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Cross burning investigation welcomed by American-Islamic council

MINNEAPOLIS - The report of a burning cross in a Northern Township yard, north of Bemidji, has prompted the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) to welcome investigation of the incident as a bias crime.

An 8-foot-tall burning cross was found in a family's yard early Friday morning. The woman who found the burning cross is white. Her two adult children have a black father.

"We have an obligation to condemn all hate incidents and make it clear that they do not represent Minnesotans or our values," Lori Saroya, executive director for CAIR-MN, said Thursday in a news release.

"It's unfathomable that cross burnings and other acts of hate targeting people based on race are taking place in our state in 2012."

The incident also prompted Shared Vision, a community effort to address racial diversity and racial disparity in the greater Bemidji area, to issue a statement Wednesday.

Audrey Thayer, the coordinator of the Greater Minnesota Racial Justice Project (ACLU-MN), said Wednesday she has been in remains in frequent contact with the victim family.

She wants to meet with the Beltrami County Commission and Bemidji City Council to urge support for a resolution stating racist behavior and criminal activity is not acceptable for the community.

According to the CAIR-MN news statement Thursday, the organization asked law enforcement officials last week to probe hate vandalism at a Muslim home in Rochester. A Nazi swastika, the letters "KKK," and the word "stink" were written on the driveway of the family's home. The Rochester police department is currently investigating the incident as a bias crime.