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Demonstrators stay heated during Super Bowl protest, march in sub-zero temperatures

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Despite below zero temperatures, demonstrators marched for over three hours through Minneapolis on Sunday to protest, what they say, is police brutality and corporate greed.

The protest was organized by over 20 twin cities social justice organizations that merged together into the “Super Bowl Anti-Racist & Anti-Corporate Coalition.”

According to the group’s Facebook page, the protest was not just against “racist police brutality and the sell out of our city to greedy NFL owners and corporate sponsors,” but in support of athletes who took a knee this year – both professional and school-age.

“We’re here to speak out for justice in general,” said Jess Sundin, a member of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, “[We’re here] to demand an end to police violence in our communities and to say no to the giveaway of our city to the rich visitors from out of town,” Sundin added.

Local activist John Thompson holds a sign for his fallen friend Philando Castile and Fong Lee. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

Jamar Clark was shot and killed by the Minneapolis Police Department in 2015. The incident led to weeks of protests and an 18-day occupation outside a police precinct in Minneapolis. More protests followed when the officers involved in the shooting were cleared for their use of force by former Police Chief Janeé Harteau.

The protests drew a variety of people – from friends and family of people killed by police to former St. Cloud State University (SCSU) college professors.

“We think Super Bowl Sunday is a capitalist celebration,” said Keith Christiansen, a retired SCSU professor who said he had taught there for 20 years. “It needs some feedback and pushback and that’s why I’m here.”

A public affairs officer with the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) was not aware of any arrests during the protest, something that might have to do with the hands-off approach by the MPD when it comes to protests.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo made an appearance before the protest began moving.

“I know many in our community have a lot of concerns that touch on social justice issues, certainly those issues touch on public safety,” Arradondo said, adding that the MPD wants to help create a space for the demonstrators to protest safely.

MPD Police Chief Arradondo walks away after addressing the media before a protest during the Super Bowl. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka.

“This is my city. This is my community. I just really want to make sure that we do everything that we can to ensure that they have their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and to do so safely,” Arradondo said.

Arradondo replaced Harteau last year after the shooting of Justine Damond by MPD officer Mohamed Noor. Harteau faced harsh criticism in Minneapolis for her handling of the shooting, largely that she did not return from an out of town trip to handle the crisis.

Though there were some scuffles among people trying to enter the stadium gate and protesters, the protest itself was largely uneventful with now common chants including, “No Justice, No Peace.” And appearances by protest stalwarts like John Thompson – who entered the protest movement after his friend, Philando Castile, was killed by a St. Anthony police officer in 2016.

“Colin Kaepernick never marched or took a knee because of the damn flag of the divided states of America,” said Thompson as he stood in front of one of the stadium gates.

MPD officers often provide safety for protesters by blocking off streets along the march route. Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

“Colin Kaepernick took a knee because he’s sick of the police killing his brothers and sisters,” he said.

After mentioning President Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again” and certain comments Trump has said about immigration in reference to the United States, Thompson commented, “Racism makes the divided states of America a shithole country.”

Though a public affairs officer said there were no arrests they were aware of, there was an additional protest which blocked the light rail in downtown Minneapolis.

Metro Transit was the agency who handled that incident and the agency did not respond for comment by the time this article was posted.

 

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