On days the internet's ultra-right-wing hate blogs are running light on content, drawing parallels between burgeoning immigrant populations and rising crime rates is an easy, evergreen topic. After all, no citation is required to create a warm, fuzzy aura of confirmation bias.
But when the blog Stuff Black People Don't Like accused Somalis in Minneapolis of importing crime into what was formerly one of the safest cities in the nation, fed-up Irregular Times writer Jim Cook actually crunched the numbers.
Considering that refugees surged into Minneapolis starting in about 1993 with the onset of the Somali civil war, Cook compared violent crime rates in the city on either side of that marker. From 1985 to 1992, the violent crime rate was 1,553 incidents per 100,000 population. From 1994 to 2013, it was 1,378 per 100,000.
Violent crime has actually decreased, which means if we pretend that we can reasonably match crime trends to the growth and decline of a single immigrant group, Minneapolis could definitely use more Somalis.
Mohamed Guled Abdi, a Somali immigrant who settled in Minneapolis to join friends and family, says virtual hatemongers can say whatever they like online as long as they don't bother him in real life.
"I don't mind. I came to this country because in my country, there is a lot of fighting, a lot of hardship," Abdi said. "The United States welcomed me with open arms. To me it's a good country."
Except for that time he took his son out of Somalia to escape the violence only to have Minneapolis police shoot him down in the street.
Abdi claims officers shot his 24-year-old sone, Ahmed Mohamed Guled, during a stop on Morgan Avenue North in 2009. He sued, accusing officers of using excessive force resulting in wrongful death.
In their defense, police argued Guled had been driving a stolen car when they turned on their flashers, motioning for him to pull over. Court documents state that at some point in the ensuing action, police fired multiple rounds into the driver's seat and Guled rammed into a patrol car.
Abdi attempted to represent himself while retaining a Somali interpreter, but struggled to make court deadlines. A district court dismissed his lawsuit in 2013, advising him to find a lawyer before filing another complaint.
He maintains that his son was unarmed, and police didn't have to shoot.