‘Emancipation procession’ reaches City Hall

Marchers gathered in the City Hall rotunda. Keith Schubert/MSR News

An “emancipation procession” led by La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (The Assembly for Civil Rights) made its way from Brooklyn Center to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s office on Monday afternoon. “We are here to show the dignity of immigrants who are often criminalized and marginalized,” said Asamblea board member Samuel Estes.

The procession started in St. Cloud on Sunday and ended Monday evening at the State Capitol where they plan to stay for 15 days. At the Capitol, the group plans to fast every day from 7 am to 7 pm, and the group’s president, Antonia Alvarez, will fast for the entirety of the stay.

Consisting of around 40 immigrants, activists and community members, the group packed into Frey’s office and demanded the City take action on issues like ending mass incarceration, establishing municipal ID’s, and providing more affordable housing.

“We need change. We are tired of nice people but no action,” Alvarez said to Jamie Makepeace, a senior policy aide to Frey. “We have been working on these issues for seven to eight years, and we have not seen anything happen,” she added.

Antonia Alvarez (left) talks to City Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison (right) as Pablo Tapia (with sign) and others listen. Keith Schubert/MSR News

Asamblea member and activist Adriana Cerrillo told Makepeace that the City needs to take more action right now. “He has not done enough,” she said. “If he claims to be the mayor of everyone, he needs to have a backbone.”

After leaving Frey’s office, the group went down to the City Hall rotunda where they were joined by Minneapolis Councilmembers Jeremiah Ellison and Andrew Johnson.

Alvarez spoke to the group of supporters and the council members and expressed her concern for the lack of funding in education and the increased funding for prisons. “They see our children as future clients of the jails,” she said.

Ellison and Johnson both spoke as well and said they support many of things the group is calling for. Ellison said that municipal IDs are a priority for him, not only at the city level, but also as something that should be added to their legislative agenda and fought for at the state level.

Maria Elena Gutierrez, who has been with the procession since it started in St. Cloud, talked to the MSR about how the issues they are fighting for have affected her. She said, “Our families have been torn apart because of the corruption of the system.”

The group also made stops at the Stearns County Jail, Brooklyn Center City Hall and St. Anthony City Hall.

 

Updated 4/25/2018