At least 2,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Minneapolis on Friday afternoon, hours after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, to challenge his views on issues ranging from the environment to immigration to women’s rights.
Marching behind a large banner that read “Resist From Day One!” — the protest’s theme — two groups of demonstrators converged at Nicollet and Franklin avenues, then continued downtown to the Hennepin County Government Center plaza for a rally.
Police estimated the number of marchers as they arrived at the plaza at 2,000.
About 70 peace and justice organizations endorsed the march, which stretched for 2½ blocks, and began at the Kmart Store at Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street. The march held up traffic as protest marshals temporarily blocked intersections so demonstrators could pass through. Two police cars led the marchers.
Traffic was rerouted around the protest by police officers. No one was arrested. Police reported one incident of property damage that occurred when a small group that had broken away from the rally put some holes and cracks in a Wells Fargo sign near U.S. Bank Stadium.
On Saturday, a women’s march is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at St. Paul College in St. Paul and head to the State Capitol for a noon rally. St. Paul police predict it may draw 20,000, which they say would make it the biggest demonstration in the state in many years.
It is one of many women’s marches planned for Saturday across the nation, with the largest in Washington, D.C. The march in St. Paul will be the largest of several planned in Minnesota cities, including Duluth and Rochester.
‘What we want is unity’
Friday’s demonstration drew people of all races and ages, though younger people made up the clear majority.
Sasha Williams, 27, of Eagan, carried a sign that said, “Stop the War on Poor.”
“We have a president who doesn’t believe in climate change, who criminalizes Hispanics,” she said. “These are our neighbors, our friends.”
Also on the march was Jenni Martinez, 20, a sophomore at the University of St. Thomas, who said both of her parents were born in Mexico. “I want to support everybody that Donald Trump is against,” she said.
Jerry Conley, 66, of Minneapolis, a retired business systems analyst, carried a sign that read, “Putin’s puppet is not my president!”
Also in the crowd were two DFL state legislators, Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein, both of Minneapolis.
“I’m here to stand in solidarity with my diverse community and speak out against the divisions that Donald Trump represents,” Dibble said.
Among the speakers at the kickoff rally at Kmart was James Badue-El, 24, co-chair of the Minneapolis NAACP prison outreach committee. Trump, he said is “focused on dividing — what we want is unity.”
The marchers cheered several Muslim speakers. “I’m standing here as a Muslim-American,” said Kiya Abdulahi, 22, a Metropolitan State student, speaking from the back of a pickup truck that stopped at the Franklin-Nicollet intersection. “I appreciate you all.”
Imam Hassan Mohamud drew cheers on the county plaza when he said, “We need to unite and protect each other. Mr. Trump, you are not going to divide this country. We won’t accept it.”
Marcher Jenna Alstad, 20, of St. Paul, a sophomore at Hamline University, said she is bisexual and that Trump “has said things that attack people that I love — women, gays, people of color,” she said. She carried a sign that said, “Nasty Woman,” a reference to a remark Trump made during the presidential campaign about rival Hillary Clinton.
As the marchers moved down Nicollet toward downtown Minneapolis, they stopped for a while at the Nicollet-Franklin intersection, and people went into a nearby church for a restroom break.
Some American Indians sat in the middle of the street and played a drum. Several people burned an effigy of Trump.
‘Stand for everybody’
Some protesters offered a harsh description of the economic imbalance in the world today.
“Eight men own half of the world’s wealth. This is capitalism in 2017,” Tyler Vasseur told the group outside the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.
“We are protesting against the manifestations of this oppressive system in our everyday lives, against campus rape culture, against the attacks and threats against Muslim students here on our very own campus. These are things that Trump and the right would like to normalize.”
After the brief rally, the students, escorted by police officers, began to march toward downtown. The crowd of 250 quickly swelled to 400 once they were joined by Augsburg students. By the time the crowd passed through the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, it numbered at least 500 people. Many motorists honked their horns in solidarity.
The marchers soon met up with the Black Snake Resistance Group, a Native American group opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
“I am the epitome of what Trump hates, and I’m proud to be here today.” said Sue Goodstar, a member of the American Indian Movement.
Augsburg College sophomore Brandon Williams, one protest speaker, referenced Trump’s pledge in his inauguration speech to “Put America First.”
“What does America mean to you?” he asked. “Does that include every gender, every race, every group of people?”
“Everybody!” a man in the crowd yelled.
“We have to stand for everybody today,” Williams said.
In a related protest, about 20 contract custodial workers at Home Depot stores in the Twin Cities conducted a one-day strike on Friday over what they described as low wages and the “anti-worker agenda” of President Trump, according to CTUL, a Minneapolis activist group that supports immigrant workers.
Haley Hansen is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for Star Tribune.