Protesters march near Minnesota State Fair to raise concerns about law enforcement

State fair protest
A group of about 50 people marched and blocked traffic on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, near the Minnesota State Fair, for about an hour on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 25, 2018.
Nina Moini | MPR News

A group of about 50 people marched and blocked traffic outside the Minnesota State Fair for about an hour on Saturday afternoon.

The protesters identified themselves as a "coalition of Black Lives Matter and anti-police crimes groups," and said they wanted to call attention to fatal police shootings in the state.

They marched along about a mile of Snelling Avenue outside the fairgrounds, first in the northbound lanes to the state fair gates, then in the southbound lanes back to their starting point at Hamline Park in St. Paul.

One organizer, Trahern Crews of Black Lives Matter's Minnesota chapter, said protest tactics such as disrupting traffic are meant to raise awareness of issues affecting people of color in the state.

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"We're going to have a lot of politicians out here today who are going to be talking about equality, but we don't really see equity," he said. "We see things getting worse — we see the wealth gap getting worse, we see the housing gap getting worse, and when it comes to police killings and murders and homicides, that's definitely getting worse."

An organizer of Saturday's protest and march, Andre Friedman, said he knows the family of Thurman Blevins, the man who died in a Minneapolis police shooting in June. Friedman said the state fair is a good place to bring a message to many different people.

"We chose the fair because it is where our counterparts, our citizens, our residents are today — and we want to raise awareness among those residents that we have an issue with our police departments in both St. Paul and Minneapolis," he said.

This was the fourth year in a row the group protested at the fair.

The St. Paul Police Department assisted with traffic control during the protest to ensure marchers and drivers stayed safe.