MN Muslim group calling for hate crime charge after man accused of throwing a pig's foot at Somali-American
WILLMAR, Minn. — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations wants a Willmar man charged with a hate crime after an incident at a farmer's market last weekend.
Willmar police were called to the farmer's market about 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, on a report that an individual had allegedly been cursing at a young adult male Somali-American selling vegetables at a stand.
According to law enforcement reports, he then threw a pig's foot at the Somali.
The Willmar Police Department identified the man as Joseph Fernkes, 61, of Willmar.
CAIR-MN now wants Fernkes charged with a hate crime.
"If you curse a person's faith and then throw an object clearly designed to offend and intimidate, you should be charged with a hate crime," said CAIR-MN Civil Rights Director Amir Malik, in a press release.
According to a Willmar police press release, several people witnessed the incident and some provided photos of Fernkes, who left the area on a wheelchair scooter.
Officers then found Fernkes and issued a citation for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor chrage requiring a court appearance. If the crime was not witnessed by a licensed officer, it is not an arrestable offense, the police release said.
The CAIR-MN release said Fernkes cursed Islam's Prophet Muhammad and used anti-Muslim slurs. Further, people often use pig or pork products to offend Muslims, who do not consume those products.
The national CAIR organization has reported a 91 percent increase in anti-Muslim incidents in the second quarter of 2017 over the same period in 2016.
The case has been forwarded to the courts, and Fernkes' first court date is still pending.