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Aberdeen Stupidity Young and and Old: Puppy Thief and Xenophobic Letter Writer

Officer Bruce, Poppy, and family. Photo from CityPages.
Officer Bruce, Poppy, and family. Photo from CityPages.

This story belongs in the young-and-stupid department. But since the perp has a Muslim name, it will probably end up in the Americans First, Task Force xenophobia department.

Police have arrested Hassan Mohamoud Yusuf, 18, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, for first-degree burglary, criminal entry of a motor vehicle, forgery, and identity theft. The alleged crime: stealing a four-month-old German shepherd puppy named Poppy from a cop with a brain tumor and three little kids and then (not among the charges, but icing on the cake of stupid, selfish cruelty) abandoning the stolen dog on the streets of Minneapolis.

Yusuf’s mom lives in Aberdeen. If Yusuf is guilty, let’s hope she gives him an even bigger whoopin’ than the law can dish out.

*     *     *

I work with enough teenagers to recognize a crime like Yusuf’s as immature stupidity, not justification for cultural warfare. But then I open my morning paper and find this appalling letter from an Aberdeen neighbor who thinks people from different cultures are worse than inmates in the penitentiary:

I went to the ABBY Awards, and I want to compliment the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce for a great job. Things were great until the mayor started talking about how great Aberdonians are for accepting people of other cultures to Aberdeen.

Maybe I am the only one that thinks drive-by shootings, people being shot and stabbed on the streets and a satellite police station are things that Aberdeen doesn’t need. There is no way to vet these people and I think the answer is to get a couple of buses and send them to the penitentiary, and bring those people to Aberdeen — we know them [Patrick McHugh, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2017.10.12].

Puppy thieves and racist letter writers—both embarrassments to our fair city.


  1. Scott 2017-10-12 08:25

    Who vetted the imates in the pen?

  2. Jenny 2017-10-12 11:58

    As if there is no one that hasn’t done anything stupid when they’re young…
    It’s okay when people like McHugh get nice farm welfare checks from the gubmint though.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-12 12:28

    Scott, I’m not even sure exactly what McHugh is saying there. But Jenny, yes, when we were all young and stupid, we were all young and stupid. McHugh is an old guy—he should know better than to be such an embarrassment to our community.

  4. Roger Cornelius 2017-10-12 13:47

    Speaking of young and stupid students, Meade County High School students smashed up a car and spray painted it with the message “Go Back to the Rez” as part of their homecoming ritual for their football game against Pine Ridge on Friday.
    The schools administrators responded quickly and promised a police investigation of the incident condemning the actions of their students.
    At least the school didn’t offer prayers and thoughts but it makes me wonder if prayers will be enough to change this kind of behavior in South Dakota.

  5. mike from iowa 2017-10-12 15:29

    Stealing and abandoning a puppy is not an act of terrorism-regardless of who does it. Neither is the indiscriminate slaughter of 5 dozen Americans with another40 plus dozens injured-especially if the terrorist is white.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-12 19:23

    If someone steals my dog and then abandons him in Minneapolis, you’re going to have to hold me back.

    But your point is well-taken, Mike.

  7. Ryan 2017-10-13 15:00

    I think the school probably did the right thing from a public relations standpoint, but to most of the students at the high school, I bet it feels like the administration committed a war crime for all the innocent people being punished by the cancellation of all the events due to the actions of just a few.

    I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this next bit of monologue, but it’s tricky these days to be a braggart because everyone is so quick to incorrectly assume that the braggart is aware of the consequences of his actions or cares about the supposed victim. I don’t think most of these kids were really being racist – I think they were attempting to show their hometown pride and got carried away like kids do. Think about this: if they were playing a team from Yankton, and they painted on the car “Go back to Yankton!” would anybody feel like that was anything other than teenage braggadocio? High school sports pit undeveloped minds contained in developed bodies against their peers in aggressive physical contests, and then we expect them to do so gracefully, without ego, and without “putting down” anybody. I think that is probably an unrealistic expectation.

    Now again, I want to be clear that I think the administration did the right thing based on their options. I think the painted swastika shows somebody had racist thoughts, so the “go back to the rez” definitely looks bad in light of that. I just think people should give kids a little more slack on the use of their prefrontal cortex.

    I have brought this up before – why don’t we let kids sign contracts? They lack the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. Why don’t we let kids consent to adult behaviors? Same reason. I don’t condone violent or racist actions by kids one bit, but we have to expect those flaws just like kids skipping school, missing homework, acting out, abusing drugs or alcohol, and many other lapses in judgment. Pretending that kids should understand racism better than their other actions just because adults take it more seriously than most other social issues is short sighted.

    Some response is necessary as a teaching moment, however, and the administration’s response might go further than I would have done, but at least they recognize that ignoring this would not have been the right move.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2017-10-13 15:54

    The Sturgis High School made the right decision by cancelling the homecoming events. Many have complained that a few bad apples ruined the whole event, but it is those bad apples that can escalate already racial tensions that can lead to violence. My greatest concern of all this was for the safety of the Pine Ridge team and their supporters. I don’t know where you live, Ryan, but in the Rapid City and reservations areas tensions were running very high with a real potential for violence.
    Any Indian that lives on the reservation and visits a South Dakota cities and towns knows precisely what “go back to the rez” means. You can say ‘go back to Yankton’ or elsewhere, but there is no racial context in that statement.
    From what I understand, the students involved in this incident were mostly high schools seniors and therefore not kids, they were young adults. When I hear adults saying “oh, their just kids acting out”, I hear adult enablers providing excuses for young adults committing these racist acts.
    It would have been great if one or two students had the courage to come forward and to say, “don’t do this, stop this now”.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-10-13 18:35

    Ryan, I don’t think it is unrealistic to expect young people to learn to control their aggression and “expect them to do so gracefully, without ego, and without ‘putting down’ anybody. I know debate and football are worlds apart, but I’ve seen intense competitors in debate contests learn to go all out in rounds without using racial epithets or other personal putdowns. Learning and internalizing such grace and respect are exactly why we offer kids extracurricular activities.

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