A coalition of progressive groups rallied in Minneapolis Wednesday night to demand that new President Joe Biden reverse many his predecessor's policies and protect immigrant and minority communities.
Speakers at the rally outside South High School said that while they are pleased that Donald Trump lost the election, they want to see the Biden administration take immediate action on many issues that matter most to progressives.
Many of the 120 or so people gathered carried signs supporting Black Lives Matter, defunding the police and fighting climate change.
One sign atop a car read "Justice 4 Dolal Idd." Idd was fatally shot by Minneapolis police in December after he fired a gun at them, sparking some claims of police brutality.
"We are outside and we are going to be outside until we get justice for the stolen lives, until we bring back equality in all of our communities and to free the thousands and the millions of people who are wrongfully incarcerated, until we protect our water, our land from corporate greed," Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, told the crowd.
The peaceful gathering segued into a march along Lake Street to the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct, whose headquarters was set on fire during the protests that followed George Floyd's May 25 death in police custody. Some of the protesters followed pedestrian protesters in vehicles. Others with glowing batons and reflective vests stopped traffic at intersections so the group could safely cross.
There was no visible police presence in the area.
High school teacher Ashley Kemp said she showed up to protest plans for educators to return soon to classrooms. The risk of COVID-19 is still too high for that, Kemp said.
In December, Biden promised to open schools within his first 100 days in office.
"They're talking about protecting the lives of Black and brown people who are most likely to be affected by the virus, most likely to have complications and or die," Kemp said. "Those are the people that we need to care about. That means we do not return to school and put their lives on the line."
Kemp said she also supports defunding the police, the military and ICE to create more funding for education.
"There's a new mutated [COVID-19] strain out there and yet there's this push to go back in person," said another teacher who asked to not be identified. "It has everything to do with getting the wheels of business back running again; meanwhile, people's health doesn't matter at all."
Some at the protest called for ending aid to Israel and no war with Iran. Others demanded community control of police organizations and reunification of immigrant families separated at the border. Broader demands included student loan relief and financial help for workers affected by the pandemic.
The protest was organized by the Anti-War Committee and Climate Justice Committee and endorsed by dozens of others, including Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro and CAIR-MN.