Rally at Minnesota Capitol calls out sexual harassment

November 18, 2017 GMT

Chanting I believe her and no more silence, more than 120 people rallied inside the Minnesota Capitol on Friday against sexual harassment and in support of the growing number of women speaking out about their own experiences.

The afternoon rally included speeches by several women who currently serve at the Capitol, who said they are frustrated by harassment and discrimination they said they and colleagues encounter on a regular basis. Some called for more substantial investigations into harassment allegations, more serious consequences for harassers and more women in the leadership ranks of Minnesota government.

Rep. Rena Moran, DFL-St. Paul, thanked the women legislators and lobbyists who have recently come forward with stories of harassment and misconduct by two members of the Legislature: Sen. Dan Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park and Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center.

A lot of Minnesotans might have a hard time believing that we are here, in 2017, rallying against sexual harassment, Moran said. But for a lot of women at the Capitol, its not hard to believe at all.

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Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL-Rochester, was one of several DFL governor candidates at the rally. She said sexual harassment is something that affects a wide swath of people, and asked the women in the crowd to raise their hands if they felt theyd never been harassed.

No hands went up.

This is a way of saying to women: You dont have as much power as me,andthinsp; Libeling said of harassers behavior.

One group of women from Washington County, part of which Schoen represents in the Senate, collected Post-it notes with messages from rally attendees to post on the senators office door.

Several of the notes collected were calls for Schoens resignation.

Both he and Cornish have denied the allegations against them or said they were misinterpreted.

Some at the rally called for at least one direct action by the Legislature when it reconvenes in February: passing a state Equal Rights Amendment that would specifically prohibit discrimination based on gender, and potentially make it easier to clamp down on sexual harassment and abuse.

Betty Folliard, a former state lawmaker and womens rights advocate, helped organize the rally. She said the recent wave of reports of harassment, touched off by allegations about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and recently implicating Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken, have opened Pandoras box.

We can no longer let the perpetrators to go on we have to be heard, Folliard said.

Erin Golden 612-673-4790