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Man arrested in Minneapolis for vandalism spree against East African businesses

At least six Minneapolis storefronts were targeted by the rock-throwing vandal in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At least six Minneapolis storefronts were targeted by the rock-throwing vandal in the early hours of Wednesday morning. KSTP

Somali gangs didn't jump anyone in downtown Minneapolis. 

Ilhan Omar didn't dance on the wrong day.

Actually in the most noteworthy local news story this week actually involing East African immigrants, they're the victims.

Huh. Wonder why.

Harlin St. John, 36, was arrested in Minneapolis yesterday by Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies who recognized him from surveillance images, the Star Tribune reports. He's suspected of committing a series of property crimes along Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood, famous for its population of Somali, Ethiopian, and Eritrean immigrants and refugees.

St. John, who was arrested at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, is in police custody but has not been charged.

Video from that block around 3 a.m. Wednesday shows a man pitching rocks, baseball style and point-blank, at numerous storefront windows. The same guy targeted at least a half-dozen businesses and, according to reporter Faiza Mahamud, managed to spare a white-owned dry cleaning business.

Capital Cafe owner Abdrirahman Awad told the Star Tribune replacing his window would run $5,400. A halal market, a pizza place, and a printing/faxing/shipping store were also hit during a spree that lasted at least half an hour. 

Awad told MPR News' Sahan Journal he'd lost "half his business" since the vandalism, and was worried his store could be robbed before he gets it fixed. "The scariest thing is, what should I do tonight?" he asked.

Minneapolis Police spokesman John Elder says the department is investigating whether the crimes were racially motivated.

A search of Minnesota  court records indicates Harlin St. John has no criminal record in this state.