Posted: 04/16/16 19:03
by Dave Mindeman
I attended MinnRoast 2016 last night. As usual, it was a great time with lots of political humor. But there were a couple of unscripted parts that are worthy of some attention.
During the Mayor Betsy Hodges segment (she read a True/False Pop Quiz which was very funny), she had a part which mentioned a protest that occurred by her home while she was at the office....and her husband let the protesters in and had a conversation with them. Now, Mayor Hodges did a little bit of a humorous take about that and her concern that her husband would just go ahead with doing that...but she was interrupted by a loud horn sound from the balcony. I was sitting in the balconey and saw a young black man stand up and start shouting at the Mayor about the Jamar Clark incident.
"A man is dead. It is not a joke."
A couple of other people joined in and held up a banner referring to Jamar Clark. They were angry and they yelled about the Mayor's response to the killing of Clark by Minneapolis police.
Now, to her credit, the Mayor calmly stood on stage and let them have their say. Some ushers came to the protesters location, trying to move them along. Since it was MinnRoast, the ushers didn't exactly have a game plan about how to diffuse the situation - but the protesters left on their own accord, shouting some additional words as they did.
Mayor Hodges said a few sentences in reference to what the protesters had said and tried to show that she cared about how they felt.
However, using a protest at her home as a background for part of a humorous monologue probably was not the wisest use of her time. The rest of her time was very funny and self-deprecating....and I am sure that the joke in question was meant in a self-deprecating way as well. But obviously, the protesters saw it differently.
Now the protesters were not just spontaneously reacting either. They had an air horn and a banner that they unfurled. Obviously, this was a planned protest (although I am not sure how they got it through the security check that MinnRoast had at the entrance) but they were going to protest regardless.
And they came back again as well.
When Rep. Keith Ellison did a parody song a little later, he, too, was the brunt of their displeasure. More air horn sounds and shouting - however, Keith chose to keep playing his guitar and made no reference to the disturbance.
Sen. Al Franken also received some of their condemnation...although Al tried to ease the tension by acknowledging how terrible this incident and similar incidents across the country have been and that they needed to be addressed.
The comedy skits and monologues continued. The tension was eased by continuing the show - but it is clear evidence that the anger and frustration with police and city hall is not over.
The evening had its great moments. A film by Dayton's sons was absolutely hilarious....and we learned quite quickly that Mayor Chris Coleman is not going to have any kind of singing career.
But it was also a night for sober reflection that this community has a lot more work to do.