General Mills protester dies of a heart attack

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 15, 2012 - 9:30 PM

Andover man received national attention for burning cereal box to protest company stance on same-sex marriage.

A Twin Cities man who staged a fiery protest outside General Mills headquarters in Golden Valley last week has died of a heart attack, his family and its minister said Wednesday.

Michael L. Leisner, 65, of Andover, gained national media attention for setting a box of Cheerios on fire outside the cerealmaker's corporate offices Aug. 5 in a one-person protest of the company's support for same-sex marriage.

Leisner posted a video of his act online, with it showing him scrambling to stomp out the flames before he hurriedly instructs his off-camera friends to get in a car. The video made its way onto cable TV's "The Daily Show" and "Chelsea Lately."

Leisner died Saturday while waiting in his car for his sons to finish playing tennis, said the Rev. Dwight Denyes, senior pastor at Emmanuel Christian Center in Spring Lake Park.

The family said in a statement that the two sons found Leisner in his car and not breathing. He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids and died "of a massive heart attack," the statement said.

Denyes said that while he didn't know Leisner well, what the nation saw in the protest video "doesn't accurately reflect who he was as an individual. He was a very loving and caring father of his four children, a loving husband and he seemed to get along with other people."

PAUL WALSH

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