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Visitors always talk about how friendly West Virginians are to strangers. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” are advice most West Virginians follow. So, it was particularly sad to read about a young woman at the Huntington Mall who made a false accusation to police against a visitor to our state.
She claimed a man had grabbed her daughter by the hair and tried to drag her away. She told police that she pulled a gun from her purse and he ran away.
It turned out she had made up the story. Police said the man in question, an Egyptian engineer who was in WV on a job, were seen on surveillance cameras calmly leaving the store within a few minutes of each other. There was no evidence he had talked to the woman or her child. Yet he was quick to thank police for discovering the truth and releasing him without charges.
Every mother has reason to want to protect her child. But reacting in fear or hatred toward people who look different and wanting them locked up for no reason does not fit our West Virginia values of being kind and helpful to strangers.
West Virginia has been losing population for decades. When people come here to work, regardless of where they are coming from, we welcome their contributions and hope they stay to make West Virginia their home. People have been coming to West Virginia from around the country and around the world to make their homes, to work, and to raise their families since the mid-1700’s.
We have always helped our neighbors and welcomed strangers. We shouldn’t stop now.