ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — Safia Abdullahi said she has dealt with racism time and time again, each time brushing it off. But it crossed a line when a Subway employee threatened her with a knife in front of her children, she said.
Abdullahi reported the incident to Rochester police on Aug. 11, saying she was at the Subway inside of Walmart North with a friend and 11 children, when the employee became aggressive, making her concerned for their safety.
As tensions escalated, Abdullahi said 33-year-old Andrew Benning attempted to approach her from behind the counter, knife in hand, while yelling racial and anti-Muslim slurs, including telling her to go back to her country.
Abdullahi is a U.S. citizen, as are her seven children, all born in the U.S.
Abdullahi said she asked to speak to a manager, but was unsuccessful.
“He said, ‘my manager does not talk to trash like you,'” Abdullahi said.
According to a police report, three witnesses said they saw and heard Benning direct the slurs at Mrs. Abdullahi.
“My kids are even asking me, ‘why is he saying that? Muslims are bad people?’ I said, ‘no Muslim is not, we are Muslim,'” Abdullahi said.
She said she never thought she would go through this with her children, adding that she came to the U.S. from Ethiopia to live a better life.
The employee was cited for disorderly conduct in connection to the incident, but Abdullahi said more needs to be done.
“Today they let him go, tomorrow what is he going to do?” she said.
Abdullahi is also demanding an apology for Benning’s actions.
“People can make mistakes and they can make right too,” she said.
As of Thursday, Benning still works at the Subway. When asked about the incident, he said he “did not intend to be racist” and would not comment further.
As of writing this story, the owner and manager of the Subway have not returned calls for comment.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations is probing the incident.