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Councilman Targeted in Latest Racist Incident

November 13, 1991

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) _ In an unusual twist to a string of cross burnings, the sole councilman to oppose a city plan to encourage black families to move to Dubuque apparently became the latest intimidation target early Wednesday.

Don Deich awoke shortly before 1 a.m. to find a cross-shaped fire burning on his neighbor’s lawn and a wooden cross leaning against the next-door garage, police Lt. Paula Gieseman said.

The cross had been doused with fuel and was scorched at the bottom but had not ignited.

″I don’t know what’s going on, but I have no doubt it was done deliberately,″ Deich said. ″They knew what they were doing. They just got the address wrong.″

He added, ″We need to find out who the hell is doing this and then rap their knuckles good and hard.″

There was no official explanation of the incident or the intended target.

On Tuesday, a cross was burned outside the home of a black family who had just moved from Milwaukee to the mostly white town of 58,000 in northeastern Iowa. The mother of the family said they won’t be scared away.

Before Wednesday, eight cross burnings had been reported since July. Four FBI agents are helping in the police investigation.

The city wants to bring in 100 minority families during the next five years to create a more racially mixed community. Only about 330 blacks live in Dubuque.

Mayor Jim Brady said he believes the cross burnings are related to the activities of a group known as the National Association for the Advancement of White People. That group was founded by Louisiana gubernatorial candidate David Duke, who says he disavows the cross burnings.

The Chamber of Commerce said a $5,000 reward fund was being established for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone ″committing hate- crimes in Dubuque.″

Police said no arrests have been made in this week’s burnings - five burning crosses were discovered along a street this week.

The cross burnings do not follow a particular pattern, Gieseman said. ″We’re dealing with a lot of people whose egos are being very gratified by all this attention,″ she said.

She said she could not disclose what authorities are doing to prevent future incidents. ″We’re doing everything we can possibly do,″ she said.