As a protest roared in front of the Minneapolis Convention Center, a few dozen office workers and sprinkling of protesters clustered on the corners of 3rd Avenue and 12th Street.
Police growled at pedestrians in the crosswalk, sirens yelped and a stream of emergency vehicles shot through the intersection. Then, at 10:46 a.m., a cheer rippled through the crowd as President Barack Obama’s motorcade rushed by.
Patrick T. Murphy lifted higher his sign reading, “Jobs?”
Inside, at the annual convention of the American Legion, attendants waited for Obama to discuss veterans benefits. Outside, hundreds of Minnesotans held signs about the environment, war and jobs under the overcast sky.
“I think this president and all the other politicians have failed us,” Murphy said after the motorcade passed. “They’re more interested in serving the needs of their contributors than they are the people of the United States.”
Police reopened the sidewalk to pedestrian traffic as the clusters of people fanned out.
“I came out today because this is so important,” says Patricia P. Hauser, pointing to her sign against the Keystone pipeline. “We wanted him to see a sign, at least one sign—he doesn’t get away scot-free.”
In the body of the protest, Remi Eichten of St. Paul wasn’t disillusioned that the motorcade avoided protesters.
“I want citizens of Minneapolis, of Minnesota, to see we’re out here,” she said.
Eichten says she’s still an Obama supporter, although she hopes he’ll take action on the Keystone project, as well as push for other policies like a new stimulus plan.
“I feel like he kind of needed to have his first term to say I’m a ‘work with you’ person [to Republicans]. If we can get him in for a second term it will be like doot, doot, doot,” Eichten says, checking off accomplishments. “I also wanted to come out and show that you can show dissent with him and still be supportive of him,” Eichten added.
Misty Grandison of Minneapolis said she wished Obama would be a little more scrappy.
“He sometimes feels uncomfortable with [criticism], especially when it comes from the left,” Grandison said, although she said she still preferred Obama to other presidential candidates like U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.
Later, as the speech wrapped up inside, protesters streamed to where Obama’s motorcade had entered the convention center, trailed by lines of police and five horses. A police officer announced “Disperse now,” as the horses crowded protesters off the sidewalk near the new security cordon. As it began to lightly rain, protesters argued with police or discussed Obama’s appointees.
Steve Sweet came from Greenville, Miss., to serve as an alternate national executive committeeman at the legionnaires annual convention. He watched the preparations for the exit of the president’s motorcade from across the street.
“This is what I fought for, these people have a right to protest and say what they want,” Sweet said, nodding to the protesters, many of whom carried signs referencing jobs, which the American Legion has concentrated on during this year’s convention. “I don’t have a thing against them, I’d sit down and have coffee with them—it’s that we’re going to have a difference of opinion and that’s what it’s all about anyway—that’s fine.”