State senator, House candidates back out of ‘Unity Rally’ because of ‘threats’

“I am sorry to report that our calls for peace and our planned unity rally in support of our community have been met with threats and potential for violence."

Picture of protest outside home of Bob Kroll taken by photojournalist Rebecca Brannon.

An incumbent state senator and two Republican House candidates are backing out of a “Unity Rally” that was scheduled for Saturday in Hugo, Minnesota because of “threats and potential for violence.”

The event was organized as a positive response to an unruly Black Lives Matter protest that took place last weekend outside Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll’s home. Now, just 24 hours after it was announced, the organizers of the event are backing out.

“The reprehensible protests in Hugo on August 15 weigh heavily on the minds of citizens of Hugo and the people of Minnesota. The conduct of future Democrat state Representative John Thompson and other protesters have not yet been appropriately condemned by the governor and other Democrats. Allowing such conduct to go unchecked is dangerous,” said Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, one of three Republicans who was scheduled to speak at the event.

“I am sorry to report that our calls for peace and our planned unity rally in support of our community have been met with threats and potential for violence. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, and for the safety of Hugo residents, Saturday’s unity rally in Hugo has been canceled,” he added.

Republican House candidate Elliott Engen said the Unity Rally “was orchestrated with the belief that rational and logical discussions can be had from both the left and right without emotionally-charged outrage.”

“Last week in Hugo, residents were subject to that same outrage. Following threats and possibly violent behavior on Saturday morning, I have decided it is in the best interest for the safety of Hugo residents and all involved to not go forward with the event,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook.

Fellow House candidate Donald Raleigh announced the cancellation of the event “with a heavy heart.”

“The intent was to bring the community together and have a meaningful dialogue, to share with each other and heal. But the threats of violence have put our community at further risk, and because of this, we are not able to come together and heal. I support the rule of law, not putting our families in the path of further unrest and the potential for physical altercations,” he said. “Although we will not be joining together in the park tomorrow, I would ask each of you that were planning on being there to take a moment and pray for our community, our state, and our nation.”