Tension high as protesters clash during ‘March against Sharia’ rally
Updated: 4:45 p.m. | Updated: 1:55 p.m.
Tension grew throughout the afternoon as hundreds of people clashed outside the State Capitol Saturday during the planned ‘March against Sharia’ rally and a protest meant to counter it. Minnesota State Patrol troopers arrested seven people outside on the Capitol lawn as attendees shouted at each other. No injuries were reported. Troopers stood in a line between the two groups. People chanted, “let them go!”
Suspects were booked into the Ramsey county jail and face charges ranging from disorderly conduct to obstructing the legal process. Two of the seven arrested also face assault charges.
ACT for America, a Washington-based organization staged ‘March against Sharia Law’ rallies throughout the country Saturday. In the Capitol rotunda in St. Paul, speakers told more than 100 people about the dangers of lax immigration, the potential influence of Sharia law and the need to protect the U.S. Constitution. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists ACT for America as an extremist group. Teri Law and her husband James were among the attendees calling for Americans to guard against Sharia law and the cultural practices in some Muslim countries, like female genital mutilation and a lack of gender equality.
“We’re pro-American,” said Teri Law. “And we’re not Islamophobes. We’re simply against things that don’t stand for American law. We’re for American law. American law is sovereign here in the United States, And that’s the way it needs to stay.”
Tim Nelson (@timnelson_mpr) June 10, 2017 Outside, as temperatures hovered around 90 degrees, opponents said the rally represented bias against Muslim-Americans and called for racial unity. They chanted, “our Muslim brothers are under attack. What do we do? Stand up, fight back.”
The gathering of more than 300 people was mostly quiet, until a confrontation among ACT for America attendees and opponents began outside, near the state’s Centennial Office Building. The chanting crowd outside forced Capitol security to escort some of the rally attendees from the building for their own safety.
On Friday, an alliance of faith-based and human rights organizations invited people from all backgrounds to gather at the Capitol to stand against the planned ACT for America rally and its message. Bill Hart a member of the Industrial Workers of the World union said he came to the Capitol because he believes Muslims in Minnesota are under attack.
“They use the prospect of Sharia law to whoop up fear against Muslims and you really can’t separate that fear of Muslims and that hatred of Muslims from an overall distaste and opposition to immigrants in general,” said Hart.
A unity celebration was planned for later Saturday evening in the Twin Cites.