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More step up to help beating victim

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

More people are pitching in to help defray medical expenses for Willie Navy, the 53-year-old Brainerd man brutally beaten Feb. 6 in downtown Brainerd. 

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Navy was assaulted after he left a bar, suffering severe injuries to his left eye socket. Two men have been arrested and charged with several counts of assault, including felony first-degree assault and gross misdemeanor fourth-degree assault motivated by bias. 

Maggie Fuller of Brainerd  on Thursday set up the Brainerd Citizens Against Violence Fund at Wells Fargo Bank. She facilitated the fund, she said, because Navy shouldn’t have the burden of medical expenses.

“It’s disturbing that this happened to anyone. I just can’t cope with that,” Fuller said. “This fund is saying what I want to say personally. ... I felt horrible that this happened to one of our citizens. I think we should stand against violence. In my mind this is not about racism, it’s about violence.”

The fund will be paid directly to any service that provides treatment to Navy, whether it’s Essentia Health’s St. Joseph’s Medical Center, where Navy was first treated, or any other facility. 

Funds may be sent to Wells Fargo Bank, P.O. Box 1204, Brainerd, MN, 56401 or directed from accounts at any bank, Fuller said. Donations can be designated specifically to Navy and if there’s excess after his medical costs are paid, Fuller said the remainder would go to Navy. If someone wishes to make a general donation to the fund, the excess would be donated to an anti-violence organization such as the Brainerd Women’s Shelter. 

On Feb. 27, Paul Bunyan Bowl in Baxter will host the Bowl Down Racism fundraiser for Navy. Owner Mike McFarland, who attended Tuesday’s Crow Wing Citizens Stand Against Racism rally in honor of Navy at the Crow Wing County Judicial Center, said it was “despicable” that such a violent act could still happen. 

“I think that that kind of behavior is bred from ignorance, not being around other cultures and things like that,” McFarland said. “This is all about what we can do to create awareness.”

McFarland said he doesn’t know Navy but was touched by the show of support at the rally. 

“We’re in a position to not only raise awareness about racism but to help him out with his bills,” McFarland said. “It’s terrible to see what some people are capable of doing. If I can do something to help out, maybe we can get one or two of these guys or girls who just aren’t well informed, maybe we can change their minds, maybe we can stop something like this from happening again.”

The Bowl Down Racism fundraiser will start with family bowling at 6:30 p.m., followed by adult bowling ages 18 and older at 9 p.m. McFarland said a DJ will play music during the 9 p.m. event. Donations also will be taken during the event. 

McFarland said 100 percent of the proceeds from the Feb. 27 Bowl Down Racism fundraiser will go to Navy. 

The efforts to help Navy cover his medical costs started Tuesday with Charlie Johnson, owner of Jimmy’s Pizza in northeast Brainerd, pledging a portion of that days sales to Navy to help with medical costs. 

Johnson said his total sales were about $2,800. However, he was waiting for mail donations and donations left at the door to be counted before he knows exactly how much was raised for Navy. Johnson had previously said he’d be donating between 20 percent to 30 percent of his sales, plus whatever is donated separately. 

“It wasn’t a big deal but we busted our tails yesterday and we hope Willie appreciates it,” Johnson said. “I think the community appreciates seeing people put an effort into something like this. It promotes good will to everybody around the community. That’s the reason I did it. It felt like the right thing to do.”

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at matt.erickson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5857.

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