ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Disagreements took a violent turn at the State Capitol when fights broke out during a protest.
Earlier Saturday a group of about 100 people were inside the rotunda at a permitted rally against Shariah law.
Outside, there were about 300 counter-protestors.
Some told WCCO they were rallying against racism and bigotry.
It’s when the two groups met outside that the violence began.
State troopers arrested seven people for charges like disorderly conduct and assault.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says it was mostly a peaceful day of demonstrations until the small fights broke out.
“It’s crazy, I just don’t have words for it,” one protestor said.
Differences of opinion turning into fights near the steps of the State Capitol.
“It’s just a bunch of 2-year-olds stomping their feet basically, it’s tiring,” anti-Shariah protester Kristina Horacek said.
Earlier in the afternoon, the group ACT for America had a permit to rally inside the rotunda against Shariah law, a set of principles that govern the moral and religious lives of Muslims.
“Shariah law is not for women. Shariah law is no freedom of religion or speech or thought,” anti-Shariah protestor Karolynn Olson said.
While some at the rally feel Shariah law is a threat to the U.S. Constitution, most Muslims say they don’t want to replace U.S. law with Shariah law, saying only “radical extremist groups” would call for that.
“There was a lot of hate being spewed inside and unfortunately this is what’s happening today,” Jaylani Hussein of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said.
Protestors on both sides pointed the finger at the other for instigating the violent outbreaks.
“We are just trying to protect America and every time it is the same response: you’re a Nazi, you’re a racist, you’re a bigot, you’re a misogynist. You’re an Islamophobe. We are not against Islam, Muslims, we are against Shariah law. That’s what the point is today,” Horacek said.
“We marched forward to confront the racist people who were at the march for Shariah law — against Shariah law, excuse me, and people were kenneled in and arrested for just standing there,” Skylar Dorr of the University of Minnesota’s Students for Democratic Society said.
In the end, troopers separated the crowds and made seven arrests, with many protestors on both sides promising they’ll be back.
“We are not going to ever stop being here,” Dorr said.
This isn’t the first time fights have broken out at a capitol protest in recent months.
On March 4 counter-protestors also came to a rally that was being held inside the capitol in support of President Donald Trump.
Some of the people arrested after that protest are facing criminal charges.
DPS says there were no injuries reported Saturday.