UPDATE: We just received a call from East Central Minnesota Labor Council Jane Conrad, who said that despite assurances to the St. Cloud Police Department that the event was cancelled, the VFW allowed an anti-refugee speaker from Willmar to speak in Brantsner's place and the event continued.
Another union activist attended the event--which reportedly is still going on--and reported back to Conrad.
One of the curious conservations that the group had considered Conrad's organizing of a counterprotest; apparently, those attending are under the impression that the Minnesota AFL-CIO supports their agenda and they will be complaining to the state federation headquarters in St. Paul. Given that the area labor councils are part of the state AFL-CIO, we find this assumption laughable.
Is the speaker from Willmar Bob Enos-- whom we wrote about in Rejected by Willmar voters but shared by Draz & Bennett: Bob Enos continues anti-refugee rants? We're checking on it.
Needless to say, the statement that the event would be cancelled on the part of the post and the distribution of this promise by the St. Cloud Police isn't the sort of thing that builds trust. [End update]
After learning about California Minuteman Ron Brantsner's controversial views about refugees and immigrants, the VFW Granite post in St. Cloud, Minnesota, has cancelled hosting the event.
Via St. Cloud business man and community leader Abdul Kulane's Facebook page, this message from the St. Cloud Police Department:
"The SCPD Community Crime Impact Team (CCIT) has met with members organizing the speaking event at VFW Post #428 and with the management of the VFW.
- CCIT specializes in community outreach and event planning for incidents in the City of St. Cloud and after conversing with management of the St. Cloud VFW Post #428 they determined that they were unaware of any controversy concerning the speaker and that their bylaws will not allow the event to be held at their venue.
- VFW management has advised that it will remain open for regular customers and will advise persons who arrive for the speaking event that it has been cancelled.
Being personally familiar with that overall area I can advise that minimal public parking and public area exists. Much of the area consists of private property. My suggestion would be that any gathering of the public that might still be under consideration related to this now cancelled event should be held at a location in St. Cloud that would be conducive to a public gathering and in compliance with any regulatory requirements."
According to sources, Jane Conrad, organizer for the East Central Minnesota Labor Council, worked with community members to put together a Unite Saint Cloud counter rally after hearing about Brantsner's presentation. When she contacted the St. Cloud Police Department to let them know about the lawful protest, the SPPD contacted the managers of the VFW Granite Post.
Conrad told Bluestem that the room where Branstner was to have spoken was reserved by a private individual and the VFW Granite Post had no idea about his views. As the email from the police department indicates, the event violated the veterans group's bylaws.
Affiliated with the California Minutemen, Brantsner has been speaking out for years against immigrants and refugees in Minnesota. His target has shifted from Latino immigrants to Somali refugees in recent years.
As we noted in Little Falls man discovers California Minuteman rabblerouser is simpleminded, colossal bore, Brantsner accuses refugee resettlement groups of moving Somali people into cities by "stealth," but the only stealthy behavior we see is Brantsner trying to give word-of-mouth only invitations to lectures at venues run by groups that don't know what his agenda is.
That's stealth, and he's got it.
Kudos to Conrad and the Labor Council for turning over the rock he was hiding under and sharing the light of transparency on this one--and to the VFW post for abiding by its own rules.
Photo: Ron Brantsner speaking at a word-of-mouth-only event in Little Falls, Minnesota, earlier this month.
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