‘There is still more work to be done’: Lake Street rally stirs community, stresses postelection action

Though activists were happy to see Trump out of office, many said it is just one step of many toward justice for underrepresented communities.

As speakers call out the names of people of color killed by police officers, participants sport apparel bearing parallel messages, such as masks declaring “I can’t Breathe” in honor of George Floyd in South Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Samantha Hendrickson and Lydia Morrell

Outside the charred remains of the Minneapolis Third Precinct, a Saturday afternoon rally erupted in celebration — not for Joe Biden but for the first step of what one organizer called the “reclamation of liberation.”

The demonstration, dubbed “Together We Rise: March To Decide Our Future,” gathered more than 700 community members from dozens of Twin Cities advocacy organizations. The group followed the KetzalCoatlicue Aztec Dancers, marching down East Lake Street in a celebration of unity and acknowledgment of the social justice work they still have to do in their communities.

“This [protest] is just an opportunity to celebrate and begin pushing the work for Biden-Harris to start making the changes that we need to see in Minnesota as well as across the nation,” civic engagement coordinator Aaisha Abdullahi said.

Abdullahi works with the Muslim women advocacy nonprofit Reviving Sisterhood to increase voter turnout from the Twin Cities Muslim community. She said Vice President-elect Kamala Harris provides important representation for Black women.

Speakers addressed issues from all walks of activism, both in English and Spanish, with the help of a translator. An American Sign Language interpreter was also present. Issues included police brutality, immigration, environmental justice, rent control and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Police did not appear to be present. Volunteer marshals blocked off intersections and ensured safety for protesters on the streets.

The march went on for nearly three hours, and the Indigenous group set an upbeat tone for the following protest with drumbeats and traditional dances. Residents emerged from houses and businesses to cheer on or film the march.

Claudia Sanchez flew in to Minneapolis from Atlanta to visit her sister and was having lunch with her nieces and nephews at a nearby taqueria when they heard the march coming down the street.

“I was really excited when I saw what was going on. I’m happy that people are getting together and celebrating unity,” Sanchez said. “We all have a voice, and I feel like it should be heard.”

The march eventually ended in Powderhorn Park as protesters sprawled out on the grass to cheer on remaining speakers, including Nadine Little, who said she had been homeless since March 24 and arrested during the city’s clearing of the Powderhorn homeless encampment. She called on the city to support homeless people before Minnesota’s cold winter sets in.

Several public officials attended the event as well, including University of Minnesota-area Council members Cam Gordon and Steve Fletcher.

“What I see is a combination of celebration and resolve as this community sort of works through what the election solved for us, and what we still have as work ahead of us,” Fletcher said. “And people needed to come together and be with each other because this is really what makes our community special.”

Brianna Thomas, a protester who attended the Wednesday rally that ended with 646 protesters cited and released after five hours on Interstate 94, said that she enjoyed attending both protests.

“It was really good to see that many people out there protesting [on Wednesday],” Thomas said. She added that she was nervous at Wednesday’s protest because she did not want to be arrested, but Saturday’s energy was exciting and carefree.

Though some protesters sported pro-Biden apparel and carried Biden-Harris campaign signs, many said that there is still more work to be done for communities.

Erickson Saye, who works for a local nonprofit aiding in voter registration, said that while he thinks Biden’s election is a win, the president-elect is not a “savior for all.”

“There is still more work to be done in marginalized communities for social injustice that is happening everywhere. … This is a victory, but it’s not the end-all, be-all,” Saye said. “We need to continue this effort, continue this work and continue to lift up those voices from those communities that are typically not represented.”