About 70 demonstrators calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict protested Wednesday afternoon outside a Minnetonka building that houses the district offices of U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips.
The protesters had planned to stage a sit-in in Phillips' office, but they found the door locked with a notice saying that the staff was "working remotely today."
They then moved outside to demonstrate on a sidewalk facing Interstate 394, waving Palestinian flags and signs calling for a cease-fire and "No New Occupation of Gaza."
The protesters, who call themselves members of the Free Palestine Coalition, said they chose to demonstrate against Phillips because he is a declared presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination and because he called in a Nov. 17 press release for "a multinational peace force" to be deployed to Gaza "to maintain security and support humanitarian reconstruction."
Wayne Miller, 34, of Minneapolis, who led chants on a bullhorn, said that such a multinational force carried with it the potential for direct American military involvement.
In an email, a Phillips spokesman said the Minnetonka office was taking in-person meetings only by appointment, "due to ongoing security concerns." The spokesman said that protesters had requested a meeting at 3 p.m. Wednesday but that time didn't work for Phillips or his staff, and said the group had been invited to meet virtually at a different time.
Phillips, a businessman who represents Minnesota's Third Congressional District, is running a long-shot campaign for president. He says that President Joe Biden, 80, is too old to serve in the White House and is unlikely to defeat former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner for president in the 2024 election.
In the Nov. 17 news release, Phillips called the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas "the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust." He said that while Israel had "every right and expectation to target Hamas terrorists," that response had "taken an unacceptable toll on Palestinian civilians, many of whom are subject to Hamas terror."
Melanie Yazzie of the Red Nation, who belongs to the Free Palestine Coalition, said in a news release backing the demonstration that Phillips' call for a multinational peace force "risks regional and global war with possible deployment of U.S. troops to Palestine."