Group calls for hate crime probe after Fargo man's car vandalized with feces
FARGO -- Yussuf Mohamed, a U.S. citizen from Somalia, left his south Fargo apartment about 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, to go out to dinner. But when he opened the car door of his 2003 Toyota Corolla, he was immediately struck by an overpowering s...
FARGO - Yussuf Mohamed, a U.S. citizen from Somalia, left his south Fargo apartment about 6 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 18, to go out to dinner. But when he opened the car door of his 2003 Toyota Corolla, he was immediately struck by an overpowering stench.
He turned on his cellphone flashlight, looked around the car and discovered that what he believes is animal feces had been smeared all over the seats, on the dashboard and throughout the car.
"It's everywhere," he said. "It's very, very stinky."
Mohamed called Fargo police, who filed a report for unlawful entry and criminal mischief to a motor vehicle. He told them he suspected a neighbor in his apartment building is responsible because the man insulted him last week because of his race and religion. Mohamed is Muslim. Police interviewed the man, but would not release any other details about the incident.
On Tuesday, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on local, state and federal authorities to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The incident was also condemned by two local organizations, North Dakota United Against Hate and the Afro American Development Association.
"It's terrible to see such things happening in Fargo - it's not the first time," said Hukun Abdullahi, cofounder of North Dakota United Against Hate and executive director of the Afro American Development Association. "It's not acceptable. It has to end. That is why we need to have hate crime legislation in North Dakota and a hate crime ordinance in Fargo."
Fargo police would not disclose whether they are investigating the incident as a hate crime, but a police spokeswoman, Jessica Schindeldecker, said the department's cultural liaison officer, Vince Kempf, is "following up on the incident."
Mohamed, 51, who immigrated from Somalia in 1996 and moved to Fargo two years later, has lived in Maplewood Apartments at 1010 23rd St. S. for seven years and said he never had any problems with any of his neighbors until last week.
He said he was accosted in the apartment parking lot on Tuesday, Sept. 12, by a man who moved into the building recently and lives two doors down from him on the third floor of the building.
"He said, 'Get out of here, you don't belong here,'" Mohamed said. "He even mentioned my religion. I told him, 'Don't insult me. I live here. I belong here. I'm not going to talk to you.'" He got in his car and drove away.
Mohamed has noticed a change in attitude toward immigrants, particularly Muslims, in Fargo in recent months, and the change scares him. In one high-profile incident in July, a Mapleton woman was filmed threatening to kill three Somali women in a Walmart parking lot in Fargo.
"I see a lot of hate," Mohamed said. "We've got to stop this type of hate. We are human beings. We can't do this to each other. The government has to do something."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, based in Washington, D.C., said there has been "an unprecedented increase in hate incidents targeting American Muslims" since Donald Trump was elected president.
Mohamed's car was rendered unusable by the vandalism, and he cannot afford to get it cleaned. He survives on disability income after an accident suffered while working at a laundry in 2011 injured his shoulder and made it impossible for him to work. He said he only has liability insurance on his car, which doesn't cover vandalism.
"I can't drive the car," he said. "There's nothing I can do."