151. vicinage

Standard

To—Mark S. Rubin, St. Louis County Attorney:

When I heard about the story of Max Pelofske being charged with fifth degree assault and disorderly conduct for defending himself in the midst of a hate crime, my jaw almost hit the floor. Even more astounding was that a friend coming to his aid was also charged with a crime. What does this say about our legal system in Minnesota—that the victim of a crime motivated by bigotry and prejudice would be punished for merely standing up for his rights? This is not consistent with the values I have observed and come to associate with this state—fairness, decency and respect for the dignity of human life being just a few.

The law is supposed to protect citizens and punish those who step outside those boundaries. The only wrongdoers in this case are the young men who decided to let their hatred for Mr. Pelofske based solely on his sexual orientation drive them to attack him.

In the Book of Esther in the Jewish Tanakh, King Ahasuerus’ prime minister Haman is driven by his hatred of Mordechai, a Jew and cousin of Queen Esther, to kill not just him but all of the Jews in Persia. Haman convinces Ahasuerus to allow him to carry out this plot without either of them knowing that Esther is herself Jewish and therefore under the death sentence. Upon learning the truth about the plot, Ahasuerus has Haman hanged but cannot revoke his own decree. He does, however, allow the Jews to defend themselves against the decreed attacks, which they do, and the Jewish people are saved from being unjustly annihilated.

There are many in Minnesota—some in our legislature—who wish to do away with GLBT citizens in this state. They may not want to kill us, but they do want to take away our right to defend ourselves and to be protected against attacks on us based on our sexual orientation. They want to hand bullies of all ages the unassailable right to abuse and mistreat us with impunity. That is categorically wrong.

If the incredulous charges against Max Pelofske and Kelly Johnson are allowed to stand, the bullies and the terrorists (for they are indeed terrorists) in this state have won, and the eyes of the nation are watching, looking to see how we handle civil rights in this state. GLBT teenagers are watching to see if their state is going to side with them or with their attackers.  If the law won’t stand up for the rights of minorities and even goes so far as to take away the right to self-defense for (and the right of others to come  to the defense of) GLBT individuals, then who will?

Thank you for listening, as I hope you’ll listen to everyone who has responded asking the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office to drop the charges, to side with human rights, and not apply the law unfairly and unjustly.

Sincerely,

David Philip Norris


If you’d like to write your own letter to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office to voice your support for equal treatment and protection of GLBT individuals under the law and ask for the county to drop the charges against these two people, you can do so at countyattorney@stlouiscountymn.gov. They are scheduled to appear in court August 23 and 30. (Please be respectful, to help ensure that the County Attorney takes this issue seriously.)

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