Minneapolis City Worker Tells Woman to 'Go Back to the Country You Came From'

March 22, 2018 10:58 PM

A Minneapolis woman said she went to the Minneapolis City Attorney's office for legal help, but wound up leaving insulted and offended after speaking with a female worker there.

"I was mad," Hirut May said. "She said, 'If you don't like it here, you should go back to the country you came from.' And I did tell her I'm not going anywhere. I'm staying here because I have kids."


May said she was born and raised in Ethiopia and moved to Minneapolis about 20 years ago. She later returned to the office and asked to speak with the same employee again.

But this time she recorded the conversation on her cell phone.

During the video, you can hear May repeat what the worker said. The city employee acknowledges saying it and apologizes. 

But the female employee - who has not been identified - goes on to say, "We get a lot of immigrants here and they want to cuss out everything and they're not being treated fairly, and it's like - you're in the best country in the world."

The worker can also be heard saying immigrants arrive and demand free healthcare and other assistance. 

May said the sweeping generalizations were hurtful to her.

"I don't want her to repeat it for other women, or other people," May said.

May showed video of the conversation to Minneapolis Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon.

"There were gross over-generalizations," he said. "That's absolutely not the kind of comment that we want to have made for anyone who comes to talk to the city."

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS took the video to the city attorney. 

"Certainly we will deal with this individual situation," City Attorney Susan Segal said. "We have done training already, and we will continue to do that to make sure something like this does not happen again."

Segal said the employee involved is a member of the office's support staff who doesn't usually interact with the public.

Like all city employees, Segal said she would have completed required "implicit bias" training.

Segal would not say whether the employee will be disciplined or fired.

"Just know that we will respond appropriately to this situation," Segal said.

The city of Minneapolis also has an established process to file a complaint of discrimination with the Department of Civil Rights.



Matt Belanger

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