MINNEAPOLIS – Protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” and hoisting signs stopped the gathering of US Senator Amy Klobuchar in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Sunday evening after occupying the event for more than an hour.
Klobuchar was the Hennepin County lawyer when Burrell, who was 16 at the time, was convicted. The conviction was eventually quashed by the Minnesota Supreme Court, but Burrell was convicted again in a second trial overseen by Klobuchar’s successor. A recent Associated Press investigation detailed many potential flaws in the case, questioning Burrell’s conviction and the role of Klobuchar in his supervision. Activists have since called on her to end her presidential campaign.
“Amy Klobuchar has power and influence – if she really wanted to help us free him, she could, and she doesn’t,” said Leslie Redmond, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, who helped organize the protest . “It is the story of two cities. There is a real distinction between how we see Amy Klobuchar, and that is because she continues to hide behind her past or progressive values, but she is actually not as progressive as she sees it. . “
Klobuchar campaign director Justin Buoen said he was disappointed with the turn of events that prevented the senator from speaking to voters in her home country two days before voting in their main election on Tuesday.
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“We had negotiations and we agreed with the organizers of the demonstration to meet the senator on the spot,” he told reporters. “She was in the room, ready to meet them and they changed the conditions and decided they didn’t want to meet her. So I’m disappointed that it happened tonight. “
Redmond said the protesters wanted Klobuchar to acknowledge their concerns on stage but that the campaign would not agree.
Klobuchar has so far struggled to assemble a diverse coalition of support, gaining only 1% of black support in the South Carolina primary, according to an exit poll. Fellow Midwesterner and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg ended his presidential campaign earlier Sunday amid similar failures to appeal to black voters.
But Buoen dismissed the protests on Sunday as evidence of wider concerns over the senator’s appeal.
“I don’t know that an event is emblematic of anything,” he said. “I am disappointed and hope that we can organize a meeting in the future.”