Black Lives Matter booth opens at the Fair, march planned Saturday

A St. Paul man has set up a Black Lives Matter booth at the Minnesota State Fair in response to a planned protest aimed to disrupt business on Saturday.

Todd Gramenz, 25, of St. Paul said it was a peaceful and less disruptive way to share the movement's message.

"With having this booth within the State Fair we can now reach the masses and tell people that this is something that we're passionate about," he said. "It really, really satisfies us that we can actually have this voice."

Gramenz, a former Black Student Union president at the University of Minnesota-Morris, stood at the booth alone on the opening day of the fair. Other Black Lives Matter leaders have expressed concern about safety at a fair booth, following a social media backlash in response to the protest march announcement.

"A lot of people have approached the booth early in the morning questioning why are you going to protest Saturday? What is it all about?" he said.

Black Lives Matter St. Paul leader Rashad Turner said the planned protest and march up Snelling Avenue from Hamline Park is a stronger way to get the public's attention. He said the State Fair needs make more of an effort to diversify vendors.

The group did not change its plans to protest after learning that Black Lives Matter has a booth at the fair.

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