FARGO – An assault here on a Somali-American the morning of Sunday, July, 2, is being called a “possible hate crime” by a Muslim civil rights group in Minnesota.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations on Monday, July 3, urged state and federal law enforcement officials to investigate, citing a report that one of the alleged assailants used the N-word.

According to police, James Patrick Billiot, 32, Fargo, and Justin William Rifanburg, 28, West Fargo, assaulted Shuib Ali, who was moving into an apartment with two friends. CAIR described them as Somali-Americans.

One of the friends, Ahmed Ali, said he was there when Shuib Ali was attacked and heard Billiot and Rifanburg yell, “What are these n---- doing here?”

The victim and his friends were able to run to safety in the apartment building. Police arrested Billiot and Rifanburg, who matched descriptions by the Somali-Americans, as they walked a few blocks away. They claimed they were not involved in a fight.

The alleged assailants have been charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor. Of the two, Billiot has a history of violence, having pleaded guilty to domestic violence in 2015.

The Forum sought comment from the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office but hadn’t heard back as of the end of Monday.

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