Delano has had it with hatred.
City leaders announced Saturday that a candlelight vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Sunday in the City Hall parking lot to launch Delano United, an anti-racism movement spurred by a crime committed this past week against a black family that had moved to town in December.
Last Sunday, the home of Latanza Douglas, her husband and their three foster children was burglarized and spray-painted with racist slurs and swastikas. In addition to a Wright County sheriff’s investigation, the case could be investigated by federal authorities if the vandalism can be classified as a hate crime.
The incident has prompted an outpouring of anger and grief in the western exurban town, and on Saturday, Gov. Mark Dayton met privately with the family to express condolences on behalf of all Minnesotans.
“This past week a despicable and traumatic crime was committed against members of our community,” city leaders said in a letter released Saturday. “This racist crime of hate against one of our families will not be tolerated. Our hearts are broken as we witness the damage upon the family and our community. This does not represent the values we hold dear or the community we aspire to be.
“We stand together, as Delano United, to take action as a community,” the letter continued. “This past week the community has coordinated acts of kindness with regards to this incident, and we are not done.
“Short-term acts express how much we care, and our long-term commitment to root out any sentiments of hate from our community will enforce what we believe. As leaders of our community, we will be coordinating our actions together in the days, weeks, and months ahead to show support for all of our residents. Additionally, we are embarking on a sustained effort to reinforce education and awareness of issues of inclusivity within our community.”
The letter is signed by Mayor Dale Graunke; Delano school board Chairwoman Amy Johnson; the Rev. Matt Sipe, pastor of Delano United Methodist, on behalf of the town’s faith communities, and Delano Chamber of Commerce President Mike Nielsen.
The Douglas family has decided to leave the house in the 200 block of 2nd Street SW. for a community where they can feel more accepted, according to Naresh Uppal, whose company built the home and will buy it back from them as they try to start fresh.
Uppal said the couple moved into the home in December with the foster children, whom he described as “at risk.” The children range in age from 9 to 12; two are black and the other white. He said the family’s new home will be in a northwest metro suburb that he declined to identify.
“These are children that no one really wants to adopt,” said Uppal, who is acting as the family’s spokesman. “These kids don’t cause any trouble in school or anything like that. The kids are shocked. It’s unfortunate that this is the world we live in.”
Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information about the vandalism to call 763-682-7733.