OutFront Minnesota Expresses Deep Concern Regarding Reported Prosecution of Hate Crime Victim in St. Louis County, MN
OutFront Minnesota is deeply concerned to learn that Max Pelofske has been charged with fifth degree assault and disorderly conduct in the wake of a terrifying hate crime, which occurred in New Independence, MN. The violent assault on Max by a group of young men took place at a deserted gravel pit on Memorial Day Weekend. Max's friend Kelly Johnson has also been charged with disorderly conduct for attempting to protect him during the assault. OutFront Minnesota requests the County Attorney's Office of St. Louis County to re-evaluate their criteria for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. OutFront Minnesota also urges the County Attorney's Office to drop all charges against Max Pelofske and Kelly Johnson while prosecuting the true perpetrators for this assault and for the hate crime that we believe it to be.
OutFront Minnesota denounces this travesty of the law as criminalizing and trivializing the experiences of Max and Kelly who attempted to gain safety and support through the criminal justice system. While we recognize that this incident at a senior party for Proctor High School graduates has deeply divided the local communities, we urge the St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office to uphold their responsibilities in determining a path toward justice, not simply for Max but for hate and bias crime victims everywhere.
This case is a stark reminder that even as we strive to create equality throughout Minnesota, we continue to face systems of oppression and power that deny the basic needs and rights of some of our most marginalized citizens. This miscarriage of justice is continuing to play out on the backs of Max and Kelly, two young people who have been harmed by the treatment they have experienced at the hands of professionals whose job is to protect them. We believe that the County Attorney's Office in St. Louis County is in denial about the very serious nature of anti-LGBT assaults, as are many prosecutors across the United States.
Recent published reports and statements continue to rely on half-truths and conjecture and are negatively impacting public perception of this case. Specifically, focusing on underage drinking, while certainly an important topic, detracts from the fact that a young man was assaulted because of his sexual orientation, which under Minnesota law qualifies as a hate crime.
OutFront Minnesota continues to stand committed to creating a Minnesota where LGBT people have the freedom, power and confidence to make the best choices for their own lives.
For more information, please contact:
Monica Meyer, OutFront Minnesota Executive Director 612-817-3480
Rebecca Waggoner, OutFront Minnesota Anti-Violence Program Director 612-384-1355
Stay safe: consider these Safety Tips (PDF) from the OutFront Minnesota Anti-Violence Department.