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Forum Communications, Published July 17 2012

Fight after Hibbing dance may be racially motivated

HIBBING, Minn. – Police Investigator Dale Wright said his city’s annual summer street dance had been a lot of fun for the Iron Range during his 20 years in the department, but early Sunday the spillover from the dance led to a brawl with racial overtones and potential criminal charges against five people.

All 28 Hibbing police officers were assigned to work Saturday, and a police report indicated that 13 officers in uniform and plain clothes were at the dance. After the dance ended, a call came in of an altercation in a parking lot.

Responding officers found a 52-year-old Hibbing man bleeding heavily from a head injury just after 1 a.m. Sunday, about a half-block off the Howard Street dance site.

“According to him, they were calling him the ‘N-word,’ and he ended up punching one of the guys and eventually more people got involved and it pretty much really got out of control,” Wright said. “They ended up attacking him and knocking him unconscious. They used their fists and their feet.”

Wright said the man, the only black man in the brawl, has been released from the hospital.

During the fracas, the man apparently pulled a pocket knife with a two-inch blade and stabbed two people, Wright said. The investigator said there could be formal charges against as many as five people. He said in some instances it was difficult to determine who was the victim and who was the assailant.