Two Groups Scuffle Amid Art Inside a Minneapolis Museum

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Francis Henry Taylor, a director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1940s and ’50s, described the museum as no less than “the midwife of democracy.”

But officials at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, that city’s grand encyclopedic museum, probably didn’t bargain on a version of democracy as messy as the one they got on Saturday, when a protest turned violent and made its way into the galleries, with fists and feet flying near artworks.

The confrontation began when a large group of organized protesters, holding banners identifying themselves as the Industrial Workers of the World, held a rally in front of the museum.

Kaywin Feldman, the museum’s director, said security camera footage showed two or three men apparently engaging in an argument with the protesters. When the men went into the museum, I.W.W. protesters followed them inside.

A Minneapolis group that describes itself as part of the alt-right movement said Tuesday that its members were the ones followed inside and attacked. The group — which declined to name the members, citing safety concerns — posted a statement online about the incident.

“We were there only to meet a few new faces and enjoy the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s beautiful collection,” the group, Alt Right MN, stated. “However, when we got there, the IWW protesters were waiting. We had no idea that it had anything to do with us until two of our members were attacked upstairs, simply for how they looked.”

Also on Tuesday, a group called the Twin Cities General Defense Committee of the I.W.W. posted its own account of the incident online, saying that it had shown up at the museum to disrupt plans for what it called a fascist, white-nationalist rally.

Two witnesses told The Star Tribune of Minneapolis that they had heard the alt-right men yelling neo-Nazi provocations, and that one of the men was wearing a neo-Nazi or white-nationalist symbol on his jacket. Attempts to reach the witnesses by phone and social media on Monday were unsuccessful.

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