Somali-Americans journalist profiled during trial

Open Letter


To: Sharon Lubinski

United States Marshal, District of Minnesota



Dear Ms. Lubinski,

Twin Cities Black Journalists (TCBJ), the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, is deeply concerned about the treatment Minnesota Public Radio News reporter Mukhtar Ibrahim has been subjected to by security officers at the U.S. District Courthouse in Minneapolis.

As you are aware, on two separate occasions while covering the first week of the trial for three suspected ISIL recruits, Ibrahim appeared to be singled out by security officers, once while trying to enter a security checkpoint with other media and again when he was nearly removed from the courthouse.

As he has covered hearings in the case over the past year, Ibrahim, a Somali-American, said he had also consistently undergone additional security screenings to which other reporters were not subjected. He wears his press credentials. This suggests a pattern of unfair treatment based on his race and culture. That should not continue.

TCBJ and the local chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association co-signed a letter with the Minnesota Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists to denounce any unfair treatment of Ibrahim. MPR has also released a letter outlining its objections.

The TCBJ chapter has met with Ibrahim to offer our support. Regional and national leaders of NABJ have also been notified of this issue and echo our support for this journalist.

TCBJ appreciates the personal apology that you have extended to Ibrahim. In light of the context of the high-profile case that Ibrahim is covering, TCBJ urges you to take steps to ensure that similar instances do not continue to occur. We are concerned this insensitivity potentially extends beyond the incident with Ibrahim.

Despite the large Somali immigrant population in Minnesota, Ibrahim is one of a few reporters in the Twin Cities who is Somali-American. TCBJ and our parent organization strongly advocate for more inclusive newsrooms where people of color are adequately represented and treated with fairness. That fair treatment extends outside the office as they cover important issues in our communities.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We trust that you will reiterate rules and procedures to officers under your direction when it comes to dealing with members of the press.



Twin Cities Black Journalists executive board:

Maria Reeve, Star Tribune

Nicole Norfleet, Star Tribune

Jonathan Blakley, MPR

Brandi Powell, KSTP

Sheree Curry, Travel Partners

Toya Stewart-Downey, St. Paul Public Schools