A mother's view: May altercation was a hate crime, and it must be prosecuted as suchMany people have supported my daughter, Kelly Johnson, and her friend, Max Pelofske, after they were involved in an altercation on Memorial Day weekend (“Duluth man says he’ll go to trial on assault charges,” July 18).
By: Lisa Johnson, for the News Tribune
Many people have supported my daughter, Kelly Johnson, and her friend, Max Pelofske, after they were involved in an altercation on Memorial Day weekend (“Duluth man says he’ll go to trial on assault charges,” July 18). I’ve been overwhelmed by the compassion of complete strangers who’ve shown their support by writing letters and e-mails and by attending a rally on Saturday, July 8.
My husband, Kory, and I have lived in this community our whole lives. Both our daughters graduated here. This is the neighborhood we call home.
My concern stems from a phone call I received from Kelly. She was crying and fearing for Max’s life. She and my other daughter, Jenny, witnessed several people beat Max because of his sexual orientation.
We hear about hate crimes in the news and read about them in the paper, but it seems beyond reality they could occur in our very own community. When Max was beaten by several intoxicated high school students on Memorial Day weekend it was most definitely a hate crime.
In this day and age everyone should have the right to feel safe no matter what their race, religious belief, age, appearance, disability or sexual preference.
My hope is that the St. Louis County prosecutor will drop the charges against Kelly and Max. The only thing they are guilty of is sticking up for themselves. If we start punishing people for doing that we are sending a message that it is OK for people to take their opinions and beliefs out on others through violence.
As a mother and a member of this community, the only thing I want for our children is for them to be happy, healthy and safe.
Threats through Facebook and the dishonesty of some of the people involved in this incident have been hurtful to read and hear.
I have seen firsthand how people can be treated when they stand up for what is right versus going along with the crowd, and I am truly proud of both my daughters.
I could say I just want it to all go away so I don’t have to worry about their safety, but I truly believe that, as unfortunate as this was to happen, it happened for a reason.
Since this hate crime occurred I have heard of at least one other crime in this same community against another person because he was seen by kids as different. My heart goes out to that person and his family and all of the others we do not hear about.
I am asking my community to request that charges be dropped against Kelly and Max and that the prosecuting attorney see this incident for what it is: a hate crime. I want to continue to be proud of my community and the people I call my neighbors.
It is not acceptable for anyone to live in fear because they do not have the same beliefs as others. I am proud to be able to be an individual, but I also respect others who are individuals. When we see each other for what we truly are — another person instead of a stereotype — we are open to gaining many gifts from each other.
Lisa Johnson lives in Saginaw.