Inauguration Day protesters demand radical change from new president

Demonstrators march down East Lake Street Street in response to the Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday, Jan. 20. The protest lasted around two hours.

Samantha Woodward and Lydia Morrell

Protesters gathered near South High School in Minneapolis on Inauguration Day to “demand a people’s agenda” as President Joe Biden’s administration enters the White House with promises of change.

Local Twin Cities activist groups, led by the Anti-War Committee and including multiple University of Minnesota groups, hosted the Inauguration protest. The groups marched down Lake Street to the ruins of the Minneapolis Police Department Third Precinct building with cars trailing behind, honking along to chants and waving Black Lives Matter flags.

Activists spoke about the right to protest, drawing a comparison between the charges against the 646 protesters who were arrested in November to the lenient handling of rioters during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Many said they remain disappointed in American leaders despite an administration led by Democrats.

Khalyma Robinson, a second-year University of Minnesota student, spoke at the event on behalf of UMN Climate Strike about the importance of dropping the charges against the 646 Twin Cities protesters.

“[The protests over the last nine months showed] that when the people are not predominantly white or when they’re fighting for justice and equality, they are usually brutalized or harassed and intimidated,” Robinson said.

Robinson added that UMN Climate Strike is invested in working with Indigenous leaders to stop work on the Line 3 oil pipeline, but they attended the event in support of a variety of social justice issues related to racial equity.

“It’s important that we are all standing together fighting in solidarity with each other still,” Robinson said.

Fernando Sanchez, an organizer with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), said he joined the protest to “remind Biden that he promised something to the Latino voters,” referring to Biden’s calls for immigration reform. As a Mexican immigrant, he hopes to see a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people and DACA recipients.

Sanchez said that if the divide between Americans becomes deeper, everyone will lose. He was happy to hear Biden emphasizing unity in his inauguration speech.

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota (CAIR-MN), roused the crowd of nearly 200 before the march to demand accountability for police violence and unjust government treatment of immigrants.

“Today is a historic day in [the] American story, because Trump left office, but history of what he did can never be unwritten. That history is real, it’s part of America and it’s part of the failure,” Hussein said.

Three educators from Minneapolis Public Schools attended to support defunding government agencies such as the military, ICE and the police, and want to see officials reallocate funds toward schools to support marginalized students.

Jae Yates, a recent University graduate and member of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCCJ4J), led the chants as the crowd trudged along East Lake Street. As the song “Fuck Donald Trump” played over the mobile speakers, protesters called back “Fuck Biden, too.”

Yates said that TCCJ4J has campaigned for community control of the police for years and would like to see tangible results from the new administration.

“A Biden presidency does not mean an end to systemic racism or police brutality,” Yates said. “And we have to make sure that people know that we have to keep fighting.”