Three militia members accused of plotting to bomb a mosque and apartment complex in southwest Kansas go on trial Tuesday in Wichita.
Their alleged plot laid bare tiny pockets of the ugliest, potentially violent, racism in a region that’s seen immigrants drawn to tough meatpacking jobs for decades.
The raw hate exposed in the alleged plan shocked some of the refugees who were targeted, reminding them of violence they fled in Somalia and sparking an exodus from one of the prairie towns.
It also prompted more people to talk with admiration of the workforce that keeps the meatpacking industry, and the region’s economy, alive. They’ve reached out to the would-be targets of domestic terrorism.
“We all give each other a chance here,” says LeVita Rohlman, who directs the Catholic Agency for Migration and Refugee Services in Garden City. “Even when things go wrong. I believe that this community stands united.”
The plot took root near Dodge City, at the easternmost point of a the Kansas meatpacking triangle formed with Liberal and Dodge City. All three Great Plains cities have for generations drawn immigrants for the smelly, dangerous work of transforming cattle into steaks and hamburger. It’s work that few U.S.-born Americans take on.