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It might not make Minnesotans blink to learn that Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin was linked to the Alaska Independence Party. Minnesota has a similarly named band, associated with a colorful former governor, wonkish subsequent leadership and centrist positions on issues.
That wouldn't accurately describe the Alaska Independence crowd. Their big issue is right out of the 19th century -- secession from the union. They want to force a popular vote over statehood that they say they were denied in 1958.
The New York Times reports that Palin linked to the Alaska Independence Party for two years in the 1990s. Evidently, she's still on good terms with the third party. Her video welcome to the AIP 2008 convention earlier this year in Fairbanks emphasized how much her administration and the party have in common.
To be sure, most of the 10,000 folks who marched through the streets of St. Paul Monday voiced their protests peacefully.
Then there was the splinter group of about 200 extremists who gave the day a violent, un-Minnesota vibe. The Macy's store in St. Paul was one local landmark bruised in the violence. On Monday, three of the store's big exterior windows at the corner of Wabasha and Sixth Street were smashed while customers inside hunted for bargains at the store's Labor Day sale.
What exactly was the point these protesters were trying to make? The only conclusion we came to is that these aren't protesters. They're hoodlums enjoying destruction for destruction's sake.
By late Tuesday morning, there was nary of a sign of the violence. The windows all had been replaced. Macy's had ramped up staffing and security for months in advance of the RNC. Smashed windows were a headache, but thankfully, one for which the store was ready.
Politics, it's said, makes strange bedfellows. Sometimes, political convention journalism does, too.
Take the case of our former Star Tribune colleague, John Reinan, who now works for a public relations firm and writes for MinnPost. Reinan was in need of workspace Tuesday at the Republican National Convention. Al-Jazeera had an open spot. Reinan sat down and found himself an interviewee (on background) explaining the Alaska Independence Party to the Arabic-language news network. Reinan lived in Alaska for a time.
But al-Jazeera had to give him the boot soon after. One of its reporters needed the space. But it sent Reinan on his way with a culinary touch suggesting that it had quickly adapted to Minnesota culture. Reinan walked off munching a Rice Krispie treat.
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