A group of Minneapolis teenagers have found themselves making headlines after publishing a video of themselves pushing people over in the street. Identified as of Somali origin, the pranksters will, our observer explains, only add fuel to the fire for the local anti-Somali press.
The six-minute-video was posted on YouTube by "madbi001" on 17 November. Despite a jovial introduction and upbeat soundtrack, the cruel scenes that follow were found far from funny by most YouTubers and soon came to the attention of the local police, leading to the immediate arrest of two members of the group. The incident soon found its way into the local headlines - many of them quick to report that the boys are Somali (when in fact they are American of Somali origin).
Immigration from Somalia into the US began in the early 1990s when the civil war started. Since then, tens of thousands of Somalis have arrived in the country, and Minnesota has received the largest numbers. The city estimates that 60-70,000 residents are of Somali origin.
“Watch This TV, Episode 1”
The video was removed from YouTube within 24 hours.
“These kids are as American as any other kid in the USA”
Abdulkadir Mohamed is a Somali who has been living in Minneapolis for ten years. He writes the blog Royale Somali.
The teens live in the Rondo neighbourhood in St. Paul - an ethnically and economically diverse neighbourhood. These kids were born here in America to Somali parents, but are as American as any other kid in the USA. They watch and imitate TV shows and play violent video games. Nevertheless, that is in no way justifiable of their terrible assaults on strangers in the street. As some teenagers pointed out in the papers, they were trying to imitate shows like Jackass but they seem to have missed the point. This kind of activity becomes criminal rather than funny.
I went to the Somali mall yesterday afternoon and everyone was fuming. These boys have brought shame to the community and to their parents in particular. They have no respect for the elderly, their neighbours, and even worse, for authority. Everyone was saying that these boys need to be tried in a juvenile court and made to do extensive community service.
This is not big news - how many times do we hear about kids playing pranks and filming it? But for the right-wing press, who are always happy to report a negative story about Somali immigrants, this was a great story. They also drew a lot of attention to the "missing Somalis" [when a dozen Somali immigrants went missing, presumed training with al-Shabab militants in Somalia] and when a gay man was verbally attacked at the city's gay parade by a group of kids. So it's no surprise that they're making a big deal out of this case too. They've already linked the suspects with a local NGO called the Somali Youth Development Organization in Minnesota, which for some reason, they often link with bad news, when really it's a good organisation. Compared with all these negative articles, there's hardly one that reports the good things that the Somali community does in the area."