Governor Mark Dayton attended a community conversation about race hosted by the St. Cloud NAACP and told people who have been questioning refugee resettlement in the central Minnesota region to “find another state.”
WJON reports the Governor’s statements, “This is a time for everybody who is a Minnesotan, a real Minnesotan to take a stand and say, ‘not in our state.’ If you are that intolerant, that much of a racist and a bigot, then find another state, they really should go somewhere else.” said Dayton.
An audience member replied, “I don’t want to be called a racist, but I do feel that I have a right to question some of the things that are going on.” He asked the Governor about who was financing the refugee resettlement in St. Cloud and Dayton replied, “The real answer to that is jobs, I think people who come here want jobs,” according to KARE 11.
Another citizen asked about assimilation into central Minnesota culture, a panel member responded by asking what central Minnesota was doing to become a more inclusive society.
The St. Cloud Times reports Dayton as also saying, “Minnesota is not like it was 30, 50 years ago. But, this is Minnesota and you have every right to be here. And anybody who cannot accept your right to be here and this is Minnesota should find another state.” The paper also quoted him as making a bizarre comment about the state’s citizenry, “Our economy cannot expand based on, white, B+, Minnesota-born citizens. We don’t have enough,” Dayton said.
The Star Tribune reported last fall that the number of Somali refugees resettled in Minnesota more than tripled from 2010-2014. There have been tensions in the St. Cloud area including Somali student walkouts at one of the local high schools as well as a threatened assault on school staff.
Yesterday’s event featured Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR.) Hussein has been pushing for taxpayer-funded Islamophobia training in St. Cloud and owns his own consulting company that provides cultural-sensitivity training.
Dayton is planning on holding similar “community conversations” around the state. The Governor is calling for increased funding for satellite offices of the state’s Department of Human Rights, according to the Star Tribune. He’s made closing economic disparities for minorities a focus of his remaining two years in office.
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