Monday, August 2, 2010

At the Rally

Backs of demonstrators with signs. One man's hand-written shirt says Release My Brother Koua Fong Lee
I did attend the rally for Koua Fong Lee in St. Paul this morning. About 100 people held signs and circled outside the door to the court house while the morning sun began to beat down upon us.

It was interesting to see folks who are not veteran organizers put something like this together. In this case, particularly, there is a range of people involved -- Lee's family members, Hmong elders and community leaders, members of the Trice-Adams family and their friends (whose loved ones were killed in the accident), and people who know only what they've read in the paper but want to share their outrage.

There were some last-minute discussions among these groups to get speakers in order and decide who was running things, but it seemed to work out.

We walked and chanted a bit under the watchful eyes of half-a-dozen camera crews and journalists. (You can tell the on-camera people because they're dressed better and are more likely to be female.)

I'd estimate that 50 to 60 percent of the rallyers were Hmong, a few were African-American, and the rest were white. But it seemed to me, as I circled around the flower planter that provided the rally's focal point, that almost half the white demonstrators were called out of the picket line to be interviewed by the assorted media reps, while almost none of the Hmong or black demonstrators were. Hmmm.

A four year old boy walks with a long white t-shirt almost to his ankles. Hand lettered on the back it says MY UNCLE with a sad, crying face below
This little boy's T-shirt made the terrible situation even more real for me. I just hope Koua Lee can get home to his family as soon as possible.

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