February 23, 2019
Dear Representatives and Senators,
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter in support of expanding regional office capacity for the MN Department of Human Rights.
Here in St. Cloud, we are working hard to resolve cultural, religious, and racial tensions which are making it hard for everyone in Central MN to survive and thrive. From hate crimes like a cab driver being choked while driving, simply for his assumed religion (Muslim), to everyday occurrences of public harassment like this story of a pick-up truck attempting to run down a Somali elder and many, many more stories happening time after time after time, we are in the thick of the fight for human rights here in our area.
One of our main partners in this fight has been the staff at the St Cloud Regional Human Rights office. From community meetings, to one on ones, to emails back and forth, to conference calls with staff at the main MDHR office, we are working together to bring sustainable solutions to the horrific problem of harassment and bias in Central MN. Before we had Heidi Hovis and Jonathan Wong working locally on the issue of Human Rights, community advocates like us felt alone and on an island, not sure at times how to go about solving issues we were faced with in our community.
We are imploring you to support Governor Walz’s budget which includes increased funding for regional MDHR offices, as well as increasing local and state-wide capacity for civic engagement through the MDHR office. With the reality of disparities across all areas of life for our neighbors of color in MN, truly there should be no hesitation on your part to fully fund this ask. After all, as Paul Wellstone once said, “We all do better when we all do better.”
Click this link (MDHR_Transformational Budget_Final_2.18.19) for a summary document regarding the need to expand MDHR’s work across our state. If you want to take a deeper dive, MDHR’s full budget proposal is available here.