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Protests expected at conservative group's events in Fargo, West Fargo

Calls to action are circulating on social media asking people to bring signs and protest at the Wednesday events at the Rustad Recreation Center in West Fargo and the Avalon Events Center in Fargo.

President John Hinderaker of the Center of the American Experience holds a magazine with a story about an August 2018 report that shows copper-nickel mines in northern Minnesota would be good for the economy. Don Davis / Forum News Service
President John Hinderaker of the Center of the American Experience holds a magazine with a story about an August 2018 report that shows copper-nickel mines in northern Minnesota would be good for the economy. Don Davis / Forum News Service
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FARGO — Protests are anticipated at Fargo and West Fargo events hosted by a conservative Minnesota think tank on Wednesday, May 25.

Calls to action are circulating on social media asking people to bring signs and protest an 11:30 a.m. event at the Rustad Recreation Center in West Fargo and a 5:30 p.m. event at the Avalon Events Center in Fargo.

The two events are being organized by the Center of the American Experiment, a nonprofit group that works to mobilize citizens on a variety of issues pertaining to state and local governments. The events are expected to address the controversial topic of critical race theory.

Vanessa Clark, one of the protest organizers, said the calls to action were created by concerned residents in the Fargo area who don't want the Center of the American Experiment "to have platforms in our public spaces."

Clark said she was arrested at a Center of the American Experiment event last year at Moorhead's Courtyard by Marriot hotel. At the event the organization also reportedly discussed critical race theory, and Clark said she was arrested for ripping an "All Lives Matter" pin from an attendee's shirt.

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Clark said she does not expect the protests will get heated this year because the Center of the American Experiment is charging admission, which the protest organizers refuse to give. The protests will be held outside the venues, she said.

Facebook posts promoting the protests say the Center of the American Experiment aims to "defund and attack the public school system."

One Facebook post asks residents to call the Avalon Events Center and the West Fargo Park District, which manages the Rustad Recreation Center, and read a script asking the venues to cancel the event.

The center, which i s working to expand into North Dakota, said in a news release: "The 'woke' political movement is working hard to turn North Dakota’s public schools into ideological battlegrounds, threatening the quality of our children’s education. Participants will learn how Critical Race Theory and the 'equity' movement advance a leftist, anti-American agenda that radically changes how our children learn about their country."

In March, the Center of the American Experiment sued a golf club in Rochester, Minnesota, after it canceled a planned event where speakers were to discuss policing and public safety, according to court documents.

The center said in court documents that the golf club canceled the event after members circulated a petition against it. The organization also sued the person who created the petition for interference with a contract, asking the court to grant the nonprofit in excess of $50,000 in damages from both the club and the Rochester resident.

On Wednesday, the center's events are titled: "Education Not Indoctrination: Critical Race Theory" and the "Miseducation of America’s Youth."

For the West Fargo event at the Rustad Recreation Center, lunch will be served at 11:30 a.m. and the program begins at noon. The cost is $10 per person.

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For the Fargo event at the Avalon Events Center, appetizers will be served at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6 p.m. The cost is $5 per person.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at mgriffith@forumcomm.com.

Related Topics: NORTH DAKOTAFARGO
Michelle (she/her, English speaker) is a Bismarck-based journalist for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and Report for America, a national service organization that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered topics and communities.
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