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St. Paul blogger at center of sidewalk confrontation with Muslims

Posted by: Updated: June 20, 2011 - 8:35 PM

By Matt McKinney

Conservative blogger and St. Paul attorney John H. Gilmore was at the center of a sidewalk confrontation on Nicollet Mall last week that began with comments he made to two women wearing traditional Muslim dress and ended with his arrest, according to police.

Gilmore, 52, allegedly started the confrontation Thursday night by calling out the name of a well-known critic of Islam, author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, to the women as they crossed paths on the sidewalk near the Dakota Jazz Bar and Restaurant. 

“He just shouted it out,” said Anwar Hijaz, a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, the Muslim head scarf. Hundreds of progressive bloggers happened to be on Nicollet Mall that evening after attending the first day of a four-day conference known as Netroots Nation, an annual conference about using online tools to spread progressive ideas, at the nearby Minneapolis Convention Center. Many of those people were attending a karaoke party at the Dakota.

Hijaz and her friends said they responded to Gilmore as he asked the women why they had come to the United States, why were they trying to change the nation, according to police. Gilmore then began taking pictures of everyone on the sidewalk. Gilmore continued taking pictures and speaking for at least 20 minutes, said Elisabeth Geschiere, one of the women with Hijaz.

Gilmore also called two blonde people standing on the sidewalk “dirty Swedes,” told Muslims to go back to where they came from and that Muslims should be documented in America, according to Matthew Glazer, one of the progressive bloggers who witnessed the fracas and called police, who arrested Gilmore in a nearby bar.

He was held at Hennepin County Jail on charges of disorderly conduct and obstruction of the legal process without the use of force until the following morning, posted $50 bail and has a July 1 court appearance scheduled.

Gilmore, who could not be reached Monday evening, was admitted to the bar in 1986 and is licensed to practice law in Minnesota. He writes the blog “Minnesota Conservatives.”

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