Monday, August 31, 2015

What a Weekend!

Saturday started out as the protest that wasn't. The organizers of "Black Lives Matter - St Paul", an organization that reminds people about the value of minority lives and the need for equality, scheduled a protest to march up Snelling Avenue and have a rally, etc, in front of the Minnesota State Fair. Their claims? That people of color could see and hear the sounds and smell the foods but couldn't enter to experience them. There probably are events throughout the area where that would be valid, but the State Fair isn't one of them. Do black lives matter? Absolutely! And so do white lives, red lives, and all other lives including the lives of the police who usually serve selflessly to protect people of all colors. ALL lives matter.

The numbers didn't come out and the protest was no 2000 people strong. They
certainly affected my business, though. We were almost empty for much of the
day on a Saturday that should have been a strong and busy day's selling. 

So they gathered - a threatened 2000 strong that in actuality was approximately 300-400 people of mixed races - mostly white. They gathered at a park approximately 1/2 mile from my store, and walked past my store on their way to the Fair. At each major intersection they stopped and had a speech, clapped their hands and shouted slogans, then went on. They were escorted by the St Paul Police in cars as well as on bicycles, and they mucked traffic up nicely, but they were unable to force their way into the Fair and eventually, several hours later, disbanded and wandered back down Snelling toward the park once more.

The protest closed off the northbound lanes of Snelling for several hours. 

I know protests and riots from the days of my youth. I know how things can get out of hand very quickly and become dangerous. I know the State Fair (who offered them a booth at no charge inside the Fair to distribute information about Black Lives Matter to those attending the Great Minnesota Get-Together) and I know many people who attend the State Fair. To say there are no people of color is past ridiculous. The population attending the State Fair is a fair reflection of the population of the city and the state - lots of people of ALL colors intermingling and having a great time. Transportation is free with the bus system, tickets are only $13 ($10 if they had been purchased in advance) and yeah - food will cost money at the Fair, but you can pack in your own without a problem if you prefer.

They gathered outside the main entrance to the State Fair, but were not
allowed to enter. Police, State Fair police and employees of the Fair
were arrayed against them. If they wanted, they could go to another
entrance, present their ticket, and enter into the Fair like the other 200,000+
people who attended that day. 

So the news crews were pulled into the story, the police had lots of extra officers on duty to make sure nobody was endangered, traffic was snarled for several hours at a single entrance to the State Fair (the transit hub was untroubled as were the other entrances to the north and south) and it was a bizarre occasion - a huge buildup for an actual fizzle. So much for the protest.

Are there problems behind this protest? Absolutely! Will those problems be
resolved by violent rhetoric? No. 

I joined DH at the Fair that night after work and we wandered and ate. Since I've used up my space today discussing the protest that wasn't, I'll try to bring people up to date on the Fair and the Renaissance Festival tomorrow instead of today. Have a fun and fabulous Monday. OH, and a quick "thanks" to those of you wishing me a quick heal on my hamstring pain - it managed to work itself out on Saturday night walking the Fair and is almost completely healed today. Two days of walking seemed to be the right medicine.

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