ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A Black Lives Matter organizer expects 800 protesters to join a demonstration outside the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday. The group is meeting at 11 a.m. at Hamline Park in St. Paul, then marching up Snelling Avenue to the front of Gate 5 at the fairgrounds.
Black Lives Matter does not plan to go inside the fair, but part of their goal is to affect the profits of the fair. Organizers believe not enough State Fair booths are awarded to black business owners. They’re also protesting violence and various issues plaguing black Minnesotans. The group plans to rally and listen to speakers, then sit down in the street in a peaceful protest.
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“It's a triple bottom line,” said Rashad Turner. “We want the people going to the State Fair to be safe, we want the marchers with young families and children to be safe, and we want the general public to be safe. That is what our main focus has been.”
Black Lives Matter organizers told Fox 9 the city has promised no one will be arrested, but St. Paul police insist no such conversation happened.
The St. Paul branch of Black Lives Matter was not associated with the holiday season sit-in at Mall of America, or the march that blocked Interstate 35W on Dec. 4, 2014.
Minnesota State Fair statement
"Black Lives Matter announced a plan to conduct a protest at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 on Snelling Avenue. They do not intend to protest on the fairgrounds. State Fair police and staff are working diligently to ensure the safety of all and to make Saturday as safe and enjoyable as every other day at the fair.
The State Fair has a very large and comprehensive Emergency Management Plan that covers a myriad of situations from accidents to weather related incidents. One of the dozens of situations in the Emergency Management Plan under the broader category of human incidents is street demonstrations. The fair has a regulation that prohibits bannering, picketing and interfering on the grounds, and we are well prepared to handle demonstrations here. Our Public Safety staff of more than 300 is outstanding and works closely with local police, along with regional and national law enforcement to coordinate efforts and ensure the safety of all on and off the fairgrounds.
On Saturday, we will keep fair visitors informed of traffic or pedestrian delays to the fairgrounds via our website and social media channels."