Racially Motivated Crime Raises Questions in Minnesota City | Minnesota News

By NORA G. HERTEL, St. Cloud Times

COLD SPRING, Minnesota (AP) – July. This is the first time the Cold Spring Police Department has reported a racially motivated crime in 2021, after a vehicle with a block of granite on the accelerator crashed into the home of a multiracial family.

The May 4 and 10 property damage allegedly involving the same suspect and the same family was not reported to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension because it was motivated by bias, a newspaper investigation revealed.

There were also no four other incidents between December 2020 and July 2021 that Andrea Robinson reported as hate crimes or bias crimes, said Robinson, whose home was targeted during this. accident of July 24. Although members of his family were inside the house at the time, no one was injured.

The July crash is the only bias-related crime reported by Cold Spring Police this year, according to records provided to the St. Cloud Times by the BCA. In 2020, only one incident was reported in Cold Spring to the BCA as motivated by bias. The 2020 incident has been listed as an assault on whites.

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Details of the 2020 assault were not immediately available from the Cold Spring Police Department. Chief Jason Blum did not immediately respond to an email or voicemail requesting comment, The Times reported.

A vehicle crashed into Andrea and Phil Robinson’s home on Saturday, July 24, 2021. The suspect has been charged with theft of the vehicle, criminal harassment, first degree property damage and breach of an order of non-communication.

Each month, the Minnesota Police Department must report any crime in which the officer has reason to believe, or if the victim alleges, that the offender was motivated to commit the act by race, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability of the victim. or characteristics identified as sexual orientation, ”according to state law.

This data is shared in the annual Minnesota Uniform Crime Report. It is used by lawmakers and other groups to identify trends in the state.

Advocates and DFLers have been pushing for the state’s hate crimes law to be amended this year in hopes of improving reporting of bias-related crimes and expanding the law to include victims targeted for their sex, gender identity or gender expression. The proposal was not passed, although many believe hate crimes are underreported in Minnesota.

“As a citizen, I do not have the capacity to report crimes motivated by bias against the state myself. I am frustrated that after repeated requests, local authorities still have not reported the majority of crimes as required by law, ”Robinson told the St. Cloud Times of alleged racial bias in crimes against her. family. “I am concerned that these crimes are not taken seriously and I wonder how many other cases have not been reported to the state.”

State law requires that the motivation for the bias be reported based on a victim’s allegation or an officer’s belief.

Stearns County Court files filed in August allege Benton Beyer, who is the white suspect in the crash, was motivated by bias against black men in a series of incidents, many involving the Robinson Crusoes.

Stearns County prosecutors initially charged Beyer with criminal harassment, violation of a restraining order, property damage and vehicle theft related to the July 24 crash. After further investigation and lobbying by the Robinson family and their supporters, the charges against Beyer were changed.

The new charges included earlier incidents – allegedly broken windows on two vehicles belonging to members of the Robinson family – and a new charge of criminal harassment and two charges of second degree assault related to racial bias. The bias factor could increase the sentence if Beyer is convicted, but this is only possible for assaults of the first to third degree.

All crimes, whether assault or property crimes or neither, are supposed to be reported to the state if there is a suspected reason for bias.

In 2020, for example, 223 incidents of bias were reported to the state by law enforcement, including 66 involving vandalism, 64 intimidation, 46 common assault, 34 aggravated assault, 13 “other theft. “Five thefts, four burglaries and one arson, according to the Minnesota Uniform Crime Report.

In mid-August, Beyer was also charged with two new counts of property damage for allegedly entering the vehicle of an unknown black man in a parking lot in St. Cloud in May. Court records cite racial prejudice as a suspected motivator.

Robinson says she reported six incidents to Cold Spring Police as racially motivated that did not appear in the BCA request. This includes any damage to the vehicle in May that has been billed. It also includes a case where Robinson’s husband Phil spent 20 minutes with his hands in the air surrounded by police officers after Beyer allegedly reported that a black man had threatened him. No charges resulted from this event.

“I don’t want our trip to be just a story of what went wrong and all the systems that failed us. It’s an opportunity to create change, to assess past practices and to recognize things that haven’t gone well, ”said Robinson. “We have the ability to see beyond our differences and become a stronger community – a community that values ​​and embraces differences. “

Copyright 2021 Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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