Listen: Bill Catlin live from rally again, Rodney King trial protesters

MPR’s Bill Catlin reports from Coalition for Police Accountability rally at Hennepin County Government Center protesting Rodney King trial acquittals. Catlin recounts moments from event and notes it’s peaceful outcome. Particpants included Keith Ellison, Spike Moss, Vernon Bellecourt, and Marv Davidov.


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BRUCE: Of course, the reaction has been widespread across this country, indeed around the world to yesterday's verdict, the acquittal of those four police officers in Los Angeles. Bill Catlin of Minnesota Public Radio News is in Minneapolis. He's sampled some public opinion in that city. Bill, what's the story?

BILL CATLIN: Well, Bruce, I'm over here at the Hennepin County Government Center in the second floor atrium in a large area. A rally that lasted about an hour and a half has just broken up. At peak, there were more than 200 people here of mixed race. There was by no means a preponderance of Black people. The crowd was quite attentive but quite peaceable as well. And I would even venture to say there was a tone of somberness to the whole event.

At the very beginning of the rally, we heard some of the more strident messages that came through urging resistance. One of the organizers, Keith Ellison of the Coalition for Police Accountability charged that the acquittal of the four police officers was criminal and the result of a cover up. He accused the government of being fascist and said people don't have to obey a fascist government.

He said injustice, again, is throughout the land. A well known activist, Spike Moss urged people to resist unjust acts by police officers on the street if they see them, and as he put it, bring it to them. He said he personally felt vindicated after years of activism and being labeled a radical. And he said to the crowd, "Now you know."

As I mentioned, the crowd was attentive but peaceable. They chanted loudly on several occasions. And I would say after about a half hour of the more strong rhetoric, we heard some more moderate voices exhorting people not to be apathetic. Among those speakers were American Indian Movement activist Vern Bellecourt and peace activist Marv Davidov.

By and large, Bruce, I would say that the overall theme here has been that the landscape has changed. The messages have ranged from, at the very least, a call to activism, urging people as well to shed any sense of trust on the government's willingness to protect civil rights at the more extreme end of things.

And then even calls to active resistance. But as things break up, it remains quite peaceable here. People talking, milling about. Some chuckling. Some looking quite somber. But overall, absolutely no violence, not even a hint of it.

BRUCE: All right. Well, Bill Catlin, thank you very much. Bill Catlin reporting from Minnesota Public Radio News of Minnesota Public Radio News from the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. It's a couple of minutes now before 12:00 o'clock noon.


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