This. Amber Elizabeth Hensley of Fargo North Dakota, shining example of what doesn't make America great. Go live on a Trump golf course. pic.twitter.com/uPOoIkoIvz— OhMo (@OhMo) July 26, 2017
UPDATE: After a video showing Amber Hensley attacking Somali-American Muslims in a Walmart parking lot went viral, things took an unexpected turn.
Just a few days after the incident was recorded and shared online, Sarah Hassan and Hensley came together to work on their differences, showing the country that the best antidote to hate is still understanding.
After the incident was caught on video and the Muslim girls reported the occurrence to the police, Fargo Police Chief David Todd asked the women to meet at the police department.
On Thursday, July 27, Hassan and her younger sister, Leyla, finally met Hensley face to face. And in what appeared to be a moment of honest heart-to-heart exchange, the women were able to talk about how terrible they felt about what had happened.
“We started talking and [Hensley] was like really, really sad, and then she told us she regrets everything she said to us,” Hassan told reporters.
Seeing how genuine Hensley was about her regrets, Hassan decided to drop all charges against the Fargo accountant, telling reporters she's even going to help Hensley get her job back.
“I’m going to her place of work tomorrow. I’m going to do my best to have her get her job back,” she said.
The women felt such connection after they met that they even decided to join in celebration in September, when both women celebrate their birthdays. To Hassan, this is an opportunity to show the world that no matter how different people may be, they still can come together and put their differences aside.
“You feel good from inside,” she said. “I know it went viral and everyone was talking about it, so we just want to be a good example for everybody now.”
In a Facebook post sharing the image of the Hassan sisters and Hensley, Chief Todd said that while the Walmart incident “shows we have some things to work on as a community and as individuals,” he also warned that the comments on social media that followed may lead to further division.
“We are all a little different and that is okay, in fact it’s good — if we strive to understand each other, accept each other and respect each other. If we do that, our diversity can make us stronger as a community,” Todd wrote.
Hensley, whose father was killed in Iraq, told the girls her story while the Hassan sisters showed Hensley photos of their culture, even letting their new friend see how they look without the scarves. At that moment, the women came to understand each other, helping them to also put an end to any feeling of animosity between them.
As Todd wrote, this is the example we should be setting whenever these incidents take place.
After all, words may never be forgotten, but forgiveness is something we can all achieve.
I am told she was just fired from her job. https://t.co/74QeQu7oRX— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) July 26, 2017
Amber Elizabeth Hensley, a Mapleton, North Dakota, woman, was caught on cellphone video July 25 threatening the Muslim women and telling them she would kill them. She also told the women to “go home.”
“We're gonna kill all of ya. We're gonna kill every one of ya,” Hensley tells 21-year-old Sarah Hassan, who was sitting in the passenger seat, recording the entire ordeal.
Hassan was in the car with her sister, Leyla, 20, and friend, Rowda Soyan, 23. The three women, who are originally from Somalia, all live in Fargo. They had been shopping at Walmart when they parked the car next to the woman who harassed them.
“I wanted everyone to see what happens to us every day," Hassan said, explaining why she filmed Hensley. "I was so scared."
At 5:30 p.m. that day, the three women called the police and showed them the video along with Hensley's license plate number. They also filed a report. The video was later shared with Hukun Dabar, executive director of the Fargo-Moohead nonprofit Afro American Development Association.
Acording to Dabar, “you don't see any leaders from Fargo confronting this issue and saying it's not acceptable in our community.”
“They need to speak about this issue and have it be at the forefront," he added.
Hensley's employers at the Fargo accounting firm Horab and Wentz told reporters that “[w]henever [Hensley] gets here, she will be let go.”
Ever sine the incident became public, an unidentified partner at the accounting firm told reporters their phone didn't stop ringing.
“We’re the ones getting the brunt of this. No one else is,” he added. “Her views are not ours.”
After the incident, Hensley wrote about her behavior on Facebook and apologized for what she had done, West Fargo Pioneer reported.
“It was not a Christian like thing to do AT ALL and wish I could take it back, but I lost my cool and I can't. I am terribly sorry. I just wish that the whole video could be shown. And the things that were stated before she starts taping. She had parked way too close to my car and I couldn't get in, when I asked her to move she refused, I asked her again and she swore at me calling me a fat b*tch.
But there are absolutely no excuses. I am in tears with regret and will take any form of punishment deemed fit.”
This isn't the first time Somali-Americans have been confronted in public in Fargo.
A man of Somali origin was assaulted on July 2 when moving into an apartment by two white men who were later arrested and charged with simple assault. They allegedly told the man, “[w]hat are these n****** doing here?”
At the time, the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) urged state and federal officials to look into the incident as a “possible hate crime.”
While we're glad that the incident did not result in any physical aggression, we hope that officials are able to investigate further.
Communities must come closer together not further apart when similar displays of hate are reported. We'll only be able to teach biased people their rhetoric won't bring us apart by showing them we're not afraid and acting accordingly.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Chris Keane