St. Paul, MN (February 20, 2012) — On Monday morning, TakeAction Minnesota, along with State Representative Rena Moran (65A) held a press conference condemning racially-derogatory imagery being promoted on a pro-photo ID website run by Minnesota Majority. Organizers of the press conference say the online images on WeWantVoterID.com imply that African-Americans and Latinos are looking to cheat Minnesota’s elections system.
Dan McGrath, Executive Director of TakeAction Minnesota, one of the organizations leading the campaign against a photo ID amendment, took aim at the online message. “These images are racial-profiling of voters at its ugliest, designed to drive fear and racial division throughout Minnesota in order to help pass a photo ID amendment at the legislature and on the fall ballot. They’re wrong and they should be removed from public view immediately.”
The online banner depicts images of an African-American male dressed in a black-and-white-striped prison suit, and a person dressed in a blue mariachi costume, alongside other outlandish Halloween characters including a white-sheeted ghost, a ghoulish skeleton and a cartoon superhero. The online banner’s message reads “Voter Fraud: Watch How Easy It Is To Cheat In Minnesota’s Elections.”
State Representative Rena Moran, whose represents a racially-diverse district in St. Paul’s Frogtown, Near North End neighborhoods said she was “sickened” at the images and called the photo ID amendment they are attached to nothing less than a “21st century Jim Crow law.” Moran said she believes “those that seek to fan the flames of racial division and fear hurt Minnesotans who are already hurting too much. These images are nothing more than scare tactics used to make sure people of color are further marginalized from public life.”
Moran was joined at the podium by Nick Muhammad, a community organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. Muhamad said he was outraged by the images and called them “an act of desperation” by photo ID supporters. He spoke about the racist images as a “pattern of using this type of race-baiting and fear-mongering,” talking about Minnesota Majority’s campaign of voter intimidation in many predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Minneapolis during the 2010 general election. Muhammad said “we’ve paid a dear price to get the right to vote and I don’t see any excuse for any organization to blatantly target people who have fought so hard to exercise their fundamental right to vote. Amendments like this have no place anywhere near our state constitution.”
TakeAction Minnesota called on Minnesota Majority to take down the offensive banner, stop the photo ID amendment push, and issue an apology for having placed these images on public view, using race as a wedge to promote their issue.