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Ethiopian activists, Trump supporters protest Biden's Minnesota stop

30November 2021

Hundreds of people ranging from Ethiopian activists to supporters of former President Donald Trump protested on Tuesday during President Joe Biden’s Minnesota visit.

The Democrat’s first visit to the state since being elected president attracted protesters with an array of causes, lining a mile and half of freeway outside of Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount. Biden visited the college to tout the infrastructure law that will bring millions of dollars to Minnesota for roads, bridges and public transportation.

Many Trump supporters had been outside for hours along Hwy. 52, awaiting Biden’s arrival with trucks, vulgar signage and Eminem music. “Trump 2024” and “Build Back Broke” flags decorated the road.

The president’s supporters were outnumbered but enthusiastic. Linda Larson of Rosemount was the sole Biden supporter for a time on a stretch of the freeway. As Larson stopped to rest her arms after holding up a Biden-Harris sign for hours, a man shouted an expletive at her.

“I think it’s a sad commentary about our nation,” Larson said, referring to the outburst and other interactions she had with Trump supporters Tuesday. “I want the president to know that we’re here, too.”

Ethiopian Minnesotans on all sides of the country’s civil war made up the largest group in attendance. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in a yearlong conflict there. Nearly a half-million people in Tigray face famine under a monthslong government blockade, the Associated Press reported last week.

Solyana Debalke said she was out Tuesday to remind Biden and the United States about what their people are going through.

“We are out here to be a voice for our people back in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is currently under attack, we’re in a war,” said Debalke.

Still, most of the Ethiopians out protesting Tuesday voted for Biden, said Heaven Bekele.

“We’re not against him, we’re against his foreign policy against Ethiopia,” Bekele said.

A large number of Oromo Minnesotans were in attendance as well. Minnesota is home to the biggest Oromo community outside of Ethiopia. Activist Makarim Abda said the humanitarian aid from the U.S. and other countries is not going to humanitarian causes, and many civilians are still facing genocide.

“There are human rights violations in Ethiopia that need more attention,” Abda said.

Other groups were demonstrating near the college as well, dotting Hwy. 52 as cars sped by. A handful of people protested COVID vaccine mandates, and two members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals stood with signs, one of them dressed as a dinosaur. PETA is calling on Biden to appoint a new National Institutes of Healthdirector who will end scientific testing on animals.

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