White supremacists stoke fears, escalate conflicts, spark vigilante action

Part I in a series

Source: Google map.

In the small northern Minnesota town of Bemidji, population 15,404, concerns spread among civic leaders in late May that violent activists from outside the area were coming to burn their city.

This was just days after George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Protests and uprisings were happening in large urban areas across the country.

Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel said that his office had received information that buses “filled with protestors were headed to Bemidji,” according to the Duluth News Tribune, “… extremist organizations planned to infiltrate the peaceful protests … including starting fires.”

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht imposed evening curfews for the weekend of May 30 and 31.

Bemidji had good reason to worry — not about phantom arsonists but white supremacists escalating fear and tension. Continue reading