Twin Cities outraged by YouTube thugs


What kind of people allow their faces and names to be shared publicly on a YouTube video that documents them roaming the Twin Cities, laughing for the camera as they assault pedestrians, bike riders, and children?

Increasingly, it looks like they're the kind of people who get arrested.

Mohamed Abdi, 19, of Oakdale, and a juvenile are now in custody in St. Paul. Three other juveniles have been arrested in Minneapolis.

We've been mirroring and embedding their video since the clip first surfaced on YouTube. Within a day of the coverage, someone pulled the clip from the popular video sharing website, but not before others had archived it elsewhere.

City Pages re-posted the clip on its own YouTube channel, but YouTube pulled down that version as well, citing its violent content. The genie was out of the bottle, however, and we've used other channels to get the clip into the pubic domain.

Viewers on our site and others combed through the clip, identifying participants and landmarks—including Central High School and Dunning Field in St. Paul—and began placing calls to Twin Cities authorities.

Police say they have now identified all eight people seen in the video.

MinnPost + Katherine Kersten = Strange Bedfellows

MinnPost recently published a softball interview with conservative scold Katherine Kersten. An ostensibly nonpartisan website that publishes mostly liberal writers, MinnPost appears to be wearing the Kersten interview as a fig leaf of sorts.

The only problem is that MinnPost is dependent on readers for donations, and in comments below the Kersten interview, it was clear the audience felt outraged and betrayed over a puff piece on their most ardent adversary.

MinnPost's managing editor, Roger Buoen, defended his editorial decision to publish the two-part interview, in which author Michael J. Bonafield offers questions but never challenges Kersten's assertions on everything from gay marriage to Trotsky-loving liberals.

"It never entered my mind" that giving Kersten an unobstructed forum to express her controversial views might aggravate readers to the point that they'd cut off their donations, Buoen says.

Those donations matter. MinnPost is a registered nonprofit. Its launch was seeded by initial funding of $850,000 from four families, MinnPost CEO Joel Kramer, and his wife, Laurie. The site also draws on the philanthropy of various major-player foundations. And its donors pitch in anywhere from $10 to $20,000 a year.

Producing quality journalism under that kind of umbrella "is something that we talk about all the time," Buoen said, adding that editorial decisions are made independent of donor influences, and MinnPost trusts its readers and supporters to understand.

"Katherine Kersten is one of the most prominent conservative columnists in town. She's an important person," Buoen says. Maybe most MinnPost readers disagree with what she has to say, and maybe most MinnPost staffers—described by Buoen himself as a liberal crowd—don't like her views either. But, he says, there's nothing wrong with exposing those views.

Indeed, Buoen says he'd happily hire a self-described conservative journalist to change up the dynamics of his newsroom—if he could find one willing to do good original reporting and writing that goes beyond an opinion piece.

"It's hard to find them," he says.

Origin of the Doctored Darwin

Some University of Minnesota students found themselves civilians in the culture wars this month when a group of conservative evangelical Christians peppered the Minneapolis campus with 1,000 doctored copies of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species. When students opened the book they found a 50-page introduction attacking its findings.

The Minnesota Daily traced the book back to a California organization called Living Waters, whose founder, Ray Comfort, published the adulterated reprint.

Comfort, like many evangelicals, wants faith-based creationism taught alongside fact-based science on college campuses, and he's spoken widely about using his version of Darwin's book to challenge college professors and curriculums. He says more than 20,000 copies of the book have been sold.