COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (KMSP) - A police investigation is underway after someone stole hundreds of medals from a youth soccer tournament and left a note with a racial slur.
Organizers of the Runnin' With the Wolves’ Soccer Tournament in Cottage Grove discovered the theft Saturday morning as the event was getting underway. They were even more disturbed by the note that was left behind.
“It said these are my medals, you f-word, n-word,” said Beth Lindbloom, director of the tournament. “To me, that’s a hate crime. And it’s not a personal hate crime to me but I take it as a hate crime to these kids. It’s a kids event, this is why we’re here.”
This year’s tournament features 70 teams from Minnesota and Wisconsin, who continued to play despite the incident.
“The participants, the coaches, the managers that are here at our tournament, they’ve all been amazing. They all understand,” said Randy Lynch, president of the Cottage Grove United Soccer Club. “My goal is that we’re able to find these things and be able to mail them out and say thanks for being patient.”
Cottage Grove police confirmed that they're investigating the incident. Lynch said surveillance cameras at the park could provide assistance to investigators trying to solve the case.
Parents said they are disappointed by the incident--but are still happy to let their children participate in the tournament.
“If we don't go home with a medal, I go home with kids who know that vandalism is wrong, and know that racially motivated slurs are wrong,” said Dave Blumberg, who had two children take part in the tournament. “I'm just glad I have kids that know that.”
The medals are worth roughly $2,100, so the alleged thieves could face jail time if caught.