Dubuque cross burning brings community together

April 16, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Another Dubuque cross burning incident has the community worried. This week, police in Dubuque, Iowa discovered several burned crosses, which prompted authorities and community leaders to hold a press conference and blast the “cowards” behind the hate crime.

Dubuque cross burning

Dubuque and cross burning – many are frustrated to see these words in the same sentence again and again. On Wednesday, morning at around 4 AM, police in Dubuque, Iowa were called to investigate a very disturbing scene.

When the officers arrived near the intersection of 22nd Street and Washington Street they found two burning crosses. Later that day, Dubuque Police Chief Mark Dalsing held a press conference to address the matter. Dalsing stood with more than 60 civil rights leaders and members of the Inclusive Dubuque Network to remind residents of how they came together 25 years ago when a spree of hate crimes put the city in the spotlight.

In the late 1980s/1990s, several people were prosecuted and spent time in prison for a series of cross burning incidents in Dubuque. City leaders have been working for the past 25 years to make sure history does not repeat itself. In 2013, the city launched the Inclusive Dubuque Network composed of:

… 60 community members, which are in the process of creating a community equity profile. They’ve surveyed the community about several issues including race relations.

During the press conference, Dalsing called whoever burned the crosses “cowards,” and said that hate crimes will not be tolerated. Police revealed that the two crosses were “crudely constructed” and when quizzed by reporters to give more details, they declined.

The authorities added that while they are conducting their investigation they have also contacted the FBI. Dubuque Mayor Roy Buol said:

“Now is the time for that citizen majority to stand together and extend a clear strong message, we will not allow this evil behavior to represent our community.”

Inclusive Dubuque Director Katrina Farren-Eller added:

“For many who live in Dubuque, which has traditionally been an almost all white community, seeing people of color walking down the street can be shocking.”

Community member Alan Garfield encouraged residents to spread the message by saying:

“Evil exists when good people do nothing.”

Dubuque NAACP Vice President Miquel Jackson asked the community to protest in a peaceful manner. He shared:

“We understand the feelings of anger and thoughts of retaliation. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about that.”

Dalsing concluded by saying that Dubuque is a small town, and people talk, so he expects to resolve the case.


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