BEMIDJI, Minn. — President Donald Trump’s 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, rally at Bemidji Aviation Services at the airport is shaping up to be a divisive event.

Shortly after the event’s announcement, at least one counter protest was already underway. Those upset with the impending presidential visit have been vocal on social media, and a few protests, both virtual and in-person, are in the works.

Many people have indicated via social media that they plan to reserve tickets to the presidential visit, with no intention of showing up, akin to an online movement to do so ahead of Trump’s Tulsa, Okla., rally in June.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

The idea behind this movement is to reserve seats for Trump campaign events and not attend, therefore inflating the campaign’s attendance numbers while leaving empty seats. It is not clear if this would have the same effect in Bemidji, because there will not be assigned seats, and it is not clear whether the Trump campaign is capping event registration at any point. Each individual is allowed to reserve two tickets per phone number.

A simultaneous rally hosted by the political organization Our Revolution Bemidji and a slew of other area organizations will protest Trump's rally from noon to 5 p.m. Friday, at 4125 Hangar Drive NW.

According to the event’s Facebook page, 7th Generation, Black Lives Matter St. Paul, and several Green Party groups are also involved in the "Defend Our Democracy" counter-rally. The event’s Facebook page stated the rally would be peaceful.

“We will be rallying against President Trump and the terrible actions of his administration that have severely damaged our democracy,” organizers wrote on the event page.

"Organizers across Bemidji and the surrounding areas started to converse about the situations of Trump's arrival, almost as soon as the story broke and continues as we speak," said Christian Taylor-Johnson, a member of Our Revolution. "This will be an organic rally with several local and community organizations that will show up, independently, in solidarity to show their political contempt and discourse for the current president and his administration."

In speaking on behalf of Our Revolution, Taylor-Johnson called the Trump administration pro-big business, anti-labor and fiscally irresponsible.

"Over the past four years, this administration has shown, through policies and vocal acts, a divisive and harmful nature toward the families and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities and the surrounding area Tribal Nations," Taylor-Johnson told Forum News Service.

This counter-protest seems to be attracting attention from other area progressive groups. According to posts in the International Falls Indivisible Facebook group, members of the organization plan to come to Bemidji with their support, and then host their own Anti-Trump rally the following day.

The event was also posted on the Minnesota Protests Facebook page.

Indivisible, a progressive organization in Bemidji, will host a "Reaffirmation of Minnesota Citizenship Values" rally, where protesters will stand on the east sidewalk along Paul Bunyan Drive in front of Paul Bunyan Park starting at 2:30 p.m.

“We are people who hold progressive values and we want to empower voters who may have felt voiceless or marginalized and unsupported in their opposition to the current decisions of the White House administration,” organizer Jean Christensen said.

Organizers expect the event will last for around an hour and said attendees will need to wear masks and stand 6 feet apart. Attendees have been encouraged to hold signs supporting political candidates or carry American flags.

Christensen said that anyone “peaceful and value-driven” is welcome to join. She said a location away from the airport was chosen to avoid being a distraction or antagonistic.

“We differ from some of the decisions, of course, that the current administration has chosen,” she said. “Basically, we want to be polite.”