Governor Dayton condemns protesters’ chant
ST. PAUL -- Gov. Mark Dayton thinks a chant of "Pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon," during a Black Lives Matter St. Paul march to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds "was a terrible thing to say," his press secretary said Tuesday.
ST. PAUL - Gov. Mark Dayton thinks a chant of “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” during a Black Lives Matter St. Paul march to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds “was a terrible thing to say,” his press secretary said Tuesday.
His comment came in response to state Rep. Tony Cornish calling on Dayton Tuesday not to meet with the group unless it apologizes for the chant that law enforcement groups have called threatening.
About 40 people with Black Lives Matter rallied Tuesday evening outside the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul, but no one requested to meet with Dayton, who had off-site meetings scheduled and wasn’t at the residence when protesters arrived.
Cornish, R-Vernon Center, who was a police officer for 33 years, said Tuesday that he was disgusted by the chant of some protesters during the Saturday march. The St. Paul Police Federation and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association have also criticized the message.
Cornish is the retired Lake Crystal police chief, and said he’s been concerned about violence against officers recently.
“This type of chanting, in a roundabout way, seems to encourage that,” said Cornish, who chairs the House Public Safety and Crime Prevention Policy and Finance Committee.
Rashad Turner, Black Lives Matter St. Paul organizer, said the chant was not promoting violence against police, it was to say that police who commit murder should “fry” just as other murderers do. He called attempts to connect protest chants to violent acts “a spin that’s being done by the right-wing media and the mainstream media.”
“No one is promoting violence,” Turner said Tuesday before the rally. “We’ve all suffered loss. As long as the climate in this country stays an us-against-them mentality, people are going to continue to suffer on both sides of this. No one gains anything from not being able to trust the police. The police gain nothing from not having the community trust them.”
The “pigs in a blanket” chant was one of many during the hours-long event Saturday and lasted about 30 seconds, say people who were part of the group. The mood during the chant was not contentious, according to the man who took video of it and posted it on Twitter. And the police field supervisor escorting the group of marchers made a comment at the time, “Everybody likes bacon. I think we can all get behind that.”
There were no arrests or injuries in the unpermitted State Fair march.
Last week, Dayton said Black Lives Matter has valid concerns, but called the Fair protest inappropriate. That led to the group’s Tuesday march. As he prepared the crowd to march down Summit Avenue, Turner objected to the governor’s language.
“He’s calling what is a constitutional right of ours, of every single citizen of this country, to protest, he’s calling that inappropriate,” Turner said. “I know the governor’s not home, but some of his neighbors would love to hear our voices. … So we’re going to march in the streets, we’re going to use our voices.”
The group zigzagged between Summit and Grand avenues for about 45 minutes, with St. Paul police blocking traffic a block or two at a time as they went. At one point they stopped in front of the Wild Onion bar on Grand Avenue and accused bouncers there of rejecting black customers for violating the dress code and then admitting white customers wearing the same baggy pants.
“We believe that their claims are unfounded,” said Jay Salmen, co-owner of the Wild Onion. “We’re a very diverse establishment from our wait staff to our bartenders to our management team.”
At the end of the rally, as the group gathered in a circle, two sisters arrived to share the story of their younger brother, who they say was beaten unconscious by police Monday on a Green Line light-rail platform.
Jacqueline Vaughn said her 17-year-old brother, Marcus Abrams, is mentally disabled. She was told he was on the train tracks when police approached him and then threw him to the ground and kneed him in the head.
She showed pictures of him with cuts on his head and face. She said a bystander called for an ambulance while police were still standing over her brother.
“As you go up to talk to him you can clearly see that he’s legally blind and that he has a mental disability,” Vaughn said. “But they didn’t take the time.”
Metro Transit police confirmed that they confronted a male Monday evening near the Lexington Parkway Station. He was standing on the tracks, “which is obviously a dangerous situation,” said Howie Padilla, a Metro Transit spokesman.
Two officers initially made contact with the male, Padilla said. He would not provide information about what happened next, how many officers used force against the male or why. Padilla said that’s all part of the review that Metro Transit police have underway “to ensure all of our standard policies and procedures were followed.”
Police called paramedics, who took the male to a hospital “to determine what, if any, injuries he had,” Padilla said.
Black Lives Matter chant ‘disgusting,’ St. Paul police leader says