Heil Hennepin!

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From TPM Reader AB

I wanted to share a really disorienting experience I had yesterday morning in Minneapolis. I live in one of the most liberal neighborhoods in the city. We had a sizable snowfall on Friday night, so my wife and I were shoveling out our front walk on Saturday morning.

As we were digging, a guy in a van drove by and came to a stop. He rolled down his window and said, “I was going to make a funny, but no…” and then shouted “Heil Hennepin! Heil Hennepin! Heil Hennepin!” while making a Nazi salute.

(For reference, Minneapolis is in Hennepin County and has a major street called Hennepin Avenue, named after Father Antoine Hennepin, a 17th-century French explorer who documented St. Anthony Falls, the reason our city exists.)

We are absolutely perplexed by this incident. We are not Jewish, nor politically active outside of Facebook and Twitter. So the targeting seems random. And it’s not even clear if this is Nazi speech or just some really weird guy in a van who yells things at people. Nevertheless, it is a chilling indicator of how the unimaginable has become actual.

As it happens, my wife and I have been having a debate since the election about whether to put up a yard sign with a welcoming message to all our diverse neighbors. I agree with the sign in principle but I’m worried it could make our house a target for vandalism – or worse, considering Trump’s lack of a problem with his supporters’ violence.

My worry now, however, is that this is how free speech dies. Random intimidating acts keep normal people from speaking in favor of normality. I can’t believe this is happening in our country – in our very city, liberal Minneapolis. But here we are. It is different than anything I have ever experienced, and I suspect that anybody younger than the oldest generation has experienced.

Thanks for the great reporting. What a shitshow.

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