Protesters greet Rep. Franson
State Rep. Mary Franson of Alexandria
SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- A state lawmaker who drew fire over her comments on a YouTube video said Thursday she will not resign over the incident.
Rep. Mary Franson, an Alexandria Republican, walked past twenty protesters to get to a committee hearing Thursday. She was escorted in and out of the meeting by a state trooper assigned to the security contingent at the State Capitol.
The protesters, organized by the Welfare Action Committee, demanded Franson's resignation and chanted, "We are not wild animals" for an hour outside the meeting.
They were reacting to a legislative update Franson posted on YouTube March 2nd, and took down hours later after the blogosphere lit up over it.
"This little funny clip we got from a friend," Franson said on camera, and then went on to share an observation that the US Dept. of Agriculture announced record numbers of persons are receiving food support, formerly known as food stamps.
"Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals because animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves," Franson continued.
She then went on to make a larger point about her commitment to curtailing public assistance programs.
"We need to get people out of poverty, working, so at night they are not wondering, 'Is my child going to have food in the morning'?" Franson explained in an interview with KARE.
"But right now they want to polarize me and silence me. The story here is about welfare reform and getting people out of poverty."
But the protesters who gathered inside the State Office Building Thursday said they were more concerned with the attitudes behind the YouTube clip, than they were with the comparison to park animals.
"Let us tell you Rep. Franson, there is nothing funny about hunger!," protester organizer Angel Buechner said, "There is nothing funny about poverty!"
According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services there are 507,000 people receiving nutrition support, in the form of EBT cards. That's up from 200,000 only ten years ago.
"We are tired of the poor-bashing, beating up on low income people," Ebony Harris, one of the demonstrators, told reporters. "People who get food stamps, the majority of them work!"
Graduate student Cecily Matz, who brought her baby daughter to the protest, said she earns only $10 per hour even with a college degree. At one point Matz carried her baby into the hearing room and announced, "My daughter is not an animal!"
Franson, when asked about it later, remarked, "No way did I ever say her child was an animal. It's a dependency issue."
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