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Local/state briefs

Apply soon to compete in Speaking Proudly

Applications to compete in Speaking Proudly 2021 will be accepted between Aug. 1 and Sept. 11, the oratory competition’s organizers announced today. An application form and complete instructions are available at speakingproudly.org/students.

The event will be Saturday, Oct. 23, at the State Capitol in St. Paul. According to competition spokeswoman Sherie Wallace, 25 girls will be selected to compete, based on the quality of the speech descriptions they submit. All speeches must consider the topic, “A More Perfect Union,” Rising to the Challenge. The three finalists will win prizes of $1,500, $1,000 and $500.

“We had first-rate competitors at the first Speaking Proudly in 2019,” Wallace said, “and we’re looking forward to the same this year.” She stressed that the application deadline is “absolutely final, no extensions allowed.”

A project of Metro Republican Women, the biennial competition is open to girls in grades nine through 12 who reside or attend school in Minnesota. The girls can be from any type of school: homeschool, public, private, charter or other school. This is a non-profit and non-partisan event.

Man charged with killing officer on reservation in Minnesota

RED LAKE (AP) — A man was charged Wednesday in the killing of a Red Lake Nation police officer who was fatally shot while responding to a call to a residence on the tribe’s reservation in northwestern Minnesota.

David Donnell Jr., 28, of Redby, was charged in federal court with one count of second-degree murder and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon in the death of Officer Ryan Bialke.

The 37-year-old Bialke was killed Tuesday after he went to Donnell’s home on a report of a suicidal male with children possibly in the residence, according to the Red Lake Department of Public Safety. Federal authorities say Donnell was standing on the porch when officers arrived, then went inside the house.

Because Donnell refused to comply with orders from the officers and had an active warrant, police broke down the front door, Department of Justice officials said. That’s when Donnell began firing. Bialke was struck by gunfire and died at the scene, officials said.

Donnell fled and was taken into custody at a nearby residence a short time later, authorities said. Court documents do not list an attorney for Donnell.

The tribe said Bialke was a six-year veteran of the Red Lake Police Department. He is survived by his wife and four children.

His ex-wife, Andrea Bialke, of Hanover, described her former husband as a happy and generous soul who lived to help others.

“Ryan had a big heart and he was always laughing and smiling, and he was a great dad to our three children,” she told the Star Tribune. “He just loved helping everybody.

“If there was someone on the side of the road that needed help with their vehicle, he would stop and help. He was just that kind of guy,” she said.

It was Ryan Bialke’s desire to help others that led him to police work, Andrea Bialke said. He graduated from Rasmussen College and the couple moved to Bemidji when he landed the job in Red Lake. He was not a member of the tribe, she said.

Bialke, who is identified on the Red Lake Nation website as a conservation enforcement officer, was one of 38 sworn law enforcement officers serving Red Lake.

The Red Lake Reservation is in northwest Minnesota, about 160 milesf rom the Canadian border. It covers about 1,260 square miles and is home to about half of the tribe’s 14,000 members.

Family of boy thrown from Mall of America balcony files suit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The family of a boy who was thrown off a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in April 2019 has filed a lawsuit accusing the mall of failing to provide proper security.

The complaint filed Tuesday says the mall and its security detail knew about the previous “violent, aggressive, and erratic” behavior displayed at the shopping center by the boy’s attacker, Emmanuel Aranda. Security should have have prevented Aranda from “prowling” at the building without an officer following him closely, the suit said. Aranda was allegedly banned from the mall twice in previous years.

The boy, identified only as Landen, was 5 years old when he was thrown nearly 40 feet to the ground by Aranda, who was sentenced to 19 years in prison for attempted first-degree murder. Aranda told investigators he went to the Bloomington, Minnesota, mall “looking for someone to kill” after women had rejected his advances.

The suit seeks unspecified damages. Mark Briol, an attorney for the family, said that while the child has made remarkable progress, the family has incurred more than $1.7 million in medical expenses and faces “ongoing medical and health challenges.”

Mall officials said in a release that such suits are not unexpected and they will try to find a resolution for all parities.

“From the day that this tragic event happened, our concern has been focused on Landen and his well-being,” the statement said. “We are thankful for his ongoing and continued recovery. We can’t imagine how traumatic this ordeal has been for Landen, his family, and friends.”

South Dakota governor lifts mask requirement in prisons

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Staff and inmates at South Dakota prisons are no longer required to wear masks following an order from Gov. Kristi Noem lifting the requirement.

The Republican governor’s move, made after a meeting with prison staff Friday, comes as virus cases have seen a recent uptick and defies a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that masks still be worn in facilities like prisons where large numbers of people are in close proximity to each other. Among neighboring states, South Dakota is the only one to lift a mask requirement in prisons, the Argus Leader reported

Noem’s move was spurred by a meeting she had with employees at the state penitentiary in Sioux Falls. They cheered when she told them they could remove their masks. The governor was at the prison to respond to an ongoing human resources investigation into complaints of low employee morale, shorthanded prison staff and insufficient tactical gear for corrections officers.

Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury told the Argus Leader the governor would have made the move even sooner if she was aware of the Department of Corrections policy. He said it was “common sense” given the rate of virus cases and would help boost employee morale.

But cases are on the rise in South Dakota after dropping during the spring and early summer. The Department of Health reported 269 new infections statewide over the last seven days.

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