Protesters storm Regents meeting


More than 100 protesters stormed and stopped the meeting

Protesters, several of them students, stormed the regents board meeting this morning in support of striking union workers at the University and five were arrested for “interfering with public property.”

Hennepin County jail records show University Police arrested and booked five individuals in Hennepin County Jail around 11:20 a.m. today.

Officials arrested Kimberly Defranco, 42, Lindan Gawboy, 44, Katherine Kleckner, 55, Katrina Plotz, 27, and Kathryn Wodkte, 20, for interference of public property.

They are being held without bail on probable-cause holds for the weekend. If officials don’t charge the individuals, they will be released Monday around noon, according to Hennepin County jail officials.
Tyler McKean
University police officer K. Randolph stands guard at the board room in McNamara Alumni Center with a pepperball gun Friday during a protest to support the AFSCME strike. Five protestors where arrested and the regents meeting was adjourned after most of the regents left.

The protesters entered the board room at 9:30 a.m. and demanded answers from regents board members regarding the striking workers from the American State, County and Municipal Employees union. Per suggested protocol, the regents adjourned for a short recess to wait out the disturbance.

The regents reconvened half an hour later, but the meeting was adjurned after protesters yelled questions and refused to be quiet.

After police arrived shortly after, they arrested several protesters, who attempted to make sure today’s Regents meeting would not conclude without discussion of the ongoing union strike.

When protesters expressed disagreement with the arrival of police, one police officer drew his pepper spray, but never used it on the crowd, estimated at approximately 100 people.

“The students made no violent steps at all,” said Kyle Johnson, a visual arts sophomore and student protester.

Political Science senior and student representative to the Board of regents, Adam Engelman, said there was no confrontation between police and arrestees.
Tyler McKean
Officer J.B. Yunker, right, keeps protestors away from University Regent Steven Hunter, right, Friday in McNamara.

“I thought police and protestors were respectful,” he said, adding that President Bruininks left the room without comment.

Regent Steven Hunter, who is also a member of AFSCME Local 9, stayed in the room to address the protesters.

“We are working to find a solution,” he said to the crowd.

Hunter said reaching an agreement in this type of situation has a process the University will continue to follow.

“We have a collective bargaining process,” he said.
Tyler McKean
University Regent Steven Hunter sits in the board room of McNamara Alumni Center on Friday during a student protest. Hunter was the only regent who remained after a protest to support AFSCME union workers entered the regents meeting.
“We’re not going out of it.”

Jim Heinz, the general manager of the McNamara Alumni Center, said the protesters had every right to attend the meeting so long as they remained orderly.

“If they behave themselves, they can go up,” he said.

Rhonda Jennen, president of AFSCME Local 3260, was pleased with the student support.

“It is inspiring that they were willing to put themselves on the line for us,” she said.

Friday marked the third day of strikes by the AFSCME union – which represents more than 3,000 technical, clerical and health workers on the Duluth and Twin Cities campuses.