Rhonda Silence

Two demonstrations–BIPOC and Trump Train–line Highway 61 in Grand Marais

For several months, a demonstration has been held at 5 p.m. each Friday along Highway 61 in Grand Marais with participants holding signs calling for justice and equality for the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) community. In recent weeks, another group has lined the highway with its own message supporting President Donald Trump, the military, and the police.

The BIPOC group has numbered from 20 to 100 participants each week. Hear a related story about their first gathering on May 29. The newer group, with large American flags and Trump 2020 flags numbered about 25 on Friday, September 18.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence visited the scene and spoke with one of the participants who said the Trump supporters did not decide to demonstrate on Friday evenings to antagonize the social justice group. Colton Thompson of Grand Marais said Friday is the only evening when he is off before 6:30 p.m.

Thompson said he will be on the sidewalk alongside Highway 61 to show pride in America every Friday, as well as Saturday, at least until the upcoming presidential election on November 3. He invited any like-minded individuals to join his group.

Thompson explained that the Trump rally was launched after Gary Radloff, Sr., the Grand Marais Municipal Campground host was asked to remove his “Thin Blue Line” flag at his campsite. Radloff willingly removed the flag when he was informed that he could not fly a political sign at his campsite, which is technically city property. See the related story here.

After that incident, a handful of people have gathered almost every Friday to show solidarity for law enforcement. The group has grown and has now become an endorsement for President Donald Trump.

Asked what he would say to anyone who may be intimidated by the group. Thompson said the Trump supporters don’t disagree with them. He said they all support justice for Breonna Taylor and he was glad to hear the Taylor family had received some justice. He said many of his group also press for police reform in such cases.

As far as trying to cause conflict, Thompson said, “We’re not trying to start anything. We just like to voice our opinion as this is America and it is a free country.”

Although there was a call to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office about possible conflict, the only police presence was seen when what appeared to be a car club went through, with about five muscle cars revving engines and speeding past the protest. A sheriff’s office squad car pulled out of a side street and pulled one of the vehicles over.

Otherwise, it was a relatively peaceful evening, with the two demonstration groups standing apart from one another.
One lone participant was on the corner by Java Moose. Tim Ramey of Hovland wasn’t joining either group, but held up a sign saying, “Jesus’ love matters.”

Here’s WTIP’s Rhonda Silence in conversation with one Trump Rally participant, Colton Thompson of Grand Marais.