a step towards healing a rift?

For St. Paul crime victim, an apology accepted

Edwin Daniel looks at the scars on his head every morning and says he can’t forget, but he accepted the apologies extended to him Tuesday.

Daniel, after acting as a good Samaritan, was beaten by young men wielding baseball bats at a downtown St. Paul gas station in May. His skull was fractured in five places, and he has lasting side effects from the injuries.

The apologies came multiple times Tuesday at a healing ceremony between the Somali and African-American communities.

The four defendants in the case are Somali, and Daniel is African-American. Omar Jamal, first secretary to Somalia’s ambassador to the United Nations, approached the African-American community about having the ceremony.

Daniel, sitting with a panel of community leaders at the Golden Thyme Coffee Cafe on St. Paul’s Selby Avenue, addressed about 20 people in the audience, many Somali elders.

“As far as being angry at a whole race of people, I can’t do that because I’ll be a bitter old man,” said Daniel, 40, of St. Paul. “Every race has clowns and idiots.”

Although Jamal said he did not believe the crime was motivated by race or nationality, he said Somalis believe what happened reflected negatively on their community.

“They felt bad about what happened,” he said. “They really wanted to look him in the eye and tell him, ‘We’re sorry.’ ”

The Rev. Devin Miller, a member of the God Squad organization, said the apologies are “really a testimony to their culture, to their belief

that when someone does wrong, it affects all of us.”A few days before the assault, Daniel defended a female clerk who was being harassed by a group of men at the downtown SuperAmerica convenience store.

Daniel regularly visited the gas station at 296 E. Seventh St. to fuel his vehicle, an airport shuttle for a downtown hotel. On May 25, the same men confronted Daniel at the station, beating him with baseball bats.

Daniel was hospitalized for more than a week. His senses of smell andtaste are “still messed up,” his headaches persist and his front teeth continue to hurt (he was hit in the mouth with a bat), Daniel said. He’s returned to work part time.

The four men charged have pleaded guilty. Three are locked up — one was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison and two are in jail, awaiting sentencing. One man, who was sentenced to six months, has already served his time.

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