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Delano vigil aims to show racism won’t be tolerated in the community

More than 100 people gathered outside Delano City Hall Sunday night to show that hate and racism won’t be tolerated in the community.

The candlelight vigil came after the Douglas family, some of whom are black, decided to move from their “dream home” after finding graffiti on their property that said “get out” and included racial slurs.

The vigil included speakers and attendees singing “This Little Light of Mine,” the Star Tribune says, and marked the kickoff of the city’s anti-racism campaign. Delano United aims to raise awareness of issues of inclusivity within the community, and to make sure the Douglas family – and others who don’t feel welcome – know the community stands with them and welcomes them, the city says.

“What we need to do is unify everybody together,” Delano Mayor Dale Graunke told the Star Tribune. “For all the people who are discriminated against, to say there’s help here for them and this is a safe place to be.”

No one has been arrested in connection with the graffiti incident, and despite the outpouring of support the Douglas family has decided to move to a place where they feel more welcome. A GoFundMe page set up to help the family pay for their moving expenses had raised $33,045 by Monday morning, exceeding the $25,000 goal.

There will also be a public meeting regarding an uptick in racist incidents over the past few months, the Delano Herald Journal reports. That meeting will happen at 6 p.m. on April 25 at Delano City Hall.

A rise in racist incidents

Advocacy groups such as the Anti-Defamation League have noted an increase in racist or violent incidents since the 2016 election, as well as an uptick in anti-Semitic reports.

And NBC News reports a new study (done by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino) found hate crimes rose 20 percent last year, across nine major metro areas. (Minnesota cities were not included in the list.) They attributed it specifically to the inflammatory presidential campaign.

The FBI tracks hate crimes, and it released its 2015 stats last fall, saying hate crimes rose from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 in 2015. It’s worth noting, though, that hate crimes reported in 2013 were slightly higher than 2015, with 5,928 reported crimes.

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