Monday, May 7, 2012

Protest stories still pouring in

The 1972 stories are still coming in (see last post if you don't know what I'm talking about). Friday, just after I'd put the story to bed, my phone rang six more times and continued over the weekend. One caller was retired North Mankato Police Chief Mike Pulis. He told me about working at the Mankato Police Department on May 9, 1972. He was at the station the whole day, with only a dog to protect him in the event the situation broke loose. Another woman called to tell me she sat in traffic for three hours that day, and she said she wanted me to give her the phone numbers of one or more of the protesters from that day because she never got an apology.

When the story came out Sunday, I admit to checking my email and phone messages on and off throughout the day. With an extremely complicated, multi-faceted story that, in part, relies on people to recall the same 40-year-old memories, people's stories or memories often conflict. So I was worried I would have people calling in saying I had it all wrong.

Instead, it was the opposite. I even had a college student write in to tell me how much he appreciated the article and about a conversation he had in the checkout line at Econo Foods about how well the paper was selling there that day. How cool! I'm so beyond excited by the response.

I can't post everyone's stories on my blog. But I thought this one should be because I didn't quote anyone from State Patrol, who were kind of made out to be the heavies on that day. This is from Jerry Weihrauch:

"I was the supervisor at the state highway patrol radio dispatch office during that time. I don't remember a lot, the two videos and the story from the two former Mankato State students brought back memories of that day. I don't remember the regular dispatcher on duty that day, he and I were at the radio console and I sitting by the telephone ready to make any calls for what ever action the patrol Captain Gerald Kittridge relayed to the dispatcher. I remember the patrol and probably some deputies from adjacent counties? Officers gathered at the highway building before hand and leaving with the riot gear and going to the three areas of protests. Our home was on Highway 22 near Main St on S Redwood Dr. When the troopers radioed the protesters were marching up Madison Ave and then on to Highway 22 south, I phoned my wife and told her to stay indoors and lock the doors.

I don't remember who issued the command to disperse tear gas but remember hearing some of the radio chatter between the patrol officers at the scene.

Attaching a photo my mother saved from the Mankato Free Press on one of the first days at the radio dispatch office in 1968. I opened the dispatch office in January 1968, was a new radio dispatch office. Prior to that time the dispatching was either from Rochester or Marshall patrol radio dispatch offices. In the photo I am at the radio console reaching for the phone and the other man is Arnold Bentdahl at the Teletype machine. The Teletype machine was used to obtain vehicle and drivers license records from the St Paul highway offices and to communicate between other highway patrol and highway maintenance offices around the state. ... "

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