Students march, raise voices against hate

Hundreds of community members and students gathered Sunday to march against antisemitism and white supremacy in honor of Daunte Wright and everyone else who has lost their lives to police violence.

The event was hosted by multiple groups including YWCA Mankato, Diversity & Inclusion at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Indivisible of St. Peter and Greater Mankato.

Starting in parking lot 23 on the corner of Monks Avenue and Stadium Road, hundreds gathered with signs as they marched down the busy street while letting their voices be heard. 

The march led to Centennial Student Union Mall at MNSU, where students, faculty and city officials took the stage to speak out and voice personal experiences regarding racism.

Reauna Stiff, incoming Student Government president, shares her experience as a young African American woman.

“I remember when I was 12 years old hearing when Trayvon Martin was killed. This just shows how my generation has seen these cases time and time again and have grown up seeing this,” Stiff said. “I want to encourage the young people to keep speaking out and showing up because we will not tolerate racism or police brutality.”

This event was in response to the recent stickers posted around Mankato and St. Peter espousing white supremacist and neo-Nazi views.  

Mike Laven, President of Mankato City Council, shared how he must represent all members of the community.

“As the President I represent all 42,000 people and I represent the people here who are against racism,” he said. “Over 20 years ago I said I will represent the community at large. That means I have to represent everyone regardless of why or who. That is the role I took and the job and responsibility you expect me to do and I am incredibly proud of the organizations that put this together.”

The rally is just one of many that have been conducted this month as many hate-crimes and other police violence incidents have happened recently.

“The sad part about today is that this is about the third or fourth time in the past couple weeks I’ve had to do this,” said  Henry Morris, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at MNSU. “We had to do this for our Asian American brothers and sisters, our Latinos, and of course for our African Americans. We need to figure this out, there is no peace without justice.”

Some in the crowd asked where MNSU President Richard Davenport was. Morris offered an explanation.

“He really does wish he could be here,” Morris explained. “I don’t want to get into his medical issues but I know that he cannot be around crowds because he has a compromised immune system. But he is here in spirit.”

During the rally students were able to amplify their voices and share their personal experiences with racism.

Ciree Cox, Vice President of the Black Student Union at MNSU, talked about what she experienced while protesting in Minneapolis last summer in honor of George Floyd.

“I would hear the gunshots at night which they don’t speak about on the news. There were white supremacists shooting black people, kidnapping them, beating them up and driving them off the road. A lot of that wasn’t on the news, but I saw it happen with my own two eyes and I heard it,” Cox shared.

Uniting the community and honoring those who have lost their lives to police violence was one of the main goals for the rally. 

Yurie Hong, who is a part of Indivisible of St. Peter and Greater Mankato, spoke about the importance of these rallies. 

“Demonstrations and rallies are the foundation, they are the floor, they are not the ceiling. It is important to show up as individuals and as organizations to be able to look each other in the eye and stand in a big group and say, ‘Hey white supmacist, you don’t get to define what this community is and what it’s going to be!’” Hong said.

Grasping the attention of many bystanders, students walking by were able to listen in on this important conversation.

Chris Russert, senior at MNSU, expressed why he chose to support this movement. 

“We keep seeing this happen over and over. The only way this is ever gonna stop if we keep coming out here and showing up for each other,” Russert said.

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