Alpha News, a secretive news outlet with ties to wealthy conservatives, is peddling a 7-year old video in what appears to be an attempt to generate fear against Minnesota’s Somali community in Minnesota’s LGBTQ community.
“While Governor Mark Dayton preaches ‘tolerance’ following the Crossroads Mall Islamic terrorist attack over the weekend, a video of a group of (presumably) Somali young men harassing a white (presumably) gay man on a Minneapolis street has surfaced,” wrote Alpha News reporter Andrea Mayer-Bruestle.
Later in the article, she added, “While unity rallies are taking place in St. Cloud, it appears the young men in the video aren’t looking for the same unity.”
Mayer-Bruestle made sure to drive that point home: While Dayton was calling for calm, young Somali people are attacking gay men in the streets to spite his calls for calm. On Facebook where Mayer-Bruestle also goes by MN Hockey Mama, she chastised Dayton while sharing her article with Trump supporters:
On Twitter, Mayer-Bruestle wrote:
— REBELHockeyMama (@MNHockeymama) September 21, 2016
The video that Alpha News is sharing is more than 7 years old; those young men are not young men any more. The original can be viewed here.
My knowledge of that video is also seven years old. I wrote an article about it for the (now-defunct) Minnesota Independent on July 7, 2009 at 11:52pm. I’ve pasted that article below (it’s also archived at Twin Cities Daily Planet) which includes statements from the Somali community, the LGBTQ community, Minneapolis police, and the victims in the video. Gov. Mark Dayton, who Mayer-Bruestle is quick to criticize in her piece, was a candidate for governor at the time and offered a statement on the incident.
Alpha News has quickly made a name for itself in the peddling of not only Islamophobia but also dabbled in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
Recent headlines include:
- Chaos Breaks out at Mall of America During Islamic Celebration
- MN Neighborhood Group says Mosque is Overusing Local Park
- Does Rep. Keith Ellison Have Ties to Radical Islam?
- MN Congressman Accused of Ties to Muslim Brotherhood
- Muslim teen boxer fights to wear Islamic-garb in Duluth Tourney
- Facebook Censors Page Warning of Sharia Law
The publication frequently pushed a now debunked story about Somali House of Representatives candidate Ilhan Omar supposedly marrying her brother (Omar has been one of the Somali community’s most outspoken supporters of LGBTQ equity).
The organization has been championing anti-transgender legislation and taken subtle digs at the LGBTQ community with titles such as:
- Minnesota GOP Introduce Legislation Limiting Bathroom/Locker Room Use to Biological Sex at Birth
- Generation Indoctrination: Gay Marriage great, America not so much
- Emmer and Paulsen Break from GOP to Support Obama Transgender Policies
- Taxpayer-funded Minnesota Arts, “A Midnight Queer”
- “Student Physical Privacy Act” Challenges State High School League on Transgender Policy
A good example was this week’s “U.S. Treasury Report Shows Small Percentage of Marriages are LGBT” which quotes Minnesota Family Council head John Helmberger insinuating that marriage equality was never about getting married:
“Though the homosexual population is widely recognized to be 1-2 percent of the general population, only a fraction are actually getting ‘married,’ according to this report,” Minnesota Family Council CEO John Helmberger wrote in a prepared statement, “The Treasury report exposes the myth generated by same-sex advocates that there was a huge, pent up demand for legal ‘marital’ status among the homosexual community.”
Mayer-Bruestle also includes a snippet from a piece by professional racist, sexist, and transphobe (who is also gay) Milo Yiannopoulos.
What the Alpha news piece lacks is any form of journalism. Basic questions aren’t asked such as: When did this incident take place? Where did it take place? Who took the video? Who is in the video? What was the outcome?
And most importantly, has it been posted before? A Google search of “somali gay pride” and “somali gay minneapolis” quickly answers most, if not all, of those questions.
Alpha News says of itself: “Unlike traditional media, our programming goes beyond the headlines and focuses on issues of local interest that consistently go unreported.”
In this case — unlike traditional media — it looks like no reporting occurred at all.
If Alpha News’ intended reaction was racism and Islamophobia, the article did the trick. On Facebook, followers reacted:
Just after 4pm on Wednesday, the article appears to have been deleted. By 6pm, the news outlet had updated the article to make clear that the video was from 2009. Alpha news did not respond to a series of questions about the article except to state it had updated the original.
Here are screenshots of the orginial Alpha News article:
My original article about the video is here:
Pride harassment video prompts debate over racism, anti-gay bias
A video of Somali youth harassing a gay man captured last week at the Twin Cities Pride Festival has garnered a lot of attention, spurred debate, and spawned numerous press releases.
Video author Justin Grey Day and the victim, Adam Schreifels, released videos responding to the debate over the incident. Politicians have denounced bias crimes against LGBT people, Minneapolis police say they would have stopped the incident had they been in the area, and some members of the LGBT community say the actions of the youth involved should not lead to more oppression — namely racism.
To raise awareness of anti-gay bias, members of the LGBT community are planning a “Big Gay Kiss on the Mall” on July 23. The kiss-in by same-sex couples at Peavey Plaza is a direct response to the harassment seen in the video, according to organizers.
Gubernatorial candidate and former Sen. Mark Dayton denounced the youths’ actions and promised that dealing with harassment would be part of his campaign:
A recent YouTube video shows a group of youths harassing a gay man at last Sunday’s Pride parade. I deplore their immoral and illegal actions. It is also extremely disturbing that the video shows a security officer walking by the harassment and doing nothing to stop it.
There is no place in Minnesota for that kind of immoral and illegal behavior. If I become Governor, I pledge to do everything within my power to stop it.
A spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said that the uniformed individuals in the video were not Minneapolis officers.
Currently, there is a video on YouTube of an incident that occurred sometime during the Minneapolis Gay Pride Festival. There has been some speculation that Minneapolis Police Officers were in that video. The Minneapolis Police Department wants to assure the public that those security officers who casually walk by during this incident were not from our department. We have a strict uniform policy and those were not our uniforms or our police officers. This is unacceptable behavior that would not be tolerated by the Minneapolis Police. Action would have been taken immediately to stop the harassment that is depicted in the video.
OutFront Minnesota said that the incident should not be an excuse for anger at people from different racial or ethnic backgrounds:
A video appearing on YouTube depicts verbal harassment of Twin Cities Pride attendees by a small group of young people. OutFront Minnesota decries all hate- or bias-motivated violence and harassment, regardless of who is targeted; we are glad the targets were not physically harmed. This particular incident adds a level of controversy because the perpetrators and targets appear to be of different racial backgrounds. As we have seen in the wake of the Prop. 8 vote in California, racism exists within the GLBT community and can rise to the surface at difficult times. It’s critical to remember that judging a person’s actions is different from judging their presumed background. OutFront Minnesota remains committed to helping address racism within the GLBT community, and to being a strong advocate for GLBT community members from ALL racial or ethnic backgrounds.
Omar Jamal of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center told FOX 9 News that some in the Somali community think Schreifels set the boys up: “Some of the community believe this is a frame-up where the gay guy provoked the Somali boys while his friend video taped them.”
Schreifels sent a letter to Jamal clarifying what happened:
I am insulted by your response, and by those in your community who would imply the ridiculous possibility that this was a frame-up. It does nothing to gain favor of a community that has represented themselves poorly to the gay community already. We haven’t forgotten the gays being kicked out of cabs by Somali cab drivers. Furthermore, it shifts the responsibility for this behavior onto me and my friend, rather than on the ignorant teenagers who were shouting these hateful words, which were most likely learned by their parents, or religious leaders. This is unacceptable. The notion that somehow they may have been provoked or framed needs to be put to rest immediately.
Demanding these kids be held accountable would send a sign that your words of condemnation are not merely words, but a sign of intolerance for this kind of behavior. Anything less than this response simply sends the message that the actions of these young boys are acceptable in your eyes.
Justin Grey Day, the video’s author, also called for calm in response to racist sentiments emerging in the aftermath: