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Grand Marais rallies against racial harassment and hate speech in community

Oct 02, 2017 09:24AM ● Published by Editor

By Jessie Slater - KBJR6.com - GRAND MARAIS, MN - October 1, 2017

Allegations of racism and bullying in the Grand Marais School District is fueling a community-wide discussion on how to address the problem.

An incident we reported on last week highlighted a family at the center of the alleged harassment, who say it's gotten so bad recently they are prepared to take their daughter out of Cook County Senior High School. 

Sunday in Grand Marais, residents took a stand, by hosting a rally to end racial harassment and hate speech in their schools and community. 

Bullying is something no parent wants to see their child endure, but it happens more often than parents and teachers can see.

A student in the Cook County school district, Jack Willis says, "I actually have been bullied before, I have been assaulted twice."

Whether it be physical or emotional abuse, children are wondering what they can do to avoid becoming victims of bullying.  

Willis says, "I personally don't know what to do. I'm watching over my friends to see how they are doing. I don't really know if anyone is watching over me."

Nearly 150 people gathered in Harbor Park for a rally to inspire and empower each other to create change.

Co-Founder of Arrowhead Indivisible, Pat Campanaro says, "I'm hoping the message it sends is that we're all in this together and we're very interested in being a part of the solution."

Arrowhead Indivisible put on the rally. They handed out inspirational signs to allow the crowd to show further support.  

"This shows our community is really standing together to try to find a solution to move forward to end any racial harassment or hate speech in our community," says second Co-Founder Denny FitzPatrick. 

Dozens of people stepped up the microphone to share their perspectives. 

One man said, "I think that the standard here is that we should not be satisfied until every child in our school district feels physically and emotionally safe."

A student in Cook County School District, Isabel Wahlers took the microphone and said, "there was a boy who would bully me 24/7. It got so bad that I had to take a week off of school."

They say an event like this is really needed in the community. "With whats going on with the school right now, I really think that something like this, it just brings a lot of love."

The community is encouraging students to speak up if they witness someone who is being bullied or discriminated.   

Willis says, "I'm being mindful of people being bullied and if I do see it, I'm going to say something."

Community members are asking people to attend PTA  and School Board meetings to show solidarity against hate speech and bullying in the school district. 

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