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Cross burnings investigated in Dubuque

investigateDUBUQUE, IOWA – Police and elected leaders in Dubuque are reacting to two apparent cross burnings in that city.

On April 13, 2016 at approximately 4:41 AM the Dubuque 911 Center received a call of something burning at 22nd and Washington Streets. Police responded and nothing was located at that time.

At approximately 9:30 AM, police were notified of burned items located in that same general area. Police located two crudely constructed items that appeared to be crosses damaged by fire.

Police are investigating the incident under the premise these are in fact crosses burned with fire, as a Violation of Individual Rights, commonly referred to as a hate crime. The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Dubuque Police Department. The US Attorney’s Office and the FBI have been notified of the incident as well.

At a news conference held Thursday morning,

“Regardless of the motive or intent the suspect or suspects may have had, we take any hate crime with the utmost seriousness and urgency,” Dubuque Police Chief Mark Dalsing said at a news conference Thursday morning.

Chief Dalsing touched briefly on the scars left in Dubuque after similar cross burnings took place there back in 1989, as did Mayor Roy Buol.

“It was well over two decades ago when our city suffered a similar hate incident,” Mayor Buol said.  “To be clear. Such behavior will not be tolerated.”

Locally, the Dubuque NAACP agency says it “is working to speak out and we will continue our effort to eliminate hate of any kind… what you can do as a community is to acknowledge that we have a hate issue within this country. Then we work to fix this issue.”

According to a 1991 story in the New York Times, after “a cross-burning incident (two years earlier) that surprised many people, the city council … adopted an extraordinary plan to attract 100 black families in hopes of adding diversity to this virtually all-white city of 58,000 people. Since then, a backlash of fear and intolerance has erupted. And when a man who admitted burning three of the crosses returned from jail to his job at a meatpacking plant, his co-workers are said to have greeted him with backslaps and a standing ovation.”

There are no suspects yet in this week’s incident.


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