DULUTH — Surveillance video from an incident at a West Duluth bar last week shows two men assaulting a Black woman, who was later taken to the hospital with injuries to her head and face, according to the Duluth Police Department.
The department originally characterized it as a fight between two women who were separated by two men — a report that was refuted by the victim and her family in Facebook posts and a GoFundMe site.
Michelle Folson wrote on her Facebook page that she was kicked in the head and face by two white men at the Rustic Bar late Tuesday night. She said she regained consciousness in the parking lot and walked to her daughter's workplace a few minutes away and was later taken to the hospital by a Mayo ambulance. She posted images of her face, covered in cuts and scrapes, her white shirt streaked in blood and the lenses of her glasses with a red film.
Folson said in a post that the bar cleaned up her blood — but the bartender wouldn't call the police, even when she begged.
The first public notification about the incident was posted Saturday on Facebook — an account that has since been clarified to include the assault.
In a news release Monday the police department said it responded to a call Wednesday at 12:15 a.m. and found the 39-year-old with injuries, a few blocks from the bar.
On Thursday, police requested video from the bar and received access two days later, the release said. They said the video shows a physical altercation between the victim and another woman before the two men, who knew the other woman, assaulted Folson.
The police department's original post drew anger from some of the hundreds of people who commented and shared the information, asking for action and more accuracy in the details. On the Rustic Bar's Facebook page, there are calls for accountability beneath a post about the venue's bingo numbers.
The investigation continues, according to the police department. No one has yet been charged.
Folson did not return messages, and a member of the local chapter of the NAACP said that Folson wasn't talking to media right now.
In a GoFundMe for her mother, Katasia Khabeer described the incident as a hate crime and a brutal attack. She said her mother's nose is broken on both sides, her teeth went through her lip, she has two black eyes and her head is swollen.
"The amount of blood on her leads me to believe they left her for dead," Khabeer wrote.
On Monday afternoon, Khabeer said in a message that she had just seen video footage and was not yet ready to talk about it.
Jeffery Flynn, the bar's owner, referred all questions to the police department.