Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Protesters Criticize Louisiana Governor 7,000 Rally against Move to Cut Affirmative Action

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Protesters Criticize Louisiana Governor 7,000 Rally against Move to Cut Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

More than 7,000 people rallied at the state Capitol on Saturday to protest Gov. Mike Foster's stand against affirmative action.

Foster's first executive order after taking office in January was to end affirmative action and set-aside programs for minorities and women. The action had no force, because both programs are protected under federal law.

Marchers leaning against barricades began shouting, "Kill the beast!" and "Governor Foster represents white supremacy and must be destroyed!"

A black delegation was allowed to deliver its demands to the door of the governor's mansion, then tried to shove inside. A police SWAT team pushed them back.

Across town, David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, led a counterdemonstration of less than 200 people.

Foster, attending a state convention of local officials 180 miles away, said he would have ignored both rallies no matter where he was.

"I just don't think that the streets are the place to settle political problems," Foster said. "I've offered to meet with those groups any time, publicly or privately. And they don't want to meet, so I wasn't going to take the time to visit with them on the streets.

"If I hadn't been up here, I would have been fishing."

The Rev. Avery Alexander, one of those who went to the door of the governor's mansion, said afterward, "They told us the governor was not there. We said we would like to come in anyway. They wouldn't let us. They had military there. We didn't have any machine guns, an army or a navy, and we were not able to fight, so we left."

Alexander, a state representative, led civil rights marches in the 1960s.

In the main demonstration, about 6,000 people marched to the Capitol steps, where the mostly black crowd swelled to somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 people.

During the morning, 72 buses from across the state carried about 6,000 people to a football stadium where they listened to music and organized for the march. …

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