Patriots or vigilantes? Off Grid Armory’s Facebook posts during Bemidji’s curfew sound residents’ alarm bells

Part 3 in a series on Bemidji’s May 30-31 evening curfews and the community fallout

In late May, Bemidji law enforcement had what it believed were credible threats that violent left-wing extremists were coming to burn the city. While that threat never materialized, the city had to contend with people associated with an area gun shop volunteering to help law enforcement “protect” the town.

When citizens learned the next day about the gun shop group’s presence, it made some feel less safe.

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White supremacists stoke fears, escalate conflicts, spark vigilante action

Part I in a series

Source: Google map.

In the small northern Minnesota town of Bemidji, population 15,404, concerns spread among civic leaders in late May that violent activists from outside the area were coming to burn their city.

This was just days after George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of Minneapolis Police. Protests and uprisings were happening in large urban areas across the country.

Beltrami County Sheriff Ernie Beitel said that his office had received information that buses “filled with protestors were headed to Bemidji,” according to the Duluth News Tribune, “… extremist organizations planned to infiltrate the peaceful protests … including starting fires.”

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht imposed evening curfews for the weekend of May 30 and 31.

Bemidji had good reason to worry — not about phantom arsonists but white supremacists escalating fear and tension. Continue reading

What happens when you mix U.S. Senate politics, Enbridge Line 3, the coronavirus, and the state mask mandate?

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis held an Enbridge Line 3 Town Hall meeting today in Bemidji; in spite of the statewide mask mandate for indoor gatherings, almost none of the 50 people in attendance wore masks, according to a report by Lakeland PBS. The event was held at the DoubleTree Hotel Conference Room.

Nancy Beaulieu, an enrolled member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, attended the event and tried unsuccessfully to get either the hotel staff or Bemidji police to enforce the mask mandate. Beaulieu also is the northern Minnesota organizer for MN350 and works to stop the Line 3 pipeline. (Full disclosure: The blog’s author is a colleague of Beaulieu’s, Facebook friends, and we have worked together on Stop Line 3 efforts.)

Beaulieu’s efforts to get the mask mandate enforced shows just how empty the mandate is, at least in Bemidji.

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