Alyssa Bunde ® Staff Writer |
Photos by Kjerstin Hall ® Staff Photographer |
In response to President Donald Trump’s campaign visit to Mankato, a protest was organized by St. Peter & Greater Mankato area activist group Indivisible that drew out big masked crowds Monday afternoon.
The event began on the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, with protesters lined up holding signs with an array of messages from anti-hate to anti-Trump, Black Lives Matter and support of the postal service.
When asked about the event, Indivisible organizer Yurie Hong said, “We felt it was important to provide community members a safe and constructive space to reaffirm the things they care about. We didn’t want Trump’s visit to come without some sort of response from the community, but we also didn’t want it to be dangerous for our members.”
Activists came from all over the community, and while their specific reasoning for being there varied, their main subject was the same: Trump.
Activist Pete Steiner explained his presence at the event. “I’m just upset with the way things have been going. I don’t think [Trump] wants to be a president for everyone and I think a president should be a unifier, specifically for Southern Minnesota,” said Steiner. “He has really hurt our economy. Our soybean prices have not recovered since he instituted his tariffs. I just don’t think he’s doing a good job for America.”
Other activists also shared their reasoning for being there. High Schooler Aspen Clarksean said, “I’m here because we as a community have an obligation to show that we are better than the hate and racism shown by Trump.”
Lynn Klaber, one of the attendees, also voiced her opinion on the protest against the Presidential visit. “I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to make a stance on what we will stand for and what we will not,” said Klaber. “I will do whatever I can do and if It’s standing on a bridge with a sign, I will do that. It’s important for us to get out and vote to get this guy out of office.”
During the bridge protest, Trump supporters also exercised their freedom of speech by driving through the bridge with pro-Trump decorated vehicles. This caused a rise from both sides as chants were hurled at one another. Many of the pro-Trump vehicles had Trump flags hanging out of their windows and one activist even tore a flag off and threw it onto the ground. Activist & Stand Up! Mankato organizer Jasmine D’avilar recounted the event and said, “It was kind of a heat of the moment thing. Seeing them come in and brand themselves with all the Trump gear, it’s all just ignorance and pure hate and racism and I didn’t want to see it…so I ripped it off.”
This was not D’avilar’s first protest in Mankato. She explained her local activism and said, “I have been organizing protests here in Mankato for a couple of months now. I started in June in the wake of George Floyd’s death and we’ve been posted up every single night on the bridge so to have all these people show up and showing that Mankato isn’t going to stand for hate and discrimination, that’s what brought me out here.”
Following the bridge demonstration, the rally moved to the Veterans Memorial Park to hear from speakers tell their story of what it’s like to live and work in Mankato during the era of Trump. Speakers ranged from a Mankato teacher, a mother who has lost her children due to Trump’s immigration policies, an active community member on the Black Lives Matter movement and other individuals who stood to speak.
As the speaking portion of the event came to close many protesters made their way back to the bridge, signs held high. Walking in the area one could hear the chants and cars honking in solidarity for blocks. However, regardless of which side an individual was on, for or against President Trump, one thing was clear: political activism is alive and active in the streets of Mankato.
More coverage from the event and the speakers can be found on The Reporter’s Instagram account.