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Minnesota reacts to attacks
By Mark Zdechlik, Minnesota Public Radio
September 11, 2001
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Gov. Ventura activated a state emergency center (above) with a telephone hotline for people to report suspicious activity. Several state agencies are participating at the center.
(MPR Photo/William Wilcoxen)
Minnesotans reacted to news of the terrorist attacks with the same shock, anger and sorrow that has engulfed much of the nation. Many businesses closed for the day amid heightened security and a call for calm from public officials.

A LITTLE LESS THAN AN HOUR after a second plane crashed into the second World Trade Center tower, Gov. Jesse Ventura took the stage at a conference at a downtown Minneapolis hotel; the governor and his audience still trying to make sense of the unprecedented terrorist attacks.

"I wish I could be here under better circumstances than the news we got," Ventura said.

The governor likened the attacks to Pearl Harbor and activated a state emergency center with a telephone hotline for people to report suspicious activity. The governor also ordered flags at all government buildings flown at half staff indefinitely.

In the downtowns of St.Paul and Minneapolis, workers by the hundreds streamed from office buildings. Some left on their own to go home; others evacuated as a precaution. The IDS Tower closed, the Mall of America shut down. Workers at St. Paul's World Trade Center were also sent home.

On the sidewalk outside, office workers shared reactions to the morning's events.

Richard Tweeden was heading home to be with his family and was physically sickened by the attacks. He'd had enough of the dramatic television coverage which held the attention of so many for so much of the day. "There's kind of tingling in my body and a pit in my stomach," he told Minnesota Public Radio. "I want to get home and see if I can get my children and just kind of huddle up. I don't want to watch television right now, I'll tell you that. I don't need anymore trauma right now."

Shaun Miller of Minneapolis was one of the few Minnesotans who voiced some understanding of the motives for the attackers. "I just think we get what's coming to us. I have a lot of negative things towards the government. It just shows that we're not as powerful as we think," he said. See other images and listen to more interviews.
(MPR Photo/Mark Zdechlik)
Barbara Murphy left her law firm desk in offices near the top of the building. Her husband, who had just left Washington D.C., telephoned, urging her to do so. "I started to shake," she said. "I got really scared. I just can't get over what's happening. You know I'm thinking to myself none of this has happened since the war."

Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton called a news conference to assure citizens that city government was fully in control and prepared for the worst should terrorist strike locally. "Right now we have no information that the city of Minneapolis is under any kind of direct threat," Sayles Belton said. "We are, however, at a full alert preparedness state. We ask the citizens of our Minneapolis community to remain calm. We the citizens to support and allow our law enforcement officials to conduct their work to ensure the safety of all who live and work in our great city."

Like the governor, Sayles Belton appealed for calm. Sayles Belton and Police Chief Robert Olson also asked citizens to report to authorities any suspicious activity. "We are following up on things that we normally would not do so. We've increased security not only here in City Hall, in our communications center. We've also called in additional officers to make sure that our neighborhoods are fully up to strength," Olson said.

Along Nicollet Mall during the lunch hour, there was a visible presence of police, among the clusters of downtown workers sorting through the morning's events. "I hate to say it but I'm anticipating the next disaster. It's definitely not over. To me it's only just begun and I don't know where it's going to go from here and it's kind of scary about what may happen," said Minneapolis Community Technical College administrative assistant Erica Reese. She said it's time for the U.S. to tighten security even if it comes at the expense of certain personal liberties."

"I just don't think that the government cares enough about our security," she said.