Today’s Action in Sherburne County

A letter from Daniel Romero:

Today’s action at the Sherburne County Board meeting was nothing short of amazing!
The anxiety started last night when we were still making changes to the Resolution at midnight, changes that continued up until 7am today.

When Heidi and I walked into the Fellowship Hall at Union Church for the 8:15am briefing, there were 6 tables full of SARI, MIRAC, ACLU, Release MN 8, ICOM, Hedgehog and FreeSota members. 42 people in total, double the number that attended the last SARI action at the County Board meeting in May. 

The plan was simple, have three SARI Coalition members speak to the Commissioners and present our Resolution to them. The speaking order at the Board meeting would be Connie Natwick from Elk River Lutheran and SARI, Mixie, from FreeSota, whose husband is a detainee, and Rev. Robin, who would read the Resolution to the Board. But, there was a problem: the Board agenda did not contain a public speaking session.

The plan was that Robin and I would ask the Board Clerk if they would give us time on the agenda, and if all went well, they would give us a few minutes to speak. But, they might just as easily say “no”, and at that point we would have a choice to make: either come back next month or take over the Board meeting with singing and chanting until either the Board, or we, gave in. 

At Union, we hurriedly discussed the options and at the end of the discussion we voted: 15 in favor of coming back next month if they said “no”, 19 in favor of taking over the Board meeting. Not everyone was sure we were doing the right thing.

The Board meeting room was virtually empty when we arrived but our group filled up all the seats. We carried signs. When the Clerk entered, Robin and I went up to her desk and introduced ourselves. She said, “I know who you are, I remember you.” Robin gave her the pitch and the Clerk said “no.” Then, Board Chairman Dolan got out of his seat and came over to us. Robin and I went through the proposal again. We won’t take up much time, a lot of people are here and they feel passionately about ICE expansion. Some have traveled long distances. 

Dolan agreed to give us time on the agenda. We thanked them and as Robin and I walked back to our chairs, we gave our group the “thumbs up.”

When our time came to speak, Connie was first. Nancy and Bob Hassett watched the meeting via video link from someplace in Montana and said Connie knocked it out of the park. Our whole group stayed standing while our people were at the podium. After Connie, it was Mixie’s turn and she had everyone in tears, describing what her husband is going through at the jail. The Board members listened to every single word. Then came Robin’s turn and as she spoke, she was interrupted several times by our rowdy cheers and applauding. After she finished reading the Resolution, she said, “We respectfully ask the Board to adopt this Resolution by Sept. 17th.” We cheered again and Chairman Dolan gulped.

Our debrief was overwhelmingly positive. Connie Natwick was so high that we had to peel her off the ceiling.  

Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of groups and together we’ve organized many, many actions in umpteen cities in a dozen states and three different countries. Today, I’ve never been more proud. All of us should be.