Democracy: Hagedorn’s ban an overreach

Published 6:06 am Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Free Press, Mankato

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Congressman Jim Hagedorn’s recent banning of 1st District constituents from his office flies in the face of that American principle Abraham Lincoln extolled as “a government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

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And the Founding Fathers should be turning in their graves at Hagedorn’s calling of the police on “we the people” waiting in line to see his staff.

Hagedorn issued a letter Monday to the group Indivisible of St. Peter/Greater Mankato banning them from his Mankato district offices. He accused the group of purposely disrupting the office so other constituents were prevented from visiting.

That’s a flimsy charge, not supported by facts. Hagedorn, in his letter, said one of his office staff said on the occasion of one of the group’s multiple visits that a member of the group admitted they were there keep staff from “attending to their work.”

The Indivisible group denied the charge in a statement, saying they only wanted to express their concerns to the duly elected representative. The group opposes policies of President Donald Trump, to whom Hagedorn pledges allegiance.

On June 27, the Hagedorn office called Mankato Police, saying the group of 20 to 30 protestors were at the office. The police report said seven people were allowed in the office and the rest wouldn’t leave.

Police talked to the group and reported them “very respectful.” They were not yelling, had no signs and would move to allow people to come and go. The property managers at Hagedorn’s office, 11 Civic Center Plaza (the old Brett’s building), told police they wanted the people removed because they were scaring other tenants. Because police found no violations of law, they told the property managers they would have to talk to the group themselves. Police later examined through GPS where the group was standing and found it to be public property.

The issue could be resolved by one small act: allowing people to orderly and politely express their concerns to congressional staff.

Let’s not forget our country was founded by “lawless” patriots who dumped tea illegally into a harbor, and “scandal sheets” like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense. It has survived a revolution, a Civil War and violent civil protest of the 1960s without denying Americans access to their duly elected representatives.

The Hagedorn office overreacted by calling police to report the presence of constituents asking to express their concerns. Hagedorn overreached by banning the group from his office.