Two opposing protests in front of a Stadium Village military recruitment office Thursday — totaling about 50 people — led to at least one fight, though no arrests were made.
Members of the Students for a Democratic Society and Anti-War Committee lined up on Washington Avenue to protest military involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Thursday morning.
In opposition to the protest, students from the University of Minnesota’s College Republicans, as well as veterans and supporters, positioned themselves in front of the recruiting office, carrying signs accusing the original protestors of being unpatriotic.
One sign read, “End the war by winning it.”
The dual protest began peacefully, with each group trying to muffle the other’s message in a shouting competition from separate sides of the street. Eventually, members of SDS, the Anti-War Committee and supporters crossed the street to protest in front of the military recruiting office, resulting in a brief physical altercation between the opposing groups leaving a few protestors pushed to the ground.
Police arrived on the scene shortly after, and the protest went on peacefully.
Sgt. Ryan Mueller, a team leader at the recruiting station, said the recruiting office re-opened last week. He said no recruitments were made Thursday.
Thursday’s protest was one of many demonstrations planned throughout the Twin Cities area in an effort to stop recruits from enlisting.
Grace Kelley, member of SDS, said she joined the student group less than a year ago in preparation for the Republican National Convention protest. The English senior said the group’s slogan for Thursday’s protest was, “Recruiters lie and people die.”
Holding a sign that read, “Save students, stop recruiters,” Linden Gawboy, who is currently unemployed, said she came to Thursday’s protest to show solidarity with the students who are against recruiting on campus. She said because the cost of tuition is rising, many students are being forced to turn to the military to help pay for expenses; she said she believes people should enter the military freely.
Beth Englund attended Thursday’s protest. Her son, Rob Emerson, came home Wednesday night from serving in Afghanistan for the last six months. He is currently stationed in Cherry Point, N.C.
Englund said although she thinks the people protesting have the right to voice their opinion, she feels the protest was disrespectful to the United States and those enlisted in the military.
Chairman of College Republicans and political science senior Abdul-Rahman Magba-Kamara called those protesting military enlistment “un-American.”
“You can be against the war, and that’s fine … but you can’t be against our military in general, that just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.