BRAINERD, Minn. (WCCO) — Young and old, black and white — people from all walks of life gathered outside the Crow Wing County Courthouse to take a common stand. A single sign voiced a clear message, which read, “The thing to hate is hate!”
Retiree Shelly Green drove down from Breezy Point to join the crowd.
“We should be tolerant of every race. And we’re a blended society and there’s no excuse for this,” she said.
Green, along with dozens of others in the crowd, is angered by the vicious beating on Feb. 6 of Willie Navy on a downtown Brainerd sidewalk. Police later arrested and charged 29-year-old Travis Campbell of Pequot Lakes and 27-year-old Lucas Eastwood of Backus.
According to the criminal complaint, Eastwood told others inside Yesterday’s Gone bar that he wanted to assault Navy because he’s black and was in the bar.
“It’s heartbreaking. What has happened to Minnesota Nice?” asked Mary Ann Maameri. She along with several others drove down from Alexandria to make their presence known at the rally.
Local resident Justin Doerfler organized the anti-hate rally as a way to show public outrage over the attack.
“But to go to that extent, absolutely not, that’s way too far. They definitely need to be held accountable,” said Doerfler.
Those participating in the peaceful rally soon moved into the second floor courtroom where the two defendants were making initial appearances. The group’s strong yet silent presence spoke loudly, although Eastwood and Campbell said not a word.
Both are charged with first- and third-degree felony assaults. An additional charge of fourth-degree assault motivated by bias was added under the state’s hate crimes statute.
While the felony assault charges are the more serious, carrying a potential prison term of up to 20 years, the added charge would tack on an additional year if convicted of acting out of hate.
Meantime, Willie Navy’s brother, Robert, attended the rally in his behalf. Moved by the public’s support, Robert Navy spoke of forgiveness in the heart — but justice in the courts.
“I don’t wish bad on nobody, but when you do something wrong like that you got to be punished for it,” said Robert Navy.
Travis Campbell and Lucas Eastwood remain jailed on $100,000 unconditional bonds and will appear in court April 12 for their omnibus hearings.