“The Minnesota State Fair profits millions of dollars every year, and every year continues to deny black and other minority business owners the opportunity of being a vendor at the fair,” Black Lives Matter said in a statement released on Thursday. “Both the Minnesota State Fair and St. Paul Police Department are driven by money over people and white supremacy, which made it easy to choose the location for #BlackFair.”
Protest organizer Rashad Turner told Pioneer Press the State Fair has a history of denying people of color the opportunity to be vendors.
“When I look around the Fair, I don’t see an equitable amount of businesses owned by people of color,” Turner said. “Yet, if you look at what people call the ‘help,’ you see plenty of people of color picking up trash and taking tickets, etc., but very few black-owned businesses as vendors.”
“The first Saturday of the Fair is one of their money-making days. We just hope to slow that down and continue to bring attention to the injustices that plague our community,” he said.
State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer said the selection process is not based on ethnicity.
“The truth is, there’s all kinds of exhibitors of every ethnicity involved at the State Fair. Everybody’s there,” Hammer said.
“I guarantee them that if they wanted exhibit space at the Fair, they could have it. We would find them space, which would be a far more effective way of communicating — they’d reach a much wider audience that way. We are a forum for ideas; that’s what the Fair is about.”