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A West St. Paul home at the corner of Thompson and Oakdale draws protests over anti-abortion signs. A group of peaceful protesters stood on the opposite corner twice on Thursday and a march came to the corner on Saturday.
The Signs and the Issue
Five different large signs condemn abortion and share a Christian message. Two of the signs specifically address race, one showing a graphic image of slavery and comparing fighting slavery to fighting abortion.
“I’m not trying to just agitate people,” said homeowner Jason Ingebrigtsen. “I do want to prick someone’s conscious—we just can’t kill babies.”
But those images specifically are the ones inviting protest.
“You can get your message across without the images of slaves or the mentioning of more black babies are aborted than born,” said Kimber Scott, who helped organize and lead the Saturday march. “I respect they have their own opinion, everyone is free to that, but seeing images from a history that we are still battling to get away from is honestly very triggering.”
“I understand why some people would be triggered by that, I mean they act on emotion,” said Ingebrigtsen. He argued that it’s history and people shouldn’t shy away from history. “Right now the plague I’m trying to address is abortion.”
Women of West St. Paul (WoW) and Residents of Color Collective (ROCC) organized the Saturday march to encourage people to vote and counter the anti-abortion signs.
“We want to unite as neighbors to show our residents of color and women in our communities that we won’t accept misogyny or racism here,” said the Facebook event organizing the march.
Fifteen to 20 people marched up Oakdale Avenue carrying signs that said “Black Lives Matter,” “All Are Welcome,” and “Vote.” They stopped at the corner in front of the former Thompson Oaks golf course.
Half a dozen people joined Ingebrigtsen in his front yard and the two groups faced off for about 10 minutes. A number of cars honked in support at the busy four-way stop.
“Love not hate, that’s what makes America great,” the marchers chanted, and Ingebrigtsen and his supporters called back, “All black lives matter.”
During the Thursday afternoon protest, Ingebrigtsen approached the protesters to offer water and started debating them. On Saturday Ingebrigtsen stayed in his yard, but did invite the group of marchers to come over and talk. No one responded to him.
As if the situation weren’t highly charged already, it also had political implications.
Ingebrigtsen’s yard initially had signs for West St. Paul City Council member Bob Pace, but they were removed at the candidate’s request. Then signs for Republican Minnesota House candidate Mariah de la Paz went up.
“All that money that goes to Black Lives Matter is filtered off to Democrats who support abortion,” Ingebrigtsen said, which is a widely debunked claim.
The march included Pace’s opponent, Julie Eastman, and mayoral candidate Kimetha “KaeJae” Johnson.
Online discussion about the signs and protests note that people do have free speech to say what they want, but that also comes with the consequence of upsetting neighbors and inviting protest.
Seven or eight people have reached out to Ingebrigtsen to show support for his signs.
Ingebrigtsen has lived in West St. Paul for three to four years and works as a carpenter.
Oct. 12, 2020 Update: Here’s the city attorney’s analysis on whether or not the city can prohibit the signs (short version: not now, but after November 13 they can).
Oct. 16, 2020 Update: During Monday’s City Council meeting, all present members spoke out against the signs in response to a citizen comment. Council Member John Justen said the group mentioned on the signs (not the homeowner) has ties to white supremacist groups. That’s prompted a response from the homeowner and a back and forth with Justen in the comments on our Council recap post.
There’s also an effort to raise money for an abortion rights nonprofit in response to the signs, based on how many cars drive past the signs.
Feb. 1, 2021 Update: As discussed at a recent City Council meeting, these signs were removed for violating the local sign ordinance.
April 11, 2021 Update: Given the attention over the removal of the Black Lives Matter mural, this story has increased significance. Our October 12 update above was inaccurate and we’ve updated it. At the time the city attorney’s analysis concluded that the signs did violate the sign ordinance based on the number, size, and being attached to the fence. However, state law about signs during the election preempted the city ordinance and prohibited them from enforcing it until after the election. So the signs could stay, until November 13. Then they had to (and did) come down.
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Images of history they are still battling today? We don’t allow slavery in America? That history should be a reminder of how far we’ve come.
Still battling today? Where? Please contact me if you know a place in the US where this is going on.. I did not know that..
It is a reminder of how far we have come for sure. It is also a reminder, that what society accepts, and the supreme court calls legal is not always right.
Your sense of justice is real, it is in you because you are created in the image of God, whether you believe that or not. A Holy and Just God. If we all knew that one truth, we could get on with real relationships that honor the God who created us, just the way He created us…. Instead many continue to suppress the obvious and overwhelming evidence of God to passify their conscience, as they support evil politicians that support killing for convenience…
History repeats itself again…