Police are investigating an assault caught on video outside of a Twin Cities Cub Foods involving an associate of a nonprofit called We Push for Peace.
The incident happened Thursday evening at the Cub Foods on 1177 Clarence Street, the St. Paul Police Department told Bring Me The News. A portion of the attack was caught on video and posted to Facebook, then reshared by St. Paul City Councilmember Dai Thao.
When the video starts, a man in a red T-shirt with the We Push for Peace logo can be seen holding another man up against the wall, punching him repeatedly and at one point kicking him in the head.
The attacker then throws the victim to the parking lot ground and says he "shouldn't have put his hands on me." When the victim goes to pick up his backpack, the attacker throws him to the ground again.
"Anyone know anything about this "Peace" group?" Thao wrote when sharing the video. "The homeless guy getting his face turn into a punching bag. This is straight battery and assault."
St. Paul police said they were called to the Cub around 9 a.m. Friday, and spoke to a 31-year-old who said he had been attacked Thursday evening by a security guard for the grocery store. (Officers were not called when the attack occurred.) The man had "visible injuries to his face" and was taken to the hospital, though was not suffering from serious injuries, police said.
The founder and CEO of We Push for Peace, Trahern Pollard, put out a statement Friday saying the man in the red shirt in the video was an associate with the nonprofit. But the group immediately cut ties with him when Pollard and others learned about the incident.
While the man in the red shirt "was assaulted first, that is not what my organization stands for or will tolerate," Pollard wrote. He continued:
"Please understand that this incident was not about race and it is not in any way, shape, or form, what my organization represents. We love our communities in which we serve and the diverse network of people and neighborhoods that make up our communities and partnerships. These incidents will not be tolerated by me, regardless of the underlying actions leading up and I have a no tolerance policy in place for any actions that go against what We Push For Peace stands for and represents.
We Push for Peace offers a variety of community services, and on its website touts community engagement contracts with eight Cub Foods and Whole Foods in the Twin Cities. The goal nonprofit's contractors hired in this capacity are "engaging with shoppers, reducing crime, and building relationships between the stores and the neighborhoods," the website says.
Pollard, in his Friday statement, said the Thursday's fight "does not represent who Cub Foods is and what they mean to the community," saying they, like himself, are "embarrassed" it happened.
Police called the video "very disturbing to watch," and said they are "committed to a thorough investigation," though no arrests have been made as of Friday afternoon.