The Black Lives Matter group in St. Paul, Minnesota has announced that they will intentionally disrupt the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday, August 29.
The group, titling its effort #BlackFair, said they would march from Hamline Park down Snelling Avenue to the State Fair through traffic, intending to demonstrate against police shootings and what they call racial inequity. Their statement reads:
The Minnesota State Fair profits millions of dollars every year, and every year continues to deny black and other minority business owners the opportunity of being a vendor at the fair. Both the Minnesota State Fair and St. Paul Police Department are driven by money over people and white supremacy, which made it easy to choose the location for #BlackFair.
Twincities.com reports that protest organizer Rashad Turner stated:
The first Saturday of the Fair is one of their money-making days. We just hope to slow that down and continue to bring attention to the injustices that plague our community. When I look around the Fair, I don’t see an equitable amount of businesses owned by people of color. Yet, if you look at what people call the “help,” you see plenty of people of color picking up trash and taking tickets, etc., but very few black-owned businesses as vendors.
State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer called Turner’s perspective inaccurate, asserting, “The truth is, there’s all kinds of exhibitors of every ethnicity involved at the State Fair. Everybody’s there. Our process for selecting commercial exhibits is based on products and services and institutions that would offer something new and contribute something to the Fair. … And that selection process has nothing to do with ethnicity.”
The fair begins August 27, ending on Labor Day, September 7. It drew 1,824,830 visitors in 2014.