Trump Faces Protests In Minneapolis During His Campaign Rally
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Now to Minneapolis, where President Donald Trump is holding his first campaign rally since the impeachment inquiry began. The visit has sparked controversy across the city from officials who want the campaign to cover extra costs for security to residents in the Democratic stronghold, thousands of whom are planning to protest. Briana Bierschbach from Minnesota Public Radio has more.
BRIANA BIERSCHBACH, BYLINE: The backlash to Trump's visit started immediately. The city-owned Target Center tried to charge the Trump campaign $530,000 in extra security and other costs to Minneapolis. The campaign has unpaid rally invoices for extra costs to cities around the country. One of the most vocal opponents has been Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, a Democrat who said he couldn't block Trump from visiting, but he could try to make him pay for it.
JACOB FREY: It's not extortion to expect that somebody pay their bills, even when they really don't want to pay their bills. It is my job to watch out for the taxpayers of the city of Minneapolis. And honestly, that's something that the president should be doing as well.
BIERSCHBACH: But Trump's campaign threatened to sue the city if it blocked the president from rallying without payment. After 24 hours of legal threats and back-and-forth between the president and the mayor on Twitter, the campaign worked out a deal with the venue where they won't pay anything extra upfront. That means the rally is going on as planned, and protesters are getting ready.
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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: No Trump. No KKK. No racist U.S.A.
BIERSCHBACH: To counter the thousands of Trump supporters expected to attend the rally, thousands plan to show up outside of the arena in opposition to the president. They're making signs and planning logistics. Hundreds of marshals have been trained to try and keep protesters safe. Giselda Gutierrez works with the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, which posted a dump Trump protest event on Facebook that's already attracted thousands of responses.
GISELDA GUTIERREZ: Well, when I read it, at first, I was just a little shocked - like, wow, he's coming here to Minneapolis. I mean, I felt pretty upset reading that, you know? And I definitely felt like, oh, no, there's no way. You know, we're not going to let him just do that peacefully, you know, not here.
BIERSCHBACH: Minneapolis is among the most Democratic cities in the country. It sits in the congressional district that elected Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar last fall with 78% of the vote. In 2016, only 18% of voters in the city backed Trump for president. And it's a city with a large immigrant community, including tens of thousands of refugees from Somalia. Jaylani Hussein is executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He blames Trump's rhetoric for hate crimes in his community. Several East African-owned businesses in Minneapolis were vandalized last month.
JAYLANI HUSSEIN: And we believe this will be the case for this week as this president comes to continue to further pin neighbors against one another.
BIERSCHBACH: But Trump has strong support outside of the Twin Cities. He came within 1.5 percentage points of beating Hillary Clinton in Minnesota, a state that hasn't picked a Republican for president since Richard Nixon's landslide win in 1972. Trump is already pledging to win Minnesota in 2020. His campaign is using the rally to mobilize and train volunteers. Lisa Schneegans is a Trump supporter from the suburbs and says she's excited he's taking the fight right into Minneapolis.
LISA SCHNEEGANS: But I think it's really important for him to go into the inner city because that's really where we have to win hearts and minds. And once he shows that he's ready to take on the belly of the beast, I think it's going to be a huge thing for the campaign.
BIERSCHBACH: Supporters have already started camping out for the rally.
For NPR News, I'm Briana Bierschbach in Minneapolis.
(SOUNDBITE OF SAINT SANTIAGO'S "AFROGALAXIAN 2") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.