8 vote in California, racism exists within the GLBT community and can rise to the surface at difficult times. It’s critical to remember that judging a person’s actions is different from judging their presumed background. OutFront Minnesota remains committed to helping address racism within the GLBT community, and to being a strong advocate for GLBT community members from ALL racial or ethnic backgrounds.
Omar Jamal of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center told FOX 9 News that some in the Somali community think Schreifels set the boys up: “Some of the community believe this is a frame-up where the gay guy provoked the Somali boys while his friend video taped them.”
Schreifels sent a letter to Jamal clarifying what happened:
I am insulted by your response, and by those in your community who would imply the ridiculous possibility that this was a frame-up. It does nothing to gain favor of a community that has represented themselves poorly to the gay community already. We haven’t forgotten the gays being kicked out of cabs by Somali cab drivers. Furthermore, it shifts the responsibility for this behavior onto me and my friend, rather than on the ignorant teenagers who were shouting these hateful words, which were most likely learned by their parents, or religious leaders. This is unacceptable. The notion that somehow they may have been provoked or framed needs to be put to rest immediately.
Demanding these kids be held accountable would send a sign that your words of condemnation are not merely words, but a sign of intolerance for this kind of behavior. Anything less than this response simply sends the message that the actions of these young boys are acceptable in your eyes.
Schreifels released this video over the weekend responding to the debate caused by the harassment:
Justin Grey Day, the video’s author, also called for calm in response to racist sentiments emerging in the aftermath:
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