The “ racist ” vandalism raises the alarm in Cloquet
Graffiti depicting images of what appeared to be a version of a swastika, a Star of David and initials covered the exterior brick of the restroom building in the park.
Golen was shocked. She said it was strange to see such inappropriate and hateful symbols in a place full of carefree families – the same place where she and her husband got married.
Golen didn’t know who to call about the graffiti, so she took a photo and posted about the issue on social media in an effort to find a solution to the crowd.
After leaving the park on Thursday April 22, she posted a photo of the vandalized bathroom wall on the Cloquet Neighbors Facebook page. The post received more than 100 comments from Facebook users expressing concerns.
Among those who saw the post on Facebook was Cloquet’s liberty adviser Lara Wilkinson, who discussed the matter with city staff. On Friday morning, staff went to the park and removed most of the paint with a pressure washer.
“Thank you all for caring,” Wilkinson said in an update to the Facebook group on Friday morning. “The racist nature of some of the graffiti was particularly unacceptable. There is room in our community for broad perspectives and beliefs, but there is no room for racism in Cloquet. None of us should tolerate it. “
Golen shared that she was happy to see a unified community response condemning the vandalism, as well as the swift action taken by city officials.
“It was nice to see that everyone was pretty upset,” she said.
Although Golen believes the teens were likely responsible for the vandalism, some residents have expressed concern about a possible gang affiliation with the graffiti inscriptions.
According to Cloquet Police Chief Derek Randall, there is no evidence to suggest links between the vandalism and gang-related activity.
There are no active suspects in the case.
“It’s scary,” said mother Laura Lindemood. “It’s sad when I take my children (to Cloquet) and there is vandalism.”
Lindemood grew up in the Cloquet area and has since moved to West Duluth. She has three young biracial children and often takes them to Cloquet parks to play outside in a safe environment.
She said she used to travel to Cloquet for everything, but was wary of the recent vandalism. She shared that images like the one at the Veterans Memorial Park create a difficult environment and raise questions that she struggles to answer, especially as a white parent.
This is not the only case of vandalism that Cloquet has seen recently, with other marks of graffiti being reported in other areas of the city.
City administrator Tim Peterson explained that it appears that vandalism occurs sporadically, with several places being tagged with the same type of image. He said another swastika-type symbol was found in the city.
Randall believes the only other issue somewhat related to the vandalism of the Veterans Memorial Park was political issues that arose last fall and spring.
He asked anyone with information on the current case to contact the Cloquet police department and anyone who witnessed vandals in action to call 911.
Peterson encouraged anyone who notices cases of vandalism to call City Hall.
“City staff take great pride in the community and this type of vandalism is taken seriously by everyone,” he said.
To reach the Cloquet police department, dial 218-879-1240.
To reach Cloquet Town Hall, dial 218-879-3347.
To leave an anonymous advice to the Cloquet police department, send “TIP CLOQUETPD”, followed by your message, to 888777.