Approximately 200 concert-goers from last night’s Rage Against the Machine concert at the Target Center organized themselves into a march down 7th Street in downtown Minneapolis, in defiance of Minneapolis Police. The march ended at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 7th Street when riot and bicycle police corralled around 50 marchers onto the curb and made arrests. Minnesota Public Radio reported that 102 total arrests were made in Minneapolis last night, at multiple locations.
“Hey-hey, ho-ho, Republicans have got to go!”
The night’s events began lazily enough, with Minneapolis riot police outside Norman’s Bar at the corner of 7th Street and Hennepin Ave showing off their gear to well-heeled bar-goers, while a block away, pedestrians and journalists had gathered on the benches and curbs in front of the Graves Hotel and the First Avenue nightclub.
Around 11 p.m. the street and sidewalk in front of Target Center flooded with concert-goers pouring out of the arena’s 1st Avenue exit: mostly white men and some white women in their teens and twenties, clad in t-shirts advertising everything from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Eau Claire Athletics. The small group gathered around a bucket-drummer became a throng, over 150 concert-goers dancing and chanting, packed shoulder–to –shoulder in front of the 1st Avenue doors as camera crews and photographers wove in and out of the crowd.
Several people in the crowd were clearly trying to organize Rage Against the Machine fans into an impromptu march. Several of these organizers unfurled an enormous American flag covered in pop-art-like stencils of soldiers’ faces, which became the focus of the assembly.
“Why are you here?”
“I think what they’re saying is important,” said Gus Pollack, referring to the marchers’ chants urging an end to police militarism. “The police presence here is a little over the top,” he said.
Pollack was one of many concert-goers who stood on the curbs, watching the marchers in the street and occasionally joining in their chants.
To Spencer Ritt, the “real democracy” of marching in the streets in defiance of police drew him to join the marchers.
“Tear gas,” he and his three friends said, “tear gas is kind of my last straw.” It’s what kept them from joining the front ranks of the marchers.
Not all Rage Against the Machine fans were as supportive. Dustin O’Harver and a friend gazed at the marchers in frustration from the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue.
“This is not youth being empowered,” he said, exasperated. “When my parents see this, they’ll be scared.” O’Harver, a student at Augsburg College, urged marchers to get involved in grassroots groups working to fight poverty and racism where, he said, youth would find their “empowerment.”
Firecrackers and a Rubber Bullet
The marchers and riot police in gas masks faced off on 7th Street, in front of the First Avenue nightclub, for almost 20 minutes before the officers moved aside to allow bike police to corral marchers onto the sidewalk as they marched east on 7th Street. Over the course of three blocks, what had been a crowd of around 150 marchers thinned out to around 50 concert-goers and half as many journalists running to keep up.
Shortly after midnight, at the corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue, what some reporters and onlookers across the street called a “firecracker” was set off in the road, possibly by a marcher. Police responded with a rubber bullet, although it was unclear if the shot hit anyone. A marcher who later avoided arrest picked up the remains of the bullet and showed it to this reporter. (See photo.)
Riot police on horseback and on foot pushed the marchers onto the curb in front of the First National Bank of the Lakes, where marchers peacefully followed police orders to sit down and put their hands on their heads, and were arrested. Among those taken into custody were journalists and members of the Minnesota Peace Team, a group that tries to mediate between protesters and police in an effort to avoid violence between the sides.
James Sanna is a freelance writer and an intern covering education issues for the Daily Planet.