Trump rally highlights tensions over race in Beltrami County
September 25, 2020
BEMIDJI, Minn. – As a movement for racial justice spread across America, residents protested in Paul Bunyan Park. Community leaders pushed for the police department to have a citizen advisory commission, questioning why the majority of jail detainees are Native American.
The small Black community here found a greater voice in a region where American Indians are the largest racial minority group and the Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake reservations surround this mostly white city of 15,000.
But some worry that the rhetoric of the presidential campaign is dealing a blow to race relations in Beltrami County. President Donald Trump at his rally here last week denounced refugees and praised his nearly all-white crowd's "good genes" and the state's pioneers, with no acknowledgment of the county's 22% Native population.