Racist sign at area coffee shop prompts community action

Published: Mar. 27, 2017 at 6:55 PM CDT
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A racist sign placed in the doorway of an area coffee shop has prompted community action.

In the Village of Pepin community members created a "welcoming community" resolution to take a stand against what they say is racial harassment.

“I went through a whole variety of emotions, shock, sadness, and some anger,” said Alejandro De La Peña, the owner of 404 Coffee Shop in Pepin.

On February 17th De La Peña said a racist sign with the handwritten words,” GO BACK MEXICAN,” was left on the stoop of his coffee shop.

He added, “One thing I didn't want to do was keep this quiet. I wanted it to get out.”

This weekend several members of local clergy and law enforcement along with Pepin community members unanimously approved the wording of the resolution.

One of the authors, Andrea Myklebust, said the resolution is intended to be a symbolic stance.

Myklebust explained, “If we're silent about that as a community it implies consent; it implies agreement. So we as a community really had to come together to say, "No, that's not who we are, that's not what we believe."

Myklebust says about 75 community members got together at the Pepin Village Hall to approve the wording and support the resolution which looks to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance.

“It basically expresses the idea that everyone is welcome here in Pepin,” added Myklebust.” That we recognize the value of having people from lots of different places, people with lots of different points of views, different ethnicities, different religious backgrounds and that it's all part of what makes our community strong and whole. “

Community members will now present the resolution to the boards of Pepin County villages, towns and, cities for formal approval but De La Peña says just the show of community support has already made a difference.

He explained, “To combat this sort of behavior I think we need education and awareness and for communities to come together and support the people who are being harasses and that's happened here.”

De La Peña does say the investigation into the incident is still under investigation.



We Are a Welcoming Community


Whereas, people in Pepin County have come here from many places over time; and

Whereas, we are committed to building a neighborly atmosphere where all people feel safe, welcome, and supported; and

Whereas, fostering an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of all people regardless of race, ethnicity, faith, place of origin, gender, or sexual orientation is critical to the preservation of civil society; and

Whereas, we, the citizens of Pepin County area recognize that welcoming visitors and new residents to our area is a benefit to all residents; and

Whereas, all members of our community possess the potential to contribute to our economic and social vitality, strengthen our cultural fabric, and share in our community prosperity for current and future generations,

Now, be it hereby resolved, that we, the citizens of Pepin County affirm that ours is a welcoming community; that we will express this spirit through word and deed, and that this commitment will guide our actions for the benefit of all.