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LETTER: Grand Forks must unite in support of Juba cafe

On Tuesday evening, Grand Forks community members gathered in front of Juba to hold a vigil and condemn the hateful act of arson that happened that morning. Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular representatives all voiced their disgust at the van...

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Investigators could be seen taking pictures of the site and digging through debris at Juba Coffee House, where a fire broke out in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Grand Forks Herald photo by Sarah Volpenhein.

On Tuesday evening, Grand Forks community members gathered in front of Juba to hold a vigil and condemn the hateful act of arson that happened that morning . Christian, Muslim, Jewish and secular representatives all voiced their disgust at the vandalism and crime, and this was a beautiful moment of solidarity.

But the people at the vigil - myself included - and the people condemning the acts on social media are the same people who regularly participate in diversity and inclusion events around Grand Forks.

These voices are important, but we should be hearing from the entire city.

My dad is a conservative Catholic, while I identify as a Bernie Sanders-supporting leftist. Though we obviously disagree on many issues, we get along great and can openly debate politics. This is because we both believe in human decency and denounce bigotry - sexism, racism, homophobia and so on.

Recently, we went to lunch. We debated economic policy on the way there and social issues on the way back (clearly, we’re really fun people). It was a lively yet civil conversation, because when I expressed concern about the bigotry coming from radical fringes of the Republican Party - Donald Trump and his supporters - my dad agreed, saying Trump’s rhetoric was dangerous and unacceptable.

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Fast forward a few weeks to someone perhaps taking Trump’s words literally and terrorizing our neighbors: the Juba restaurant, whose staff has always been so kind when both my dad and I stop by and enjoy their delicious Somali tea.

Republican, Democrat, moderate, left or right, it doesn’t matter. We all need to voice our opposition to hateful vandalism and arson, and we all need to stand in support of Juba.

Erin Lord Kunz

Grand Forks

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