‘Go back to where you came from’: Somali DoorDash driver says customer attacked him

The Minnesota chapter of a national civil rights group is calling for hate crime charges after a west metro food delivery driver was allegedly attacked by a man who told him to “go back to where you came from.”
DoorDash driver Haarun Galbayte says a customer punched him on Oct. 27, 2019, three times through the car’s open window before walking away. Dymanh Chhoun | Sahan Journal

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MINNEAPOLIS — The local chapter of a national civil rights group wants hate crime charges against a man who allegedly attacked a west metro food delivery driver, telling him to “go back to where you came from.”

 

Haarun Galbayte, a Somali immigrant, said he was making a DoorDash delivery to a home on the 5000 block of St. Albans Bay Road in Shorewood, near Lake Minnetonka, midmorning on Oct. 27. After making the delivery, he said a man came out of the house and flagged him down as he prepared to drive away.

 

Haarun said as he rolled down his window the man allegedly began shouting and making anti-immigrant remarks.

 

“I said, ‘I came from Eden Prairie. I live there,’” Haarun, 49, told reporters at a press conference called by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American–Islamic Relations. “He said, ‘Eden Prairie is not your home. Go back to where you came from.’” 

 

Haarun said the man then punched him three times through the car’s open window before walking away.

 

Haarun said he stayed in the area and called the police. A neighbor who witnessed what happened came to Haarun’s aid, offering water and staying with him until the police arrived, and later giving officers a statement backing Haarun’s account, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-MN.

 

“I still am shocked by what happened to me that day,” Haarun, who has lived in Minnesota for 22 years, told reporters. 

 

He said he had never experienced an attack like this before and that he had delivered food to the same house at least three times before and even received a thank you from another person inside the house shortly before the attack. 

 

Officers with the South Lake Minnetonka Police arrested the man, identified as Michael Anderson, 54, on suspicion of fifth-degree assault. 

 

The statement from the arresting department does not mention the alleged racist nature of Anderson’s attacks, instead saying he punched Haarun because he was “dissatisfied as to where the delivery driver had left the food order.” 

 

Haarun and Jaylani praised the officers who responded but took issue with how the police department characterized the incident in its statement.

 

“This was not a simple mistaken placing of food,” Jaylani said at the press conference. “That’s not an accurate portrayal of exactly what took place here.” 

 

He called for “hate crime enhancements to be added to the charges” and urged police prosecutors to “take this case seriously.” 

 

The South Lake Minnetonka Police Department said it is still investigating.

 

A spokesperson for DoorDash told Sahan Journal Thursday night that the company has reached out to Haarun “to offer our support during his recovery” and deactivated the DoorDash account for that address.

 

“We take the safety of our entire community extremely seriously and are cooperating with local law enforcement in this investigation,” the spokesperson added.

 

“Unfortunately, we are living in a time where Muslims and immigrants are coming under attack by individuals who, for whatever reasons, are utilizing Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiments to attack individuals who are carrying about their day,” said Jaylani, recalling a 2018 incident in Atlanta where a Muslim DoorDash driver was attacked.

Joey Peters is a contributing reporter for Sahan Journal. His work has appeared in Reuters, Public Radio International, Columbia Journalism Review, KFAI Radio, the Pioneer Press, City Pages, MinnPost and more. He previously served as staff writer for the Santa Fe Reporter and senior reporter for NM Political Report, both based in New Mexico.

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