Around 300 protesters rallied in front of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) headquarters in St. Paul, bringing with them a “missing persons report,” which referred to the women and people of color missing from job sites across Minnesota. The protesters said they wanted to remind the agency that it hasn’t kept up with its goals of hiring women and persons of color. The rally was organized by HIRE, a coalition of 65 community organizations in Minnesota that seek public investments to grow the economy, provide living wages, and promote healthy communities, according to its website.
In a press release for the rally, Tracy Nordquist Babler, Director of Communications for the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, a HIRE affiliated organization, wrote that HIRE is asking that federal stimulus funds be invested in “green jobs that benefit low-income communities and communities of color.”
Paul Slack, pastor of New Creation Church in Brooklyn Park, who spoke at the rally, said “There have not been opportunities; there has not been access for people who really need those jobs. And we want to bring that awareness that [MnDOT] is not meeting the federally set goals in this state. People need to respond so we can achieve a different outcome for everybody.”
The protesters sang “This land is your land” and “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around” among other songs, and carried signs that said “We are ready to work” and “The best social program in the world is a job.”
After gathering across the street from MnDOT headquarters, the protesters marched inside the building and walked up the stairs to the reception area. Police officials were on hand, informing the protesters that they weren’t supposed to have more than six people without a permit, but in the end the protesters were allowed to deliver their message. Paul Slack said that the report, which was blown up and posted on foamcore, was intended for MnDOT Commissioner Thomas Sorel, but since he was not there, Kevin Gutknecht, Communications Director for MnDOT, received it. After delivering the report, the protesters left peacefully.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis theater artist and freelance writer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org