A group of vandals was captured on video spray painting a slogan linked to a white supremacist group onto the storefront of the Hmong Cultural Center Museum in St. Paul, Minnesota.
‘Whitewashing’: Mark Pfeifer, program director of the cultural center, discovered the vandalism when he came to work on Wednesday morning, according to Twin Cities. He then informed his colleagues through a message that their storefront was “whitewashed” with a “possible white supremacist message.”
- “The lock to the museum is welded shut due to all the paint,” Pfeifer said. “We can’t even get in there today and probably will not until we can get a locksmith to come over.”
- A surveillance video from a tattoo parlor near the Hmong Cultural Center Museum showed three people vandalizing the storefront on Wednesday at around 3:45 a.m. They were all seen wearing black clothes and masks, with one of the vandals appearing to have light-colored skin.
- The message on the cultural center was , “Life, Liberty, Victory,” which is connected to a white supremacist group known as Patriot Front. The vandals reportedly painted over poetic verses on the plywoods installed during the riots in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd.
- Vandals also targeted May’s Market, a business beside the cultural center, KSTP reported. No arrests have been made so far.
- The total damage on the building is estimated to be around $1,000, including the new signboard they just put up, which cost $700, FOX9 reported.
- “We just had our new sign installed this weekend and we were so excited about our formal launch,” Pfeifer said. “I’m kind of depressed about the whole situation. It shows there’s those sentiments out there in the community. We’re just going to have to get those boards off of there and possibly get a new sign.”
The center just opened: The incident occurred only days after the Hmong Cultural Center Museum greeted their first visitors. They welcomed 70 first-year students from Macalester College on Aug. 30 and the media on Sept. 7 to the museum.
- “We are very disappointed by this turn of events but we think it shows the strong ongoing need for the work of our center and our museum to promote goodwill and cultural understanding at least to those open to these things,” Pfeifer said. “The inside is beautiful. I don’t want that to get lost in this whole thing.”
Condemnation: Many people took to social media to condemn the vandalism on the museum, while organizations issued statements to stand with the Hmong Cultural Center Museum following the crime.
- The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling on the local government to stand against anti-Asian hate crime and condemn the vandalism on the museum.
- “Anti-Asian hate is on the rise and this latest attack targeting the Hmong Museum should be condemned in the strongest terms,” the statement read. “We call on local, state and national law enforcement authorities to treat this incident as a hate crime and for elected officials to condemn it and work to pass hate crime legislation that has been outlined by many civil rights organizations.”
- Other organizations, such as the Minnesota House DFL, TakeAction Minnesota and the American Jewish Committee, have also issued statements online to show support.