The physical altercation ensued as a speaker discussed opposition to Critical Race Theory, a school of thought meant to combat systemic racism.
The conference, with around 100 people in attendance at the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead, was hosted by the Center of the American Experiment. It was part of the Raise Our Standards tour “to counter the ‘awakened’ political movement invading Minnesota’s public schools, turning them into ideological battlegrounds and threatening the quality of our children’s education.”
Vanessa Renee Clark, 35, an activist and organizer of the Red River People Over Profits Initiative, was handcuffed after a brief fight with a man.
“I was arrested for ripping an All Lives Matter button,” Clark said. “I’m fine.”
Moorhead Police later reported that Clark was cited for disorderly driving and released from the scene. A report is being sent to the Moorhead City Attorney’s Office for consideration of potential charges for the others involved, Moorhead Police Sgt. Joe Brannan said in a press release.
Faith Shields-Dixon, a Black Lives Matter organizer from Fargo-Moorhead, attended the meeting. Towards the end of one of the speeches, Shields-Dixon began arguing with the speaker and began to walk out of the room when the altercation occurred. She repeatedly asked the police why the man had not been arrested either.
“He kicked him, he came after me,” Shields-Dixon told police. “The police were just standing there and they didn’t do anything. He should be handcuffed.”
Opponents of critical race theory believe it is inherently racist and will lead to shaming whites as oppressors for the color of their skin.
Proponents of Critical Race Theory believe racism is a social construct built into the American way of life to keep the current social hierarchy in place and say a change is needed in the education system. Minnesota, according to the speakers, has begun to implement certain practices that flow from critical race theory.
In North Dakota, several current Fargo Public School board members are facing a recall in part because an organization called ND Parents Against Distance Learning believes these members are trying to include certain aspects of the theory. criticism of race in education.
The theory originated in the 1970s and 1980s to challenge the idea that in the decades following the civil rights movement, racial inequalities had been resolved and affirmative action is no longer necessary, according to Education. Week.
In recent years, the theory has gained momentum due to protests against police shootings and the resulting calls for police reform, of increased public awareness of criminal justice policies and the legacy slavery of African Americans, as well as discriminatory government-approved housing policies called redlining.
Catrin Wigfall, the speaker for the Center of the American Experiment tour in Moorhead, was repeatedly interrupted when she brought up Martin Luther King Jr., whom she quoted during her speech.
“Critical race theory does not teach that there was slavery in America, nor in Native American history, nor in redlining. These are all facts. Critical Race Theory sets a goal based on running everything, ”Wigfall said during his speech.
“He was a socialist,” shouted one in the audience of Martin Luther King Jr. before the unrest began.
“Tribalism brings out the worst in individuals. We will not deal with racism by treating people based on the color of their skin,” Wigfall said shortly before the altercation.
Bill Walsh, director of communications for the Center of the American Experiment, said an altercation had never before occurred while the organization toured the state.
“Those who left were not interested in a stimulating discussion or an exchange of ideas, which we are trying to do,” Walsh said.
Kendall Qualls, president of Take Charge, an organization that tries to restore black American families, also opposed critical race theory at the conference. As an African American, he grew up in Harlem and pointed to the lack of two-parent homes in the black community as one of the main reasons for dropping out of high school.
Qualls said Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized the importance of a person’s character over ethnicity.
“Critical race theory is about the color of your skin. That was wrong then, and just because a gun is pointed at a different ethnic group doesn’t mean it does now,” he said. Qualls said during his speech.