Students, public march against domestic violence

Jerret Raffety

Chants of “2, 4, 6, 8, down with violence, down with rape!” resounded through Uptown from participants of the annual Take Back the Night event Wednesday.

Organized by the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group for the eighth-consecutive year, the nonviolent rally and march attracted approximately 450 University students and area residents.

Kate Suchomel, MPIRG program director, said the event was meant to increase concern about domestic- and sexual-violence issues, as well as provide information and resources to victims.

“Many have been abused – too ashamed or afraid to come forward – and we want them to know they are not alone,”

Suchomel said. “We want them to feel like survivors and not victims.”

Attendees rallied in Loring Park, marched south on Hennepin Avenue, then east on 24th Street before turning north on Lyndale Avenue. After the march, attendees enjoyed live music, spoken-word performances and a martial arts demonstration.

The crowd was greeted by car horn honks, clapping and thumbs-up signs from onlookers.

Police blocked traffic and positioned squad cars to roll at the front and rear of the crowd. Men were asked to allow women to stay at the front of the crowd.

The night began with children’s activities and an art show featuring photography, textile art and paintings in Loring Park.

“It was about getting people out of their homes and into a park to exchange ideas and empower themselves,” said Christina Barber, an MPIRG intern and College of Liberal Arts sophomore.

“Art is all about exchanging ideas, and so the two have some common ground.”

The event also featured speakers from several women’s and anti-violence organizations from the community.

Patty Wetterling, a citizens’ advocate and co-founder of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, spoke about keeping children protected by telling parents to teach safe behavior and how to avoid dangerous strangers.

The foundation is named for her son, who was abducted from St. Joseph, Minn., in October 1989.

“We don’t want our kids to walk around scared; we want them to walk around smart,” Wetterling said.

“We own this neighborhood. We care about each other, and we are going to stop this violence.”

Since 1976, Take Back the Night marches have taken place in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.