The St. Paul chapter of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is planning to protest the Minnesota State Fair on Aug. 29.
The #BlackLivesMatter activists are going to demonstrate against what they say is lack of minority vendors at the fair. They also plan to protest shootings of black people by the St. Paul police; the aunt of Marcus Golden is scheduled to speak.
Golden was fatally shot by two police officers back on January 14. A grand jury declined to charge the officers in May, which outraged local black leaders, noted TwinCities.com.
The #BlackFair protest will begin in a park and march down a busy street to the fairgrounds.
#BlackLivesMatter organizer Rashad Turner told TwinCities.com:
When I look around the fair, I don't see an equitable amount of businesses owned by people of color. Yet, if you look at what people call the "help," you see plenty of people of color picking up trash and taking tickets, etc., but very few black-owned businesses as vendors.
However, Minnesota State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer countered:
The truth is, there's all kinds of exhibitors of every ethnicity involved at the State Fair. Everybody's there.
Our process for selecting commercial exhibits is based on products and services and institutions that would offer something new and contribute something to the fair... And that selection process has nothing to do with ethnicity. And you don't know who owns a booth by who's working in it.
Hammer has offered to find space for a #BlackLivesMatter booth at this year's fair to avoid disruption. Turner is considering the offer as an addition to the protest, not as a replacement; regardless of what's decided, the St. Paul police will be ready.
“We’ll take the same approach we take to the numerous rallies and marches that occur in the city every year,” St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linder told the Star Tribune. “That’s to, first and foremost, maintain a safe environment and second, protect the right of those expressing their feelings.”