TRYING MY BEST, By Frank Erickson—St. Paul Police program profiles Somali youth

The St. Paul Pioneer Press Sunday, August 14 edition put local teen Maryan Gaafaa on the front page of the local section. It is a beautiful color photo of her bowling at Midway Pro Bowl. Above the photo is the story’s headline: “Fighting terrorism — at the bowling alley.”

How covert, how troubling, to connect to terrorism this 16-year-old girl who has done nothing wrong. Gaafaa “was among local Somali youth bowling with members of the St. Paul Police Department. “The outing last week was one component of the department’s 18-month-old African Immigrant Muslim Community Outreach Program, or AIMCOP.

I was told this program originates from Homeland Security, “fighting terrorism” with racism. I look forward to the St. Paul Police Department’s Norwegian Immigrant Community Outreach Program to keep blond blue-eyed teenagers out of trouble and from becoming the next Anders Breivik.

Let’s see how well it would go over with Minnesota Whites to see a prominent photo in the newspaper of a blond, blue-eyed child bowling under the headline “Fighting terrorism — at the bowling alley,” connecting the child to terrorism based only on race.

If I were the parent of Maryan Gaafaa, I would be outraged that they would connect my child to terrorism, to suggest that she is susceptible to becoming a violent person, even though she is an honest, nonviolent and law-abiding teenager.

This type of treatment would be unacceptable if it were done to White teenagers. The St. Paul Police Department needs to track real crime and not bother with profiling law-abiding Somali youth.

Frank Erickson lives in Minneapolis.