by Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
May 29, 2010
St. Paul, Minn. — Protesters rallied Saturday at Fort Snelling against Arizona’s new immigration law.
The law is set to take effect in July and requires police to ask about immigration status if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is in the country illegally. Critics say the law could lead to racial profiling.
Jesus Ramirez from St. Paul says he came to the rally to protest similar legislation proposed by Minnesota House Republicans.
“The fact that legislation has been introduced by the 42nd district, a copycat of the SB1070 law of Arizona. The formula of the law basically states that we are now guilty before we are even innocent,” Ramirez said. “We have to prove our innocence in order for us to even be legal.”
The bill, introduced by Republican state Rep. Steve Drazkowski, of Wabasha, is called the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act” and would impose many of the same controversial measures as Arizona’s new legislation.
The bill did not get a hearing in the last legislative session.
The rally was a coordinated effort between Native rights groups and immigrants’ rights groups.
The rally also aimed to call attention to Fort Snelling’s historic role as the site of the detention and killing of Dakota Indians in the 1800s.
Minneapolis teacher Zack Anderson says he came to the rally because many Minnesota school children are not taught about the history of Fort Snelling.
“When I was in 5th grade my class went on a tour of Fort Snelling and there were a bunch of guys telling us how great settlers and pioneers were,” he said. “And no mention of any genocide, no mention of the largest execution in U.S. history, no mention of a concentration camp where hundreds of people died. That is the kind of stuff that you have to learn in college.”
The campaign called “Take Down the Fort” is calling for Fort Snelling to be transferred to indigenous control.
Efforts to redevelop the site between Minneapolis and St. Paul near the Twin Cities International Airport, have been underway for years.