Fabricated Racial Incident Included In Edina “Race and Equity” Report

City officials said the intent of the report was not to spur investigations into alleged racial incidents, and indicated no intent to further examine the content of the report for validity.

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Credit: City of Edina/Edina Race and Equity Task Force

EDINA, Minn. – Edina officials are having to issue corrections to a “race and equity” report after finding one of the incidents referred to in the report did not occur.

Last month the Edina Race and Equity Task Force released a report on the race relations in Edina. The report featured several alleged racial incidents, and offered 21 recommendations to “address, identify, and eliminate racial disparities” within the community. However, the Task Force has come under fire recently for including false information in the report, leading some to wonder how much of the report is based in fact.

Council Member Kevin Staunton said in a council meeting that the mission of the report is to get community members to “recognize we have issues that we have to deal with.” The process, according to Staunton, should make community members “uncomfortable.”

Part of the “uncomfortable” process includes reading many alleged racial incidents that were gathered by the Task Force. The incidents were reported anonymously in effort to provide a “safe venue” for individuals to share their racial experiences. However, the Task Force failed to ensure the same protection for those involved in the alleged incidents and “inadvertent identifiers” were left in the report.

One of the incidents included in the report alleged a member of the Edina High School boys’ hockey team physically assaulted a player on the team during a captains’ practice at Braemar arena. The anonymous comment alleged some senior members of the team singled out a younger African American player in the locker room and “started punching and choking him while calling him the n-word.”

The anonymous comment spurred an investigation by the school district, coaches, and parents. Mayor James Hovland reported on the investigation during a city council meeting, saying the incident was “found not to have occurred with the 2017-2018 team or in the recent past.”

“It seems to be important that adequate protections as to identity are in place to protect all parties to a story, particularly when anonymous reporting precludes vetting a report for accuracy,” Hovland said. “In this case, a story in the survey was investigated by folks involved—the school district, the coaches, and the parents—and found not to have occurred with the 2017-2018 team or in the recent past.”

Questions remain whether the hockey team story is the only false allegation in the report.

Hovland acknowledged there many be other incidents included in the report that have enough specific detail to “cause anyone reading the report to be able to identify with greater certainty a location where an alleged incident of racial bias occurred and potentially who might have been involved.” Revisions will be made to the report in order to fairly protect all identities.

City officials said the intent of the report was not to spur investigations into alleged racial incidents, and indicated no intent to further examine the content of the report for validity.

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