Minnesotans rally against president’s visit

Amy Hackbarth

Everyone was a critic Monday afternoon as approximately 200 people rallied their causes outside the Minneapolis Hilton while President George W. Bush delivered a speech at a dinner for Republican gubernatorial candidate Norm Coleman.

At one point during the mostly peaceful protest, several police officers pulled a 20-something woman from the crowd, scattering surrounding protestors.

“People are saying that she threw a pretzel into the street,” said Dave Bauer, University senior and founding member of Students Against War.

An estimated 100 police officers monitored the rally while people threw pretzels, held signs and chanted along Marquette Avenue. They protested Bush’s stance on everything from foreign policy to energy.

University graduate Vince Grangl attended the protest to urge a 40 percent tariff on slab steel. A tractor operator for two years, Grangl joined 75 other union members at the rally to support the local steel industry.

The Sierra Club brought the largest group to the rally, with more than 100 people also protesting the energy plan.

“This energy policy is not in tune with people’s values,” said Heather Cusick, conservation director of the group. “Minnesotans expect more.”

Sophomore Tim Hayes attended the rally with more than 20 issues to protest.

“Where should I start?” he said, jumping into a list that included abortion and detainee rights and the USA Patriot Act, which strengthens immigration laws.

Sophomore Kent Amdahl was one of the only people at the rally not protesting. Instead, Amdahl – a volunteer at Sen. Paul Wellstone’s (D) office – waved a green Wellstone sign in support of his senator.

“I’m not here to protest anything,” he said. “I figured it was good to get Wellstone’s name out there, seeing as though he wasn’t invited to the event.”

Although the crowd didn’t see Bush entering or leaving the hotel, that didn’t dampen their spirits as they chanted long after Bush was supposed to have ended his speech.

For some, Bauer said, the rally was more about alerting others than reaching Bush himself.

“History is always described in specific moments, but realistically change is something that grows over time,” he said. “It’s important to let others in the country know there is an outlet for their sentiments.”

While she didn’t attend the rally, Kristin Meyer, president of the University’s Campus Grand Old Party, said she doubted the protestors would impact Bush’s visit.

“I don’t think they will detract from all the positive things that he’s here to do,” she said.

Amy Hackbarth welcomes comments at [email protected]