Hunger Strike

Snub leaves protest group wanting answers—and breakfast

For 12 years now, protest group AlliantAction has held Wednesday-morning candle vigils outside Alliant Techsystem's (formerly Honeywell) premises in Edina to protest the company's war profiteering.

With the business's headquarters slated to move to Eden Prairie in the coming weeks, the protest group sent out letters informing the tenants of a nearby office building that AlliantAction would follow suit and relocate their vigil to the new site in advance of Alliant Tech's move. They went before the Eden Prairie City Council to describe their protest activities and explain their history. Everything appeared to be in order.

But when AlliantAction members tried to grab breakfast at Classic Market Cafe after their first vigil in Eden Prairie earlier this month, they were met with a chilly reception.

You'll get this Danish when you pry it from my cold, dead hands
You'll get this Danish when you pry it from my cold, dead hands

"At first, we were told by a manager that we couldn't park [in the café's parking lot]," says one protestor. "When we asked if we could at least eat there today, we were told we weren't welcome and that the café was for tenants only."

That came as a surprise to the group, members say, because they had approached management a week earlier and gotten the okay to eat at the restaurant, leaving some wondering whether outside forces had a hand in the shunning.

Market Cafe's owner, Jeff Sampson, would neither confirm nor deny he received outside pressure.

"I'm a tenant here and I follow rules just like anyone else," he said. "It was my decision based on information I had at the time. My job is to satisfy the tenants of this office tower." —Matt Snyders

Suits at Wal-Mart

It's not easy being Wal-Mart. First, the retail giant gets shamed into providing employees something resembling health insurance. Then it gets stuck with higher prices from Chinese manufacturers. Now it's forced to answer a local man's charge that the company discriminates against minorities.

In a recently filed federal lawsuit, David Stanley, an African American former assistant manager at the Maple Grove Wal-Mart, says his bosses gave him work that his white colleagues didn't have to do, singled him out for micromanagement, and when he complained, transferred him to a different store. Stanley's attorney, Debra Topham, declined to elaborate on her client's case.

Wal-Mart's lawyers didn't return calls seeking comment, but in the answer to the complaint, the company asserts that it isn't at fault. —Jonathan Kaminsky

Free Speech Group in Session. No Talking Allowed.

When the Republican National Convention hits St. Paul in September, the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis will be the headquarters for the Republican National Committee, a likely high-value site for demonstrators. So last Wednesday the City Council's Free Speech Work Group met to continue its preparations for protests.

At the meeting, City Councilman Paul Ostrow favored a proposal, based on a D.C. ordinance, to require activist groups to apply for a permit.

Unlike full council meetings, committee meetings don't have to allow for public comment, so audience members opposed to the plan silently held up signs indicating their disapproval of Ostrow's proposal. There are many disturbing aspects of the proposed ordinance, says Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police Brutality. For example, it gives the police chief sole discretion over who gets permits, and allows him to change any aspect of the permit right up to the time of assembly.

Despite the controversy, there has yet to be a public hearing on the issue. —Beth Walton

Do-It-Yourself Perdition

It was a headline that only an old-school Catholic could love: "Minnesota Woman Will Excommunicate Herself, Says Bishop."

Next week, Kathy Redig, a Catholic chaplain in a Winona hospital, will take part in an unsanctioned ordination ceremony—she's becoming a priest. Her bishop, Bernard Harrington, complained to the Catholic News Agency that in doing so, Redig is causing "more confusion than good."

But there is good news for the good bishop: Once Redig has finished her ordination ceremony, she is as good as gone from his tribe. Harrington need file no excommunication paperwork—by violating ancient church thinking on women in the priesthood, he said, she has "excommunicated herself," adding snidely: "It makes my job easier." —Jeff Severns Guntzel

 
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