The state’s Republican delegates aren’t the only Minnesotans at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
On Monday morning, a group of Minnesota activists descended on Cleveland to voice their dissent, concern, and, often, their outrage over the controversial views of Donald Trump — particularly his calls for a mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and a giant border wall with Mexico.
Fresh off an overnight, 12-hour bus ride from St. Paul, about 50 Minnesotans came to downtown Cleveland around noon, where they marched down St. Clair Avenue holding a red banner bearing the slogan “Dump Trump” in a silhouette of the state of Minnesota, and shouting “Se ve, se siente, Minnesota está presente!”
The trip, organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee (MIRAC), sent a diverse group to Cleveland, including many immigrants and children of immigrants, socialist students, and longtime activists for various progressive causes.
At a public plaza shadowed by Cleveland’s tallest building and a Marriott hosting the Texas RNC delegation, the Minnesotans joined a broader crew of protesters hailing from around the country, particularly Black Lives Matter activists and socialists.
Their goal was the same: stopping Trump, made clear by repeated chants of “Dump Trump now!”
Lionel, a Mexican man from Minneapolis who has lived in the U.S. for 12 years, held up a sign with a cartoon of Trump fenced in by a tall wall with barbed wire, with an arrow saying “I agree to pay for this wall.”
“He’s a dangerous man,” he said, saying that the Mexican community is scared of what he might do as president. “We want to send a message that we want all of the U.S. to know that we don’t want Donald Trump to become president.”
Christian Ortiz, a 15-year-old child of Mexican immigrants from Minneapolis, echoed that sentiment, saying that if Trump becomes president, “immigration reform that immigrants are looking for won’t be achieved, and parents like mine and other millions of children will be deported and left parentless, and it would be a terrible thing for the country in general.”
Ortiz said the long journey was worth it to send that message. “It was a really long trip but, we came here to try to stop Trump,” he said. “Hopefully, we annoy them enough,” referring to the Republicans assembled downtown.
As speakers from different groups took to the megaphone to declare solidarity with immigrants, the Black Lives Matter movement, and workers — and in some cases, support for the Green Party presidential nominee, Jill Stein — Brad Sigal, a MIRAC organizer, welcomed the diversity of the protests.
Sigal said it was “a really excellent thing that we have people from a lot of different organizations and movements that sometimes don’t always work together,” adding that students and union organizers joined their bus trip.
“Trump is a disaster politically, but because he is so good at alienating so many groups of people, the silver lining of this awful situation is it gives us an ability to build unity, everyone who has a different progressive vision for this country.”
Max, a Minneapolis resident and member of Students for a Democratic Society, was among those protesting Trump on broader grounds. Holding a black flag, he said he wanted to help provide a “counter-narrative to the racist xenophobic message coming from inside of the building.”
When asked if he hoped to convince any Republicans of their message, he said, “I’m just out here to get the message out, I’m not hoping to have too much confrontation with them, not hoping to sway their position. We’re just here to deliver our message.”
As speakers continued on, in Spanish and in English, in the midday sun, there were chants to keep the energy up as some protesters sat and rested ahead of a post-rally march through the streets of downtown Cleveland.
Outside the Marriott nearby, some Texas Republicans took in the scene across the street, with its feedback-heavy megaphone chants and waving of black and red flags.
A man who introduced himself as Nathan — a delegate wearing a Texas flag shirt — didn’t seem bothered by the display against his party’s nominee.
“I can understand,” he said, squinting across the street, “why they’re protesting him.”
MinnPost’s Sam Brodey will be filing frequent updates from the Republican National Convention on MinnPost all week. For more from Cleveland, follow him on Twitter:@sambrodey.