Dear Little Falls…and Ron….

UPDATE #2!

#unitecloud leadership will not be attending Ron’s talk tonight in Little Falls after all.

We have talked to many people in the Little Falls area about the tension that exists and some of the things that Somalis/Muslims/people of color experience in that area. We are concerned that our presence at this meeting would make an already bad situation worse, especially for the newest Somali family in the area.

Instead, we will continue to talk with parents, teachers, and residents of that area and will be meeting with some of them to talk about what type of community intervention may work best to reduce tensions. If you live around the Little Falls area and would like to be a part of a discussion like this, please let us know by e-mailing Natalie at natalie@unitecloud.org.

Side note: We have heard that there will be a vigil held outside Ron’s talk tonight of folks from the area that will be standing in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors. This group has told us that anyone is welcome to join them. They will be meeting in the Coborns Liquor parking lot around 6pm. 

Thank you for all of the support and encouragement we have gotten from around Central MN this week! We so appreciate it!

 

UPDATE #1!

Haji and Natalie and other members of #unitecloud and folks from the St. Cloud area, along with people in Little Falls and the Brainerd area, will be attending Ron’s talk this Friday to stand in solidarity against the harassment that our Muslim neighbors are experiencing in the Little Falls area. Won’t you join us?

When and where: Friday, April 29th, 6:30pm, Little Falls Ballroom (15870 MN-27, Little Falls, MN 56345)

If you don’t want to arrive at this meeting alone, some people are gathering in the Coborns Liquor parking lot in Little Falls at 6pm to drive over together.

Shout out to Wayne, a #unitecloud supporter who invited people to come with him to the meeting in this way:

“Hate and intolerance should never have a monopoly on speech in our communities. A commitment to be there to stand in solidarity against his message is a good place to start. Anyone else reading this, feel free to come with us. Together, our voices are many. Real action and real people with real voices in real places are the only things that change things.” 

We are calling on anyone that is free to come with us to this meeting. The only qualification is that you are able to be calm and level-headed in the face of hatred. While we have not experienced hatred from Ron himself at his talks we have been to in the past, people that attend his talks can be very cruel.

1463155_1280980981931189_5911605074240650495_nThere usually is a time for questions at his talk so it will be interesting to see how the open dialogue portion goes. However, you do not have to be willing to ask questions to attend his talk. We will be there in our #unitecloud T-shirts ($20 adults, $15 students) and bracelets ($1), and will bring extra along for anyone to purchase. Simply sitting in a meeting like this, wearing your solidarity, is an amazing act of courage, and we thank anyone who is willing to come out to Little Falls with us.

Please message Natalie at natalie@unitecloud.org with any questions.

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Ron Branstner, St. Cloud based anti-refugee, anti-Muslim speaker is speaking this Friday in Little Falls. Read on to see the letter #unitecloud sent to him this morning.

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Ron, Natalie and Haji hearing the governor speak at St. Ben’s.

Hi Ron. I hear you are speaking in Little Falls this Friday.

#unitecloud has been approached by folks in Little Falls in the past couple of months because  of the misinformed rhetoric they hear in public and in private about their Somali/Muslim neighbors.

Recently, a Somali family enrolled their kids in the Little Falls school district. Somehow, that was “news” that actually got written about in the Morrison Country Record. According to that article, some people were in such an uproar that the superintendent went on local radio to field calls from folks about their concerns.

Have we transported back to the 1950’s when it was news that a family that looks different moves to town? We have freedom of religion in this country. Every child has a right to public school and every family has a right to move wherever they want.

Ron, I’ve seen you stand up for Haji before at one of your meetings. You and I have been at many events together and have talked regularly. Please be aware that, this Friday, you are walking into a dangerous situation. The tension in Little Falls is so high right now. Am I worried that you are going to do something rash? No. Am I concerned that someone coming to your talk may do something rash? Yes.

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Think about the ripple effect of your talk. A Little Falls parent comes to your talk. They talk about your talk in front of their kids. Their kids go to school and bully their new Somali classmate. This is not a far-fetched idea, as it happens in this area on a regular basis.

Is your talk the cause of these issues? No. Does your talk fan the flames of extreme fear that are raging right now in Little Falls? Yes.

As the Bluestem Prairie article puts it, “At this point, we suspect that Minnesota’s anti-refugee folks enjoy the emotional rush they get as they expose and fondle their fears, sharing that emotional flooding with their like-minded neighbors.”

The people of Little Falls that fear their Muslim neighbors are coming to your talk, not to learn anything new, rather, to confirm their fears. What the people of Little Falls should be doing is lining up to meet their new neighbors, not you, Ron. They could bring their new neighbors some cookies. A plant. Some brownies. Not a bag full of fear laced with extreme bias.

Please take all this into consideration as you speak on Friday. Thank you.

About the Author

Natalie Ringsmuth

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Natalie grew up in Central Minnesota and received her Music Education degree from Concordia College in Moorhead. She taught middle school choir in Georgia and worked in the church sector for over a decade. She now works as a legal assistant at Tripiciano Immigration Law, a trainer with the CARE (Community Anti-Racism Education) Team at SCSU (St Cloud State University), and as Founder and Director of #unitecloud, a non-profit working to reduce racial, religious, and cultural tensions in Central MN. She is a member of the Community Impact Team at United Way of Central MN and is a member of the St Cloud District 742 school board. In her spare time (haha) she loves to spend time with her husband and 3 children.