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Published July 01, 2012, 08:16 AM

Crookston Woman Complains of 'Hate Crime' in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS - A Crookston woman said she was humiliated, angry and scared when she arrived at her car Wednesday afternoon near Grand Forks’ University Park to see a threatening gay slur written on the back window.

By: Chris Bieri, Forum Communications

GRAND FORKS - A Crookston woman said she was humiliated, angry and scared when she arrived at her car Wednesday afternoon near Grand Forks’ University Park to see a threatening gay slur written on the back window.

Nicole Wagner, 26, finished teaching a class at UND Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. when she found the vandalism, which also included crossing out two rainbow stickers above the back bumper of the vehicle.

She said she drove the back roads back to Crookston and removed the slur with razor blades and paint remover.

Police said they canvassed the area and interviewed a few people, but no one reported seeing anything suspicious.

Wagner finds it hard to believe that no one saw anything and posted a picture of the marked car on her Facebook page in the hopes of stirring up some leads.

“Somebody had to see something,” she said. “It’s broad daylight.”

Hate crime law?

Wagner believes the situation would be handled differently if it had been a racial slur and feels there is a need in North Dakota for a hate crime law.

“There aren’t any hate crimes in North Dakota apparently because there are no hate crime laws,” she said. “Everything gets filed under criminal mischief. It seems kind of crazy to put it in the same category.”

North Dakota legislators voted down a bill in spring 2011 that would have allowed for enhanced penalties for violations viewed as hate crimes.

Wagner, who says she has been the victim of gay slurs before, said she feels threatened and the next step may be a physical attack, but doesn’t feel it was directed at her specifically.

“I don’t feel it’s a personal attack to me because I’m not a gay male,” she said. “It was just extreme homophobia. To go from having those thoughts and going to doing that, where does it go from there? What if they had waited for me to come out to my vehicle? It’s scary to think about.”

Police said they haven’t had similar incidents recently and that it is being followed up on appropriately.

They asked that anyone with information on the vandalism call (701) 787-8000. Tipsters who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (701) 746-1000.

Bieri writes for the Grand Forks Herald, owned by Forum Communications, which also owns WDAZ

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