Groups protest agencies inside Whipple Federal Building, call for name change

Updated: October 29, 2019 04:02 PM

A group is fighting to change the name of the Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building in St. Paul.

Whipple was the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota and an advocate for Native American Dakota people.


Clergy and community activists said they don't have a problem with Bishop Whipple. It's the agencies inside the building that have them upset.

The building houses many government agencies, including ICE and Homeland Security.

"I have come here accompanying people in immigration court and to see his name just feels like a real violation to his legacy," said Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, of Holy Apostles Episcopal Church.

"It makes us feel terrible because we think Bishop Whipple would really be so disappointed and upset. While he had his own faults and failings and was a man of his time, he was a man for justice and love for human beings," said Lisa White-Smith.

Almost 300 people held a vigil and prayed for change outside of the building on Tuesday morning.

Activists said they either want Whipple's name taken off the building or DHS and ICE moved to another location.

During the event, clergy members attempted to serve communion to immigration detainees in a restricted area, but they were stopped by security.

"Our faith calls us to stand when we see things that are wrong, and this is wrong,"  said Kim Olstade. "It's wrong how we are not treating people like people. We are not honoring the humanity within them."

Activists said they are now launching a joint campaign. Their goal is to make Minnesota a sanctuary state.

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Ashley Zilka

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