U of MN protesters outnumber attendees at Jeff Sessions talk
Minneapolis, MN – Both Donald Trump and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke in Minnesota, April 15, and both were met with protest and disruption upon arrival. Trump spoke outside of a truck equipment company in the Twin Cities suburb of Burnsville and was met by activists denouncing his anti-immigrant policies and defending progressive Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.
Jeff Sessions was met with even larger crowds as protesters outnumbered attendees at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus, where he was slated to speak to a “sold out” crowd, but which ultimately had fewer than one-third of its seats filled.
The Sessions event was hosted by Minnesota Students for Liberty, CFACT, and the Minnesota Republic as part of their annual “Conservative Awareness Week.” He was scheduled to discuss the topic of “promoting conservative economics.”
In response, members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) at the University of Minnesota organized a protest of the event. The protest was endorsed by the Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness, and the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee.
Protesters began to gather outside the entry gate of the Sessions event roughly 30 minutes before his scheduled speaking time. The University of Minnesota Police Department guarded the venue and had an extensive presence.
The protest began with a speech detailing the reactionary policies and actions that Jeff Sessions had taken as attorney general, as well as his earlier actions within the judicial system and Senate. A member of SDS stated, “We gather here today to show that we will not tolerate Jeff Sessions’ appearance, and we reject his reactionary agenda! We stand in solidarity with everyone who has been targeted by his bigoted, inhumane, and draconian policies.”
Roughly half way through the protest, demonstrators began a march that circled the surrounding Cedar-Riverside neighborhood and the Carlson School of Management in which Sessions’ event was occurring. Protesters chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, Jeff Sessions has got to go,” and “No cops, no KKK, no racist USA.”
As the protest continued to grow outside, activists inside the auditorium began to disrupt his speech. One by one, disruptors would read portions of a statement written by a member of MIRAC and would continue doing so until escorted out by the police. This tactic effectively prevented Jeff Sessions from speaking. Disruptors were greeted to congratulatory cheers from the protest as they were kicked out.
In total, roughly 100 protesters participated, dwarfing the actual attendance of the Sessions event.