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Husband of woman hit by rock speaks out

The husband of the 62-year-old woman injured by a rock thrown during the Third of July Parade said contentious messages should not be allowed in local parades.

Hispanic teenage boys beamed rocks at a sign in the parade that read, “Illegal immigrants cost jobs, hospitals and courts.” One rock missed the sign and hit her in the chin. The parade entry came from the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction. The parade committee did not know what the entry would say before the parade began.

“I hope they would disallow anything they would interpret as inflammatory regardless of the subject,” said the man, who asked for anonymity because he and his wife fear retribution by the coalition and by the families of the boys throwing rocks.

The parade committee, which comprises six local citizens, has the freedom to choose entries and can disallow an entry based on its content.

“A commitment by the parade organizing committee is also called for to not allow an entry of that sort in future parades,” the man said.

His wife is recovering well, he said. The rock hit her chin, ricocheted off and struck her collarbone. The rock hit her so hard it broke in two, he said.

The man said the rock didn’t sail down on a lofty arch. He said it came straight at his wife.

“It was like it was pitched from the other side the street,” he said.

She was taken by ambulance to Albert Lea Medical Center, where she was treated and released. He said she now has several loose teeth, major bruising and a scar on her chin.

The Third of July Parade happened Thursday, and a story in the Tribune on Friday mentioned that a woman was hit by a rock. It appears in the background at one point in an online Tribune video, too.

More information emerged Monday, and a story printed in the Albert Lea Tribune on Tuesday on the rock incident told how the parade committee intended to review its policies. The story had comments from Paul Westrum, founder of the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction. The story was posted online Tuesday morning at AlbertLeaTribune.com. A day later, it has drawn about 60 posts from readers.

In the story, Westrum said he wanted the sign to appear in next year’s parade. He added he might go to court if his coalition wasn’t allowed in the 2009 parade.

The man whose wife was injured said Westrum would “have a fight on his hands that you will wish never happened.” He thanked the people who posted comments and wrote letters to the editor opposing the coalition’s entry.

Lt. J.D. Carlson of the Albert Lea Police Department responded to the rock throwing at the parade last Thursday. He said Tuesday the boys tried to flee from police. Five were taken to the Law Enforcement Center at the Freeborn County Government Center. One was cited with disorderly conduct. They were released to their parents. The Freeborn County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the police report.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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