Union workers booted National Guardsmen from the St. Paul Labor Center Thursday, earning praise from communists.
The Center is a small building located in central St. Paul operated by the AFL-CIO union. Members of the Minnesota National Guard briefly used the structure as a staging area amid riots across the Twin Cities region Wednesday night. However, the troops were promptly kicked out by union workers — even though the Guardsmen had been given a key to the building.
Cliff Willman is a union worker, a registered nurse and a member of the Board of Directors of the Minnesota Nurses Association. He also helped remove the Guard from the Center and wrote about it later in for an ultra-progressive news outlet called “Left Voice.”
Willman reports that he and his comrades “informed the soldiers that union members support the communities harmed by police violence and racism and that the Labor Center was off limits to armed forces participating in repressing protests across the Twin Cities.”
He then uses communist language to describe how “workers spoke with Guard members, expressing understanding of the soldiers’ working class background and orders, but imploring them to break ranks and join the anti-racist movement sparked by the murders of Black people by the police.”
The small group of workers also earned praise from “Fight Back! News,” a communist newspaper that described the situation as a “swift victory.”
Kieran Knutson, president of the Communications Workers of America Minneapolis Local 7250, echoed that the unionists removed the Guard from the building quickly. “I was a little surprised at how fast it went,” she said after the fact, according to the Pioneer Press.
However, not everybody is proud of the union workers.
Minnesota Rep. David Lislegard, a self-described “proud labor Democrat,” asked that the workers apologize for their actions.
Republican House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt took a stronger stance, demanding that the workers both apologize and resign from their union jobs, per the Pioneer Press.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a 25-year National Guard veteran himself, also weighed in Thursday night.
“This is unacceptable,” he said on Twitter. “They can’t ‘go home’ — this is their home.”
Meanwhile, the National Guard maintains a highly visible presence throughout the Twin Cities as riots and demonstrations continue after a man, Daunte Wright, was shot by a policewoman who apparently mistook her gun for a taser.