DUBUQUE (AP) — City officials are calling for calm and compassion after a fatal stabbing last weekend that allegedly involved a white victim and a black suspect.

The stabbing of 24-year-old Nick Blackburn, of Dubuque, promoted an emergency meeting of the local NAACP chapter. Officials said it has also spurred tense conversations on issues of justice and other emotionally charged subjects.

Kenyatta Harlston, 39, of Clinton, is charged with the stabbing, which happened last Saturday.

The Dubuque Community School District superintendent John Burgart said because the victim is white and the alleged suspect black, the situation “does raise the possibility of increasing racial tension in our community, which could then carry over into our schools.”

“Such tension is likely to be escalated by the spreading of irresponsible and ugly rumors regarding retaliation or threats directed at individuals or groups of persons,” he said. “As a school system, we denounce any hateful or demeaning statement or act which creates fear on the part of any individual in our schools or community.”

The city of Dubuque sent a statement out on Thursday extending “its most sincere thoughts and prayers to the family in their time of sorrow.”

City officials also called for residents to help cool community tensions.

“First, no violence. One person has died and another is awaiting trial. This alone is tragedy enough in our community,” the statement said. “Second, no racist rhetoric and behavior. Third, no retaliation, whether in response to the murder or in response to the use of racist language or behavior.

“We must work through this without further injury or loss of life,” said the statement, which was signed by Mayor Roy Buol and members of the Dubuque City Council.

University of Dubuque President Jeffrey Bullock had a different view of the incident and community response.

“The fact that the two men directly involved ... were from different cultural backgrounds has made it easy for some in the city to suggest that this was caused by racial tensions. That is too easy an answer,” Bullock said in a statement.

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