'Build the wall' painting at the U of M: 'Hurtful' to some, but free speech

A "Build the wall" painting has not gone over well with critics.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Some pro-Donald Trump, pro-wall paintings at the University of Minnesota have quickly drawn the ire of critics, with the messages being scrawled over – and one group even planning a rally in response.

The paintings

The University of Minnesota College Republicans painted the Washington Avenue bridge panels in Minneapolis with messages that support the current Republican Party nominee for president, Donald Trump. It took place during the annual Paint the Bridge event, where registered student groups and departments can apply to get space on the bridge.

They were happy with the results, so posted about it on Twitter and Facebook.

There's one with the group's info, one with "Trump Pence 2016" on it (for Trump's vice presidential pick, Mike Pence), and then one that says "Build the wall."

The Facebook post has 294 of those "angry" reactions, and, as I'm sure you can imagine, a lot of comments.

We've reached out to the U of M and the College Republicans for more information.

'Hurtful and hostile and painful'

The "Build the wall" panel in particular did not go over well with one organization

The group Navigate MN (a "leadership development program" for young immigrants in the state) said the message "echos [sic] the anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant racist rhetoric that has instigated violence across the nation." Here's their full statement on Facebook.

The group then organized a rally response at the site of the painted panels on the bridge. Titled

"Love trumps Hate,"

the rally is set for 4 p.m. Saturday. It specifically mentions it is a non-violent rally.

"Stand up together and let's all share the message that this is our community and we stand together against hate!!!" the description reads.

Braulio Carrasco, a volunteer adviser for Navigate, told GoMN the organization's response was not about supporting one candidate or the other. It's about the message that the "Build the wall" portion sends to the immigrant students who walk across that bridge every day – the way he did when he was a student there.

"I'm an immigrant," he said. "I would cross that bridge thousands of times in just one week. I'm the first one to go to college in my family, and alone, by itself, trying to go to college is a challenge when you're the first one doing it. It becomes even more pressing of an issue when you feel like the environment on campus is telling you you don't belong there, we don't want you there and you should leave."

He later added: "Here's the thing about hostilities toward communities of color. ... When you're doing messages like that, that is hurtful and hostile and painful to our psyche, to our heart, to our being. And it doesn't, the scars and the pain doesn't show like if you punch me or kick me, but it's the same thing."

Carrasco said they're standing in solidarity with all immigrants. How they arrived here doesn't matter, they're standing in solidarity, he said.

"Whether you're Hmong, Somali, it doesn't matter. If you're from an immigrant community you get it. You feel it and you understand," he said.

University enrollment figures show about 12.6 percent of students at the Twin Cities campus are international. Just over 3 percent of students are Hispanic, with about 4.3 percent black. Nearly two-thirds of the students are white.

Vandalism and a painting in response

And then there are the other paintings in response.

According to this photo from a Facebook user, the "Trump Pence 2016" and "Build the wall" paintings were painted over in gold with the message "Stop white supremacy."

And the fraternity Minnesota Betas, which was founded by mostly Latino men, responded by painting a panel next to the College Republicans' messages. They posted photos to Facebook.

The U of M's response

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler, in a letter Saturday afternoon, said the painted panels are about free speech.

"People in our community may disagree with the sentiment expressed," Kaler said, adding that while the university "values" free speech, the vandalism of the panel (that'd be the gold paint over it) "is not the way to advance a conversation."

Kaler stressed the campus needs to "ensure the free flow of ideas" while also being a campus with a welcoming climate.

"We encourage all who find some protected speech distasteful or offensive to engage in more protected speech," he concluded.

Read his full letter here.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 6.26.50 PM

Minnesota nurse's story about her battle with COVID-19 goes viral

A month later, Ashley Walter is on a hard road to recovery.

Adam Thielen

Report: Still on COVID-19 list, Thielen not expected to play Sunday

Thielen was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list on Monday.

Image from iOS (19)

Mask-wearing, distancing a common sight on MOA's Black Friday

Thousands of shoppers were out and about on Black Friday despite the COVID-19 situation.

Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz, MDH react to record-setting COVID-19 deaths

Minnesota can expect further bad news over the coming weeks.

covid-19, coronavirus

Record 101 COVID-19 deaths reported in Minnesota

The figures are from Wednesday, with no update provided on Thanksgiving.

Screen Shot 2020-11-27 at 9.29.12 AM

Target reveals its 'Cyber Week' online deals

The sales will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 5.

Minneapolis police

Mayor Frey, Minneapolis police chief reveal new 'no-knock' policy

The new policy for Minneapolis Police Department was announced Wednesday.

Teddy Bridgewater

Coller: It's a what-if Sunday with Teddy Bridgewater's return

Matthew Coller writes a weekly Vikings column for BMTN, with more of his work found at Purple Insider.

Ambulance hospital emergency

15-month-old girl's death being investigated by police in Fargo

The child died four days after being found unresponsive.

Related

What's Joe Biden doing in Duluth? Trying to help a Democrat in a close race

The race in Minnesota's 8th Congressional District was very tight in 2014.

The next day: Hillary Clinton speaks about the results

Even though Donald Trump is headed for the presidency, there are a number of Minnesota races that weren't called Tuesday night.

Beyond the headlines: 5 takeaways from the final presidential debate

Digging deeper than the "nasty woman" quote and who "won."

Streaming or TV? How people watched the second presidential debate

A lot of you turned to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to watch the debate.

Facebook's new endorse a candidate feature is a glorified status update

Because what we all need is more chances to talk politics in Facebook comments.

Live updates: Checking in on Election Day

Checking in on Minnesota – and the country – as Election Days rolls on.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: Reactions to the St. Cloud mall attack

Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump comment on the stabbing attack at a St. Cloud mall.