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Union members make St. Paul Regional Labor Federation kick National Guard out Labor Center

By staff |
April 15, 2021
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Trade unionists at the labor federation hall demand the National Guard get out.
Trade unionists at the labor federation hall demand the National Guard get out. (Brad Sigal)

St. Paul, MN - On April 14, union members from many unions across the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area heard reports that the National Guard was using the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation (SPRLF) building as a staging area to carry out their repression campaign against protesters calling for justice for Daunte Wright.

Within an hour, dozens of members of at least nine unions showed up to the SPRLF and began chanting and demanding that the National Guard be kicked off union property. During the next 30 minutes the president of the SPRLF, Kera Peterson, was seen meeting with an SPRLF board member inside. Shortly thereafter, they came out and told the National Guard that they had to go. Minutes later, to the cheers of union members, the National Guard loaded up their gear and left the scene.

The mobilization happened very quickly, and while it was fairly small, many union members reported being on their way there at the time that the victory took place. Additionally, on the scene there were reports that many labor leaders and members were calling their unions and the SPRLF to demand that the National Guard be removed.

The crowd was jubilant after the quick victory, and several speeches were made.

Minnesota Nurses Association member and a nurse at St John’s hospital, Sarah O’Gorman, spoke, “This is against everything I know as a nurse. I don’t support anything about what the National Guard or anything about what the police are doing. It goes against everything we are taught, against everything we stand for, and I don’t know how to explain this to people that we were letting the National Guard occupy the Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation building. So, we came down here and we got them out!”

Sheigh Freeberg is the secretary treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 17 said, “My labor movement won’t stand for the National Guard occupying our city, and what did we do tonight? We kicked them out!” In follow-up conversations, Freeberg said, “My labor movement stands for justice. My labor movement stands on the side of the oppressed, and my labor movement stands for Black Lives Matter.”

The crowd of union members remained on scene for approximately another 30 minutes, chatting in solidarity with each other before dispersing. Spirits were clearly high after the swift victory.

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