MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter has promised the first Saturday of the Minnesota State Fair will not be “business as usual.”
Organizer Rashad Turner said Friday afternoon that he expects nearly 1,000 people will march from Hamline Park in St. Paul along Snelling Avenue to reach the front gates of the fair.READ MORE: At Duluth's Rose Garden, Thousands Of Vibrant Flowers Are Uniquely Situated On Lake Superior's Shore
Turner said the gathering at the park will commence at 11 a.m. and the route to be traveled is approximately 1.5 miles.
On Friday morning, St. Paul city officials and law enforcement leaders held a news conference to assure fairgoers they will be safe on Saturday.
“We have a great history of keeping things safe at the fair and we don’t think tomorrow will be any different,” Police Chief Tom Smith said.
But Turner said while he wants the day to be peaceful and safe as well, the group’s goal is to cause a disruption to traffic leading into the fair.
“Traffic will be backed up and people will be forced to hear us,” Turner said.READ MORE: COVID Community Test Sites In Mpls., St. Paul, Bloomington To Close By End Of The Week
The city would not address safety tactics or if anyone will be arrested. City officials said the group does not have a permit to protest.
State Fair police are in charge of dealing with anyone from the group who tries to get in to the Fair.
Gov. Mark Dayton weighed in on the impending protest, calling the Black Lives Matter protestors’ plans “inappropriate.” Dayton said the group should have taken their complaints to the State Fair board months ago.
“The governor never said anything about a black person dying every 28 hours so we found it odd and interesting that now that money is on the line he has something to say,” Turner said.
Mayor Chris Coleman and other city officials had reached out to Black Lives Matter organizers to meet on Friday morning, but Turner backed out of the meeting. Turner said he does not feel Coleman genuinely wants to do anything about the complaints of the Black Lives Matter groups.
“We want to build relationships with the police department and end those injustices and hopefully Mayor Coleman can get his mind right and get on board with real justice,” Turner said.MORE NEWS: Twin Cities Among Metro Areas Included In Biden Plan To Curb Violent Crime
Coleman said he believes no other city in Minnesota is doing more to address the concerns of the Black Lives Matter group. Turner said he disagrees.