Bloomington mosque bomber sentenced to 53 years in prison.

By: Citlaly Castillo-Thoren

Image taken from: Levenson, Michael. “Militia Leader Is Convicted in Bombing of a Minnesota Mosque.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/09/us/minnesota-militia-mosque-bombing.html.

The person who bombed the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in 2017 has now been charged in federal court. According to the Department of Justice, the charges where: “Intentionally defacing, damaging and destroying religious property because of the religious character of that property, intentionally obstructing and attempting to obstruct, by force and the threat of force, the free exercise of religious beliefs, conspiracy to commit federal felonies by means of fire and explosives, carrying and using a destructive device during and in relation to crimes of violence, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.”

The suspect was initially charged under the name Michel Hari, but they have since came out as transgender and her name is now Emily Clair Hari.

She was the leader of an anti-government militia from Illinois called the “White Rabbits”. She drove from Clarence, Illinois, to the mosque in Bloomington, Minnesota, in a rented pickup truck. She had strong anti Muslim beliefs and she attacked the mosque so the Muslims would feel like they’re not wanted in America.

Also, her federal defender is trying to say the attack was because of gender euphoria which caused her to have inner conflicts controlling her actions.

Emily was brought to trial and convicted as a man.

She arrived in Bloomington early on the morning of August 5, 2017, and went to the mosque and threw a pipe bomb through a window where it exploded. There were people praying in a room a couple rooms down. 12 people were hurt but there were no fatalities. On one of the days of the trial, they had the people affected by the bombing give testimony about how it affected them. 

Emily Claire Hari did not plead guilty, but was found guilty and sentenced to 53 years in prison.

Killing of Daunte Wright

On April 11, 2021, a 20-year-old African American man, Daunte Wright, was fatally shot by police officer Kimberly Potter during a traffic stop. Officer Potter has worked at the Brooklyn Center Police for 26 years. 

This incident happened just miles away from where Derek Chauvin was on trial for the murder of George Floyd, another African American that died at the hands of a policeman. 

Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation, but when he tried to get back into his car, there was a struggle, after the officers had attempted to handcuff him on the side of the road. 

In the body camera video that was released by Chief Gannon, an officer was heard saying: “Taser, Taser, Taser”, then Wright was seen getting into his car while the same officer says: “Holy s***, I just shot him”.

Wounded by the cop, Wright crashed a few streets away. Chief Gannon shared that officer Potter meant to use a Taser but mistakenly drew her gun instead. 

On the Tuesday after the shooting, officer Potter resigned saying, “I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign.”

A day after her resignation she was arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. She was released, after posting a $100,000 bond. If she is convicted, she could spend 10 years in prison.

Protesters took to the streets in the days after, and demanded justice. Monday morning, the Brooklyn Center mayor announced a curfew from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m, asking protesters to “Be safe and to go home”.

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Helping small businesses

During these times, there are a lot of people struggling. There are many ways that we can help these people who need us. Small businesses are having some troubles with maintaining pay and keeping up with rent. So, here are some good ways to help these small businesses. 

There are certain small business owners who have made gift receipts or gift cards available to keep buyers coming. Some other places are making gift baskets or bags to carry out to cars. This is a great way for business owners to keep transactions moving and a great way for us to get ahead on birthday and holiday gifts! 

A nice way to help out is to offer volunteering if you can risk working outside of your home. There are a few places that are offering carry out jobs. Just make sure, that if you decide to do this, that none of the people you’re around have pre-existing conditions or have a low immune system. 

Another nice way to help out a local shop is to leave a positive review on Yelp and on Google Location review spots. On March 24th, Yelp made a collaboration with GoFundMe so you can leave a good review and send some cash to your local businesses at the same time. 

You can tell your friends and family about how you are trying to assist a small business so they can help out too! Finding ways to post online, or even writing a suggestion in chalk outside, can really make the difference. You never know who might be looking to help too! 

The last thing you can do is a very good and easy way to just spread positivity and hope. You can find the address of your local place and send them a nice card or something to say thanks. Kindness can really go a long way. 

During these hard times we all need any help we can safely get, so make sure there are no negative vibes!

Stay hopeful, stay safe, stay positive! It will be okay!

Businesses staying open during COVID-19 quarantine

From staying cautious, to a full quarantine shutdown, the coronavirus has affected many things as it has escalated quickly. Recently, nonessential stores were closed to slow the curve of its spread. But as many stores fight to stay open and argue to be an essential, what remains open during this time? 

One place that has to stay open is, of course, grocery stores and places that carry items that people need to replenish frequently as an important, or essential item. That includes large companies like Target, Walmart, Costco, and Cub Foods, as well as some smaller businesses like Lunds and Byerlys.

Fortunately, they have remained cautious and found ways to keep a six foot distance between customer and employees sometimes by using certain markers to stand on or even plexiglass divides.

Pet stores are also deemed necessary as they carry food for animals and pets that people own. From the standard dog food, available at any stores that carries groceries, to feeder insects for more unique animals, like reptiles. 

First responders are also expected to remain present at their jobs. These jobs include police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and other trained members of important organizations. Though they have taken precautions and provided masks to some workers, a few first responders have become the patients after being tested and quarantined for coronavirus. 

As for restaurants and fast food places, many have stayed open and found ways to work around the suggested guidelines, or distances, of the coronavirus. Many places have limited the number of people allowed inside a store at one time or even switched to delivery or drive thus. But this raises the question, do places like Dairy Queen or Starbucks “need” to be open?

There are still many flaws that stem from stores being closed depending on how important they are. Many different businesses have argued and manipulated the system to remain open. Some of these places include Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Joann Fabrics, and many more. Though it may seem pointless to keep them open from an outsider’s view, businesses risk closing because of the lack of human traffic and income. This also means that many employees would be laid off, making it especially difficult for those who live paycheck to paycheck. 

But, as many companies lose business, Amazon and online shops become the safer and better option for many people. Though it may seem like a good idea, be careful how dependent you are when ordering from these sites as deliveries have become significantly slower to arrive as people turn to this no contact, quarantine friendly, way of buying goods. 

Copper-nickel mining in the BWCA

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is a one million acre wilderness area in northeast Minnesota that is protected by the state. It has hundreds of lakes connected by rivers and streams. Recently a bill has been proposed to ban copper-nickel mining in a huge area of federal land bordering the BWCA.

Mining is a big part of the economy in northeast Minnesota. There have been iron ore mines open in the area for over a century and people there are getting frustrated. They believe the proposed bill will interfere with their way of life. According to Steve Giorgi, the director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools says the area needs more high-paying mining jobs rather than the outdoor tourism jobs that have been increasing. He also claims that the vast deposits of copper and nickel could bring another economic heyday to the region.

The proposed bill would  permanently ban copper-nickel mining in 365 square mile of land surrounding the BWCA. This is being proposed because the mining threatens the delicate ecosystem and will pollute hundreds of surrounding lakes with highly sulfuric chemicals. There has never been a copper-nickel mine that hasn’t polluted surrounding waterways but the mining companies have proposed a way to treat the water so it won’t permanently harm the ecosystem. The problem with this plan is that it is very expensive and would take 500 years after the mine closes to treat all the water. 

The BWCA is not only valued by Minnesotans; people from all around the world come to see the pristine waters and the beautiful wildlife. Jason Zabokrtsky, the owner of Ely Outfitting Company said he saw people from 48 states and 13 countries going into the BWCA. 

In 2016 Obama launched a study on the environmental effects of copper-nickel mining but in 2018 Trump shut it down four months before it was finished and renewed the mining companies’ leases which gives them the right to explore and eventually mine in the area.

Copper-nickel mining has pros and cons. It can bring jobs and money to northeastern Minnesota but it also has the potential to wreck a fragile and valuable ecosystem. 

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Homicides in St. Paul

In the city of St. Paul, there have been 28 homicides in only one year. This is the most homicides in a decade. The two shooters on Sunday evening, November 10th, brought the tally up by 2. During the month of September, there were only 9 shootings. 

The mayor of St. Paul has had enough and called a public meeting to discuss public safety.

Recently, there has been a shooting that happened the 2nd week of November, on Maryland Ave and Hazelwood St. A person was shot and it was reported at around 5pm. When the police came to the scene, one of the men was dead and the other one was injured badly, 

Another shooting happened in the Highland neighborhood, which is St. Paul’s 27th case. A man was shot in a car and the woman with him was injured as well. It happened on a Friday morning and is being investigated immediately.

There were 2 shootings that happened this past Wednesday, November 6th. The first one involved a senior football player from Henry Sibley. The second one was a gas station situation that involved a U.S Marshal.

The first guy, Da’Qwan Jones-Morris, was accidentally shot by his friend and one person said that it didn’t look like they were fighting. The police were questioning people but there were no arrests made.

The second one happened on 7th St and Kittson St when a U.S. Marshall shot an armed man who was trying to kill a car full of people. 

The Star Tribune recorded another recent shooting that just happened this past weekend as well, which is St. Paul’s 30th shooting. This happened on Rice St and Wayzata St at around 5pm. 

The city of St. Paul is planning on having a meeting to talk about the shootings and the violence. If this continues it may beat the 1992 record which saw 34 shootings.

5-year-old child thrown from the third floor at Mall Of America

On Friday, April 13, a 5-year-old boy named Landon was thrown off of the 3rd floor at Mall of America. The Bloomington police got reports at 10:17 a.m. that a young child had fallen about 40 feet from the third floor balcony and had landed on the first floor. Witnesses recall seeing a woman screaming for help on the third floor, which was his mother. The child was was lying face up in between an escalator and the Michael Kors store on the first floor. The 5-year-old boy suffered life threatening injuries and has been hospitalized. According to Fox9, witnesses on the first floor described seeing the boy on his back, not breathing and fully unconscious.

A family friend set up the GoFundMe page that will help the family cover the medical costs including many surgeries. The GoFundMe has since raised $400,000.

According to NBC News, the suspect of this attack has been named a 24-year-old man from Minneapolis: Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda. He was immediately arrested after the attack and has been in custody on a suspicion of an attempted murder charge. The suspect has been banned from the mall, in the past, on misdemeanor charges. He was arrested at the Mall of America in 2015 after he threw items from the 3rd floor at the mall and broke many items at stores nearby. He has since then told police after his arrest, for throwing the child, that his motive and plan was that he had been looking for someone to kill on April 13.

According to CNN, the 5-year-old boy had been improving. Doctors said they found no brain damage and not even any swelling or nerve damage. They referred to his injured as something more like a child falling off a bike rather than falling 40 feet in the air.

The boy has suffered a good amount of broken bones and bleeding internally, but he has since been making great improvements.

Minnesota weather

There has been fridge weather in the Midwest, specifically in Minnesota, during the past month. The wind chill temperature in the Midwest has reached around -30. The negative weather began around the week of January 28 and extended through February 1. The arctic cold has resulted in many with no homes to freeze to death in Chicago. According to NBC Chicago, 19 people have died in the blistering cold, many of whom were homeless.

There were closings of hundreds of schools across districts for days across the Midwest. Here in Minnesota, governor Tim Walz is not going to penalize school districts in the state by adding more school days to compensate for the school days lost, the week of January 28, during the fridge below zero temperatures. The cold broke records in many cities and states that week. According to Fox 9 News, it became the lowest temperatures recorded in Minnesota since 1994.

Although the governor of Minnesota decided to not add school days at the end of the school year, I asked some students around how they felt about school days being added. It has been a big topic for quite a while, especially since a few years ago, more school days were added at the end of the school year due to having too many snow days.

Tovi Yangh: Honestly I would rather have schools added at the end of the year if it is needed. I’d rather go to school when it’s warm than suffer in the cold walking to school or having to carry my jacket around because it’s too cold. Other than that, I don’t really mind with whatever that happens. If school days are added then I’ll go since I have to.

Emily St. Clair: I would hate it if school days were added. I don’t want to go to school in the summer especially since we don’t have air conditioner. No one would want to show up and be surrounded by a lot of students when it’s hot.

Vahue Thao: I think that adding days would be unfair because it wasn’t really our fault that we had snow days. Also, I think that kids won’t show up because maybe their families have already made plans for it already.

Dayna Baty: Honestly, it doesn’t really affect me but I think that school days shouldn’t be added no matter how many snow days there are. Personally, I’ve used those snow days to catch up on school work and I think they’re really helpful with just catching up on school.

I also interviewed many others who had the same views. Overall, students want their summer break to start early with no school days added. Many others also have stated that they are thankful that SPPS is doing a better job at calling snow days and early releases than they did a few years back.

Hopefully, next winter will be less dangerous, not just for students, but for everyone else.

Ice rink is coming to the Mall of America this holiday season

On December 8, 2018, an ice rink will open at the Mall of America, and it will be free to the public. It is a custom built ice rink, and it is a 12,000-square-foot oval rink. This ice skate rink will be called “Skate the Stars” and it will be located near the Bloomington shopping mecca’s north entrance. The rink is being presented by UCare, and will be around for those planning on making holiday returns.

In a press release, Jill Renslow, SVP of business Development at Mall of America said, “An ice rink has been an experience we have always wanted to bring to life for our guests who visit Mall of America during this cherished time of year, we want our guests to experience the unexpected when they visit each year, that is why adding this ice rink is such an exciting addition to our holiday line-up,’’ she added, ‘‘We look forward to seeing visitors from all over the world enjoy Skate the Star at Mall of America.”

If you plan on going you can bring your own skates, or you can rent skates for $5, with proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. Before skating, all skaters must complete waivers. Minors under the age of 18 must have a waiver signed by a parent or guardian.

The skate rink will be there until January 27, 2019, and from December 8-23, it will be open from 3 p.m to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday. It will open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and Sunday it will open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Starting Christmas eve, the hours will change onwards.

Images are posted on the Mall of America Facebook page, and it shows the rink as a circular track with a station in the middle.

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Minnesota elections

Tuesday’s midterm elections were a very surprising election in Minnesota, and many firsts were been made as many women took the lead.

Amy Klobuchar defeated Republican Jim Newberger by 625,614 votes and continues to add to her senate service of over 10 years. Tina Smith won against Karin Housley, and is Minnesota’s second senator, and won by 274,603 votes. The governor of Minnesota is now Tim Walz who defeated Republican Jeff Johnson by 295,261 votes.

Ilhan Omar beat Jennifer Zielinski by 193,258 votes, with most her votes coming from Hennepin County. She was the nation’s first Somali-American member of Congress and will be one of two Muslim women congresswoman. She was once a refugee and is headed to Washington D.C. She won Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.

Peggy Flanagan was the first Native American elected lieutenant governor, and was serving as a member of the House of Representatives since 2015.

Annie Craig became the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Minnesota, when she won the 2nd Congressional district by defeating Republican Jason Lewis.

In Hennepin county David Hutchinson will be the first openly gay sheriff in the Midwest.

Maria Regan Gonzalez will be the first Latina mayor in Richfield, and Kim Norton will be Rochester’s first woman mayor, also Jonathan Judd will be Moorhead’s first African American mayor.