Anti-Sharia, ANTIFA, and Assault

Counter-protesters clashed with law enforcement, rally attendees, and journalist.

Image Credit: Preya Samsundar/Alpha News

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Chaos erupted at the State Capitol Saturday afternoon as counter-protesters clashed with anti-Sharia Law rally goers.

Protesters, Ralliers, and Police Officers Collide at the Capitol

Alpha News reported last week of the ACT for America protest at Minnesota’s Capitol building where pro-Trump supporters were planning to join together and rally against Sharia Law entering the United States.

However, the Twin Cities General Defense Fund,  ANTIFA, Students for a Democratic Society – the University of Minnesota Chapter, along with several other groups showed up to rally, standing on the Capitol steps protesting those inside and supporting the Muslim community. Several hundred people joined the counter-protest outside in near triple digit heat.

Several leaders of local groups came out to counter what they called anti-Muslim rhetoric, but organizers of the event say protesters outside had it wrong.

Ben Harris, one of the organizers of the anti-Sharia Law protest in St. Paul, told Alpha News that the event is anti-Sharia, not anti-Muslim. They are protesting things like female genital mutilations and honor killings, stating they don’t hate or have a problem with Muslims. Approximately 100 people attended the event. Harris also told Alpha News that he attempted to reach out to organizers of the counter-protest on several occasions to create an open dialogue and have a peaceful discussion, but received no response.

Jaylani Hussein, Director for Center of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke to the crowd and welcomed both counter-protesters and those inside the Capitol rallying against Sharia Law to join them at a mosque later in the evening to celebrate a meal in a block party style celebration in honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Organizers insured security was tight with several dozen officers on hand from various law enforcement agencies around the Twin Cities to provide support.

Counter-protesters remained peaceful until approximately 1:00 p.m., when a group of anti-Sharia Law supporters came with signs in hand, standing at the end of the Capitol Mall. As soon as the signs appeared, protesters rushed towards the end of the Mall where chaos ensued.

Seven people were arrested on Capitol grounds, five from the counter-protest group.

Water bottles and pieces of paper were thrown at anti-Sharia Law supporters. Several fights broke out between supporters and counter-protesters, but officers were quick to break them up.

Counter-protesters were quick to turn on law enforcement and media for covering the anti-Sharia law protesters shouting, “Why are you protecting the Nazis?” One counter-protester shouted at a cameraman, “Stop normalizing them!”

My Personal Experience With ANTIFA

Counter-protesters attacked me personally after police escorted the anti-Sharia Law supporters into a nearby building.

While following counter-protesters back to the Capitol, a young man, who was part of the security team hired by ANTIFA, approached me asking, “Who do you work for?” I responded “Alpha News” stating, “we cover Minnesota politics.” He told me I needed to leave, in which I replied, “I have a right to be here, this is a public place.”

He then grabbed my work phone, which was mounted on a portable selfie-stick, shoved me out of the way and threw the phone several feet away, in front of a line of State Patrol Officers. The screen was completely shattered, but still recording.

As I went to pick the phone up, I asked the officers, “Did you see that? Aren’t you going to do anything?” They didn’t respond, just smiled. They then confirmed that I could file a police report with St. Paul Police.

I walked back toward the crowd continuing to film. A younger black man then started harassing me, threatening me, and telling me to get lost. I ignored him and continued to film until they disbanded. As I walked back, another member of ANTIFA stole my personal cell phone. They apparently turned it off so I would not be able to track it.

As I walked back to my car, I asked a state trooper if law enforcement was stationed around Capitol grounds, as I had parked near the light rail station. He told me that there were officers around, but I did not see any.

As I sat in my car, I saw several members of the counter-protest. A white man, who also worked security for ANTIFA, a white woman with green streaks in her blonde hair, and a black woman with red highlights approached my car and banged on my window yelling at me, “You need to get out of here or you’re going to get trouble.” They began to taking photos of me and waving people over. At that moment, I sped off.


Preya Samsundar

Preya Samsundar was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities this Spring with a B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, with a minor in Strategic Communications. Preya has previously worked on several State Campaign Races.