Black Lives Matter and Native Lives Matter Coalition Protest in Place of Confederate Flag Supporters’ Rally



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On the morning of September 5, a new group calling themselves “Minnesota 10,000 for Southern Heritage” planned to rally on the Minnesota Capitol lawn in support of the Confederate battle flag.

The group formed via social media conversations in the midst of nationwidecriticism of the flag, which began following the June shooting of nine black churchgoers in Charleston.DylannRoof, the perpetrator of the Charleston shooting, photographed himself in front of the flag as a symbol of white supremacy.According to Twin Cities Local News, B.C. Johnson, the rally’s organizer and anAfrican Americanman from South Carolina, said he does not want the flag’s meaning to undergo any more misconception based on the actions and racist attitudes of Roof and others like him. Members of the group said the flag represents more about states’ rights than slavery.

Black Lives Matter St. Paul announced that they would attend the rally to challenge points made in favor of the Confederate flag. Johnson’s group planned to carry on the gathering anyway. Shortly before the event, however, the rally was rumored to have movedto Savage, a Twin Cities suburb. Regardless, it did not end up happening at the Capitol.

Instead, Black Lives Matter, Native Lives Matter Coalition, and members of the Occupy MN Movement held a counter-protest near the Capitol in front of the Christopher Columbus statue. They used the opportunity to make points regarding thestatue, the Confederate flag, and white supremacy.

“They would have been here with Confederate flags on the Capitol!” shouted a protester. “They lie about Southern heritage…what they’re really trying to celebrate is white supremacy.”

In January 2015, St. Paul police shot and killed 24-year-old Marcus Golden. At the protest, Golden’s aunt, Monique Cullars-Doty, described the Confederate flag as “a symbol of hatred.”

She said that when her three-year-old son first saw the flag, she told him to “stay away” from it. “Whenever I see the flag I do kind of tense up a bit, and I have to stop and think, okay, like, where am I?” Cullars-Doty explained.

In the middle of Cullars-Doty’s speech, a man and woman approached the protesters. They carried American flags and chanted various pro-Confederacy statements.

“We’re one in the same,” chanted a few Black Lives Matter protesters in retaliation. They chased the man and woman away from the protest and took their American flags, which were promptly burned back by the statue.

“If you turn around, you’ll see an American flag roasting, because that’s what we really feel,” said a speaker who introduced himself as Dee.

Dee, who appeared to be the main organizer of the protest, spoke at various points throughout the morning. He said that the Confederate flag represents states that wanted to continue slavery and that “we can’t forget that history.”

Dee also said he feels that if those in support of the Confederate flag succeed in dividing blacks and whites, “we will be too busy fighting each other to know who the real enemy is.”

The crowd in attendance reacted enthusiastically to what Dee and his fellow speakers had to say. They reacted throughout the morning with an abundance of comments like, “Tell the truth,” “Amen,” and “Nailed it!” During a speech by a woman with the Native Lives Matter Coalition, a member of the crowd shouted, “This is your land!”

The woman with the Native Lives Matter Coalition, whom Dee introduced asRene,addressed All Lives Matter claims and said that she believes all lives should matter.

“(But) whenisall lives going to matter? Equally? Because apparently, all lives do not matter,” she said.

Protesters also addressed the statue of Christopher Columbus behind them.

“Nothing is a more clear example of (white supremacy in society) than the statue behind us,” they said, “This statue needs to come down.”

They added that it honors a man who decided to “enslave a population of people” in order to “profit from that land.”

In the middle of the protest, the crowd chanted, “No Fascists! No KKK! No racist USA!”

The protest in front of the Columbus statue concluded with the rippingand burningof Confederate flags. At its conclusion, the group began marching for several blocks down University Avenue.Approximately 50-75 people of various races attended the protest.

Editor’s Note: Previously this article referred to Native Lives Matter. Thecorrect name of the group is the Native Lives Matter Coalition.