A crowd of at least 1,000 gathered Monday evening in Minneapolis to decry the Nazi-flag-waving white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., and to stand in solidarity with counterdemonstrators there.
By 5 p.m., the group packed the 2200 block of Franklin Avenue E., outside the headquarters of the Republican Party of Minnesota. They carried signs, chanted slogans and embraced one another — black and white, young and old, Christian, Jewish and Muslim — and were roused by activists from the Anti-War Committee, Students for a Democratic Society, New North, the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee and other groups.
Speakers invoked the memories of Heather Heyer, the Virginia woman who was killed Saturday when a car sped into the crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville; the bombing at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington a week ago, and the deaths of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile at the hands of Twin Cities police officers.
Sally Lieberman of Minneapolis carried a sign that read, “Daughter of WWII vet, mother of Jews. I will not rest while even one Nazi walks this land.” On the other side, it read, “In Trump’s Amerikkka, loving your neighbor makes you part of a ‘fringe’ group.”
Lieberman said she’s been to other rallies and marches to support Black Lives Matter and immigrant rights.
“I argued with my dad, who said the Civil War was not over,” she said. “I said it’s over. There’s still racism, but it’s over.
“He was right,” she said. “I was proven wrong.”
Ryan Vernosh and Sara Gramer of White Bear Lake brought their two daughters, ages 6½ and 9, to the rally.
“It’s important we all stand united against white supremacy,” Vernosh said. “It’s important that especially white people come out in droves and say we aren’t going to support that kind of bigotry.”
Although inconvenienced, many drivers trying to make their way through the area honked in support.
Samantha Pree-Stinson, who identified herself as a human rights activist, told the crowd, “We have failed to acknowledge history and now we are repeating it. Free speech does not protect terrorism.”
Misty Rowan of the Anti-War Committee said, “This is not surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention. You know we have a race problem, and it starts right at the top.”
The crowd stayed at 500 to 700 people as it moved along Franklin and down Cedar Avenue. Some shopkeepers came out with fists raised in support and flashed peace signs as the marchers chanted.
A 9-year-old girl wearing a hijab and holding her father’s hand was overheard telling him, “I miss Obama. We wouldn’t be going through this commotion.”
The group was escorted front and back by police squads with lights flashing. Police, State Patrol and group marshals held cars at freeway entrances and exit ramps until the crowd passed.
The marchers stretched two blocks long as they headed west on Washington Avenue into downtown Minneapolis. Hotel and restaurant guests along the route headed outside or pasted themselves to the windows with cellphone cameras in hand.
Heading north on 4th Avenue S., the group ended at the Hennepin County jail. A few in the group blocked the light-rail tracks, forcing a train to reverse back to the Government Center station. An effigy in khaki pants and a white shirt was burned on the jail plaza but went out as firefighters arrived.
Minneapolis and Metro Transit police looked on but took no action.
After 2½ hours, organizers urged the crowd to leave in groups and watch out for each others’ safety.
Similarly themed rallies and marches occurred Monday in other states. Protesters in Durham, N.C., toppled a long-standing statue of a Confederate soldier as dozens cheered and chanted.
Several hundred people marched through the streets of an Ohio city where the man accused of running down protesters in Virginia had been living.
The anti-racism rally Monday in Maumee took place just a few miles from where James Alex Fields Jr. lived the past year.
Fields is in jail in Virginia, where he’s accused of ramming his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally Saturday, killing Heyer and injuring 19.
At the Monday march in Ohio, Chris Thomas of Sylvania said residents need to stand up and say that Fields doesn’t represent their community.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.