Posted on October 29, 2019

Minnesota Clergy, ICE Critics Want Bishop Name off Building

Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, October 28, 2019

Clergy and immigration activists in Minnesota are trying to remove the name of a revered bishop from a federal building where hundreds of deportation orders are issued every year, calling the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown an affront to his memory.

The Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building at Fort Snelling houses the Minneapolis-area offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. It’s named for the first Episcopal bishop of Minnesota, who persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to pardon most of the 303 Dakota Indians sentenced to death after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, though 38 were still hanged in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Now the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, the Minnesota Council of Churches and others want Whipple’s name taken off the building — or the eviction of ICE and its immigration courts. They’re planning a vigil and news conference outside it Tuesday to launch the “What Would Whipple Do?” campaign. They’ll also call on the Legislature to declare Minnesota a sanctuary state.


It’s not unheard of for names of historical figures to be taken off buildings and other landmarks or for monuments to be removed when history judges the person to be less than honorable. But removing the name of a venerated figure from a building because of what goes on inside puts a new twist on the bitter U.S. immigration debate.

Whipple emerged from the aftermath of the U.S.-Dakota war as a leading advocate for justice for Native Americans. {snip}


Whipple’s name was added to the building, which opened in 1969, at the initiative of then-Sen. Walter Mondale, of Minnesota. The Democrat has met with Romero and other organizers, and recently spoke with Murphy.

“I was asking if she knew any way we could resolve this peaceably,” Mondale said. “She said, unfortunately, their agency has taken the position over the years that if the decision has been made by Congress, there’s a heavy tendency to defer to it.”

Mondale, an avid student of Minnesota history and a former vice president, said he shares a lot of the organizers’ concerns about the treatment of immigrants and the divisions of families that take place in the building. But he said he’s undecided about removing Whipple’s name from it.